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Dubu in Australia

Dubu in Australia

The past 10 days have given me cause for a great deal of reflection. Firstly there has been the death of Dubu, which has left a huge, gaping vacuum in our lives. Secondly, I have received an email from Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling’s senior body awareness coach (with whom we would have now been sharing a home on the island of Lyø in Denmark if that plan had materialised), in which she complains about the contents of one of my posts on this blog. These matters represent more than enough to think and write about.


First of all, also on behalf of Vicki, I would like to express my gratitude and thanks for the warm greetings and heartfelt condolences which we have received from so many of you either in the form of comments or private emails on the death of our little dog, Dubu. Because he required full-time care in the last few months and particularly in the weeks leading up to his death, he came to fill our lives almost completely. His passing has not only left a huge hole of emptiness haunted by the remnants of diehard habits and concerns not only as a result of this but also because it is the first time in close to 29 years that we have not had pets to care for in our home. Some people have had children. We have had animals. It is that close to the bone. Your empathy has consequently been a welcome crutch. Thank you!

Dubu: Give me more!

Dubu: Give me more!

The ‘brown’ world

The day after Dubu died and we posted a celebration of his life on our blog, I received an email from Jo Ross, Klaus Ferdinand’s sole senior body awareness coach and, as such, the most senior person in his training hierarchy. This email was sent from the island of Lyø in Denmark, where Jo is currently a student in Klaus’ one-year course, and is essentially a complaint about the contents of one of my posts on this blog, not the one dealing with Dubu’s death, but the one entitled On Top of the Mountain, which was published on 25 October 2011. You can read that post here.

Because Jo’s email concerns this blog and what is published on it, I believe it is only fair to her to have her objections displayed as publicly as the contents to which she objects, and to deal with them openly on this blog. Accordingly, I am reproducing her email of 22 November 2011 here.


Dear Andrew & Vicki

I am very grateful that I was invited to your house so that I may teach KFH Body Awareness to the group who you gathered together on two occasions. I felt very welcome there and it was a very comfortable home and location to present what Klaus has taught me.

However, whether my career is successful or unsuccessful, beginning or ending, actually has nothing to do with you.

I am offended that you are talking about my career in your blog in this way by trying to claim kudos for having launched my career.

In reality Klaus launched my career when he handed me my qualification.

You both were participants as well as hosts for myself and the group, and very good ones too from my perspective!

Would you please remove your opinion and reference to my career from your post of 25th October as it goes against common moral as far as I can see.

For example:

The Gabba management doesn’t go around claiming to have launched the career of Shane Warne et al.

I would like to be able to be your guest in the future for teaching events, however, I cannot if you cross boundaries like this with me.

I trust that you understand this.



Jo Ross (at left) teaching body awareness at our home

Jo Ross (at left) teaching body awareness at our home

My reply to this email from Jo is one which I believe should take the form of an open letter in this post, not only because it concerns this blog but also because it raises a number of concerns which I have sought to address in previous posts. Accordingly, I am addressing the following reply to Jo:


Dear Jo

You have clearly taken offence and, as such, I would like to state at the outset that it was never my intention to offend you and, consequently, I wish to apologise unreservedly if I have done you any wrong.

It was a great pleasure to have you as a guest in our home for the two body awareness weekends that we organised this year and last, and I am glad to hear that you felt very welcome.

Strictly speaking, your career has nothing do with me. As a friend (or so I believed you were) and fellow admirer of Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling’s work with horses though, I have indeed cared about your career. It is natural to want only the best for those one cares for.

You state that you are offended because I am ‘trying to claim kudos for having launched [your] career’ and it ‘goes against common moral’. By way of example, you refer to an imaginary claim by the management team of a Brisbane cricket ground that they were responsible for launching the career of one of the world’s most famous cricket players. I assume that the comparison is a playful tongue-in-cheek reference.

The only statement in my post of 25 October 2011 which deals with your career is the following: ‘In fact, that Body Awareness course and the one which we hosted at the end of November, when we decided to attend KFH’s one-year course, were instrumental in launching Jo’s career as a KFH Body Awareness instructor.’ Presumably, you are objecting to my description of the body awarenes courses that we hosted as being ‘instrumental in launching’ your career as a body awareness coach.

Let us examine whether this description is true or false. The online Oxford Dictionary defines ‘instrumental’ as follows: ‘serving as a means of pursuing an aim’. In this case the launch of your career is the aim and the body awareness weekends which we hosted merely served as a means. Here the emphasis is on the indefinite article. I have not claimed that they served as the means but merely as one of a number of means. And they did serve as a means to that end (the launch of your career) in that, as you yourself told Vicki and me at the time, they were the very first group sessions in which you acted as a certified KFH body awareness coach in return for remuneration.

Consequently, I cannot see why the remarks concerning your career in my post of 25 October 2011 should be construed as either false or unfriendly. As such, I see no reason to effect the changes that you have requested.

Jo Ross (at left) teaching another group body awareness

Jo Ross (at left) teaching another group body awareness

I read your email and I see more than formal objections against what I have written. Your email is laced with a dark energy for which I can find no readily comprehensible grounds. Yet if I scrutinise it and place it within the wider context of similar cold winds that have been blowing off the island of Lyø, it would appear that there is a discernible pattern to it.

