Insight: Searching For Your Calm…

The things people tell us affect us, even when we try not to let them.

IMG_0262The right compliment can change a person’s day, the wrong comment can ruin it.

Typically I have found though, that the best words or the worst remarks, are only worth the value of the person telling them.

When I was young I had two trainers, my mum, and a friend of mum’s called Marie.

I wanted desperately to be a cowgirl, and thought dressage was terribly boring and in fact I remember once just jumping out of the arena and riding off down to the bush.

As I grew up, and falling off onto a log or into a creek became less appealing, I grew to like the art of dressage.

“The right compliment can change a person’s day, the wrong comment can ruin it.”

I learned to enjoy striving for perfection, for straightness, and accuracy, and all the things that as I child I found particularly uninteresting.

Marie was not one to give away a compliment, and the first time she told me that I had “done quite a good test”, I felt like I’d just been told it was the perfect test of Olympic standard 😉

photo-3Recently in an email Marie said to me that she always thought I would pursue dressage, even when I was flying about in ‘should be’ circles on my pony, as I had a great empathy for the animal that is the horse.

That compliment has stayed with me to this day. Just recently doesn’t need to stay with you to this day because it was just recent???

On the other hand people can say things that may hurt us, whether or not that is their intention, and it is up to us to decide if their comment has value, if their intention is good.

The trick is to pay attention to what the person is really trying to achieve, and be aware if their words can in anyway help you see things in a new way.

If a person on the street calls out at you that you are fat, it’s quite possible they are just bored and insecure about their own bodies, but if a doctor tells you, chances are he is trying to get you to take more care of your health.

Truth is everyone has something they are good at, and something that needs work, and some people might spend their whole lives never working out which is which.

I found that dressage or horse riding was my passion not only because of empathy for the horse, but because it is the one true, and only time that my otherwise very busy mind is quiet.

It’s not nagging me about what I will do next, or what happened before, or who I should be or what I didn’t do. It’s not stressing about the pain in my back, or the chocolate block I just ate, or the things I should be doing.

“Truth is everyone has something they are good at, and something that needs work, and some people might spend their whole lives never working out which is which.”

It’s just there, in the moment, with my horse.

Finding that one thing in your life, that thing that gives you calm, is not always easy, but listening to the right people, people with the good intention, can help you find it.

It might be helping another person to do what makes them calm, it might be as a teacher who teaches others to find their calm, or it might be in the thing that you fear the most, that gives you your window and allows you to think only in that moment, and in nothing else.

Some people I am told have that ability all the time, I am not one of those people, but I consider myself truly lucky to have found the thing that gives me that window, the moment of now.

If you are not sure if you have found that, chances are you probably haven’t, and I suggest you think on finding it, as it may just help you be better in every other thing that you do.

Insight: The Someones that Inspires Us

Sometimes the best gift you can get, is someone to inspire you and that someone doesn’t necessarily have to be human 😉

IMG_0531When I was little I was surrounded by so many someones, which I believe made my childhood very special. I had a magpie named “Gobbledocks”, a Kangaroo “Millie”, a shetland pony “Jimbo”, a Kelpie and a pointer “Eddie” and “Beron”, a cat “pussy” and various stray birds, bugs and insects, that would hit the window, or crawl in unannounced (Australia) ;).

I never needed a toy, or a game, because I had all kinds of friends to fill up my day, stir my imagination, make me smile, entertain me, and teach me how to entertain myself.

Later, when I was going through the lowest part of my childhood, my mum bought me a puppy…I named her Maddie.

She became my reason to get up in the morning, when I couldn’t find another one, mostly because she would drive me nuts until I got up to feed her.

We would do tasks together, to keep my mind busy, like heading out in the bush to collect sticks for the fire in winter. Maddie would run beside the ute and then as I tried to load the sticks into the back she would grab the other end and pull on it.

Not quite sure she got the overall aim of collecting fire wood, but she sure thought it was great fun fighting me for the stick.

It was through her that I started to find a reason to laugh at the things around me, and eventually and more importantly, laugh at myself. She gave me a reason to laugh, a purpose, something to take care of besides my mum.

When I got my determination back and headed off overseas, Maddie stayed with mum, and become mum’s dog. I felt so happy knowing that Maddie was there with mum, because I knew that with Maddie driving her crazy and bossy her around, she would never be lonely.

Maddie passed away yesterday age 14, and I started to think about the impression animals have on our lives.

They are the purest kind of being, as they don’t know how to criticise, or put down, shout at, or lay blame, guilt, or anger.

My point is that animals can change the way we think, by us merely trying to understand and lay importance on the way they think.

They are delighted when you come home, they are content if you feed them and care for them, and they don’t ask for anything more than that.

My horse has now become the reason for me to get myself well and strong. It was for him that I got up, and pushed weights, and looked after my body, and felt inspired to be better to myself.

I’ve known many horses throughout my life, and have found something in all of them, but in Batialo, I feel he knows me better than any horse ever has, perhaps this is why I love so much the Lusitano.

The other day we walked out of the stable, and a dog ran out under our feet. He usually would pop in a spin, but this time he didn’t, and he was so pleased with himself, that he turned around and asked me for a sugar lump. He knew that I was surprised and also that he could bribe me in that moment for a reward :).

If you can’t find a good reason to get up, or be a better rider, husband, wife, daughter, or person, look to the other someones around you, particularly the four-legged kind, they may just have the answer if you look them in the eye!

EXCLUSIVE: Who is in Charge here?

I read recently that love is not a feeling, it is an action that you must repeat in order to have the other feel loved.

Ramos Sport Riding Wear
Ramos Sport Riding Wear

I’m not sure I believe that, but then I turned it around, and thought about hatred. I believe hatred is an act, and those who choose to perform hate crimes, or even comments lined with hate, do so as a conscious choice and not through the expression of feeling.

Therefore if you choose to love another, you must choose this consciously, and with intent on acting out that decision, with acts of love.

With animals, kindness is vital, and anyone who can harm an animal in anyway, has nothing but emptiness inside them.

There a lot of things in our lives today that  can be passed off as emotion, when in fact it is a conscious choice that we can choose not to act on.

I am impatient, but if I am disciplined with myself, I can in fact become calm and patient, I usually just choose not to be, I am working on it…

The problem is when we let other people decide our own actions or feelings for us.

Often without even asking for it, people will give you their opinion, and that is fine as long as you can decipher the opinions that matter, from the ones that don’t.

My Mum used to say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, but I don’t think that covers it.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” by Debbie Warne

I believe you should ask, does the thing I am going to say have the chance of improving this person’s life, or the lives of those around them, or not?

You may tell a person their horse is completely crazy, if you know the person is putting themselves in danger.

However, if you want to tell them their horse will never be any good, when you know that for that person’s goal and intention the horse is perfect, then better just to shut up right?

In dressage, you need to have conviction in your thoughts and actions, so if you’re a person who only ever does things half well, then your horse will do a nice diagonal slide, but never a half pass.

Decide and then carry it out until the end, in life and on horseback, in disciplining your kids, or in devotion to your dog.

When you make a life decision and you can’t figure out whether you wanted it or not, then perhaps you forget to actually hear yourself, as others are very good at drowning out what’s happening inside you.

Some people earn the right to give their opinion, and others just give it anyway, but either way it is up to you to decide if that opinion fits your goal, or not.

I wrote an article about the importance of “Finding the Right Trainer”, because it is so important you find someone that you not only respect, but whose opinion and advice is given in order to fit you and your dreams.

Finding the Right Trainer” by Sarah Warne @ Eurodressage

When my trainer rides my horse, he doesn’t get on and show off to me how awesome he can make him go, he rides him him in a way that makes it easier for me to get the most out of him.

If your not a rider, then the teacher, or boss, or whoever it is that helps you, must be a person who gives you help that you need, and not the help that suits them, and you must use this help and make it count!

I say, “don’t live in halves, live in wholes, and make sure everything you do, you do it with everything you’ve got!”.

“Don’t live in halves, live in wholes, and make sure everything you do, you do it with everything you’ve got!” by Sarah Warne

If you want to steer your own horse, better make sure you are in control of both reins!



What lies Beyond….


I just finished a classics article recently on knowing your own limitations, knowing when to say “I need help!”.

This made me also think abut knowing your own faults, or weaknesses, or the things that you must recognise as being frustrating to other people.

Most of us can recognise that the we way we wish to act, or even the way we believe we acted, may not be the accurate truth, and sometimes, even on reflection, our minds cleverly distort the past to have us coming off as the hero.

Learning your own challenges, or the things that make you human, can be confronting, but once you do so you can better accept when people point them out to you.

However, this part is tricky, as often when people can point out a weakness in another person, it’s because they themselves have that same problem.

When people tell you “Just get over it” or “move on” do you get stuck on the page of frustration at them for telling you, or you do flick forward to the next one to see what happens when you accept their point of view?

Some things follow us forever, and even if we try to forget them, they will occasionally come up to remind us of what we lived, or how we behaved, or what we regret, or missed, or should have done.

The past however, is never the way we think it is, and over time our memories alter the details, the feelings, the reactions, until all that is left is a wound that is no longer a true representation on what went before.

If society could see past clothes, colour, gender, and everything that surrounds it, all that would be left is all that really matters…a voice.

We are all just a voice, some voices want to be heard, and some prefer to listen, some are creative and some mathematical, and while we can see the physical structure that carries the voice, we can never ever know what another voice is thinking, or how it works compared with our own.

Have you ever sat on a busy street and watched the people go by, and instead of noticing their shoes, or their hairstyle, just looked at them in wonder at what their voice might be saying?

My voice often becomes obsessed with things that I can never hope to control, while other voices seem to find calm amongst chaos, or do they?

Do we aspire to match the voices of others, before we take the time to nurture our own?

I wish I was more calm, or I wish I was more secure with myself, are useless games for your voice to play, and will only waste the time you have trying to achieve something for yourself.

As a teenager I suffered depression, and I struggled a lot, and punished myself, believing that I was causing it, that it was my fault.

I read study after study, and gradually I came to understand things differently.

A councillor once asked me what I think depression is and I said very simply that “my voice got sick”. Instead of my body getting a bruise, or my lungs getting an infection, the voice, the core, the essence, got infected, and the rest of me stopped being able to hear what my voice was saying, or how it wanted me to live.

Gradually, as my voice got better, I began to find new ways to keep my voice active, to train it to work with me, and teach it to see the good in everything.

If someone tells you they are bored, they haven’t taught their voice how to motivate itself.

If someone tells you they cannot find love, perhaps their voice is seeing too much of the physical world, and is not able to see the voice of another.

In life their will always be voices that collide, and voices that test you, but sometimes you find a voice that makes your voice grow, that makes your voice feel alive, that makes you feel like your voice is being seen for everything that it is, and everything that it will grow to be.

No Woman is an Island….

Riding a horse is just one part of the whole kit and caboodle, and there is a whole lot more to it than just the hour or so a day you spend training your horse.

IMG_0262Mum taught me from a very young age that if you didn’t do the stuff yourself, you didn’t go out of home, and so I learnt the ins and outs of grooming, feeding, mucking out, cleaning, clipping, lunging, brushing, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on.

Sometimes this “lesson in independence” would go a little awry, and I will never forget the day I tried to give my shetland pony an all over body trim using the kitchen scissors. Gave new meaning to the word “chunk”!
When I arrived in Portugal, I for the first time, had the luxury of having a groom, but of course for the first 6 months I would not let them anywhere near my horse, and when I did occasionally arrive and the horse was saddled, I would usually inspect every inch, and sometimes even take the saddle off and put it on again myself, just in case 😉
Lately I have become a little more used to having my own personal strapper, and I must say that in a foreign country competing by myself, it is nice to have someone to help with that stuff so you can stress about all the other things like test riding, and staying on etc lol.
They say that no woman is an island, and my lesson is that while no woman is an island it is important to never become a dependant state either, and while a good support team is vital, never let yourself become dependant on others for anything.
It is very wise to let people help, but always make sure you know yourself how to do things, and check, no matter how must you trust in your team, that the things are done the way you like them, or the way that is best for your horse.
There is no point sliding off under the horse’s tummy, and then blaming someone else for not doing the girth up tight enough. Make sure that you are methodical enough in your daily routine that those things are checked, as the only one who will be truly affected by a slight overlook is YOU!
Don’t try to be an island, but