As you recall, the body awareness courses which we hosted (you will find links to the websites produced for those body awareness weekends here and here) were not confined to body awareness. In fact, expressed as a proportion of the overall activities that occurred during those weekends (close readings of Klaus’ new book, viewing Klaus’ videos and horse profiling based on Klaus’ book, What Horses Reveal), which we organised and ran, your body awareness courses represented significantly less than half. Yet it is you who walked off with a considerable income from those weekends. We did not. We organised and hosted those weekends for the benefits they would bring all of us and not for personal gain.

If you think back to the second body awareness weekend which we hosted in March this year, you will remember that, despite repeated requests from Vicki, you were late in communicating the fees you planned to charge everyone for your body awareness courses during that weekend. At the last moment we discovered that you had almost doubled your fees. This had financial implications for us. Whereas we had covered our costs for the first weekend by inviting people to make contributions according to their means over and above your fee, we did not manage to do so in the case of the second weekend. All of the participants were suddenly so concerned about financial matters, that they insisted on the same contribution from everyone. Not only did we run at a loss as a result but we also picked up the tab for one participant whom we invited at our own expense. You, on the other hand, walked off with almost twice as much money as you earned during the first weekend.

As you are aware, shortly before the second body awareness weekend, I was asked to phone Klaus (yes, he wanted to speak to me and therefore I was required to phone him). I did so in Vicki’s presence, only to learn that his primary concern was to make sure that you would be earning money during the weekend and not us.

Since then Klaus has barred us from attending his one-year course because we refused to pay more than we had agreed  to and he has refused to refund our deposits. In September he hosted his Compact Schooling I course, which generated revenue from 34 students instead of the maximum of 25 that had been advertised. Within one week after it ended he started advertising his Compact Schooling I course for 2012, for which he has not only raised the fee by more than 7% (way above the rate of inflation) but has scheduled it for June, which will coincide with your one-year course, thereby again potentially generating significantly more income than the maximum of 25 students would as advertised. In addition, he has raised the fee for the next one-year course from EUR 84,000.00 to EUR 96,000.00, an increase of no less than 14%!

Jo Ross (at right) teaching Vicki body awareness in our home

Jo Ross (at right) teaching Vicki body awareness in our home

As a one-year student you have recently attended all of Klaus’ Compact Schooling courses, which ended earlier this month. During the Compact Schooling I course he drew a distinction between the values of ancient cultures, which he referred to as the ‘green’ world and the pursuit of materialism in the Western world, which he called the ‘brown’ world. I ask myself whether the preoccupation that Klaus and you, his most senior coach, appear to exhibit in relation to the pursuit of financial gain is not something that is more typical of the ‘brown’ world. Is this grubby pursuit of material benefit not the type of behaviour which Klaus so emphatically disparages in his courses? Is this what being connected with destiny is supposed to be about in the school of knights?

This is dark energy gusting off the island of Lyø. Or is it my imagination? During your year with Klaus will you be learning how to become enlightened? Will you learn how to show true empathy in your dealings with humans and not only horses? Will you learn how to empower humans and not only horses? Will you learn to become trustworthy leaders? Only you can answer these questions together with Klaus. I wish you, Klaus and all of your fellow students every strength and encouragement in your journey. May it be one for which all of us will be thankful when you emerge from Lyø in the European summer.

Be well!


4 Responses to “Of Dubu, Hempfling’s Senior Coach and the ‘Brown’ World”

  1. Robert says:

    We are all the product of the long history of human cultural and social development, which is made of large and small contacts and interactions throughout one’s life. In this sense, I am sure that the Body Awareness meeting was instrumental in some (possibly small, possibly major) way in launching Jo’s career. Let us not forget that even Klaus Hempfling himself is just the product of all the interactions that contributed to his life and development and is no more a self-made phenomenon than any other being. Of course, in a fit of hubris many people think they are self-made and the author of their own success, failures and destiny, but in the end the contribution of others to what we are far outweighs the bit that we have been able to add ourselves. So we come full circle to Dubu, who made his contribution to who you are. Cherish it, even if some of the other contributions were better missed.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Robert

      Your comment suggests that we are all part some greater phenomenon that is constantly in motion and which some call ‘being’ for want of a more appropriate description. In this constant process I sometimes wonder whether some contributions which might seem to be ‘better missed’ are perhaps as essential as those that are cherished.

      Be well!

  2. Dear Andrew, I like Robert’s comment. The comment of one wise man to another..
    At this right moment I have come back from the States (and am still a bit jetlagged)where I have been attending Carolyn Resnick’s “Beyond the Waterhole Rituals” Clinic. I have been able to add an even deeper FEEL to what I already know. Of course there too was/is an ego. A sometimes insecure person. Yet at the same time her energy feels so powerful, supportive, warm, loving and nurturing. But aren’t we all ego’s as well. Some big, some small, but ego’s nevertheless. I do not know if I am being clear in what I am trying to say. Perhaps you just let go after what you have said. I am sure what you have been ‘accused’ of is nothing personal. Most likely it has to do with the other person’s perception. And perhaps it is very safe to have this in the open from the start.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Glad to have you back on Dutch soil. I hope you had a great time.

      I have long been fascinated by what Carolyn Resnick does with horses but somehow her method has not drawn me as emphatically as Hempfling’s approach. Still, I would be very interested to hear about your experience.

      You are probably right in saying that what I have been ‘accused’ of is nothing personal and has more to do with the other person’s perception. What is clear to me though is that it is part of a clearly discernible pattern of disconcerting behaviour emanating from Lyø. It seems to me that it is important to draw a line in the sand. All of the positive aspects of the Lyø approach to horses is welcome. All of the negative aspects of the Lyø approach to humans is not. It also seems to me that it is important to have this out in the open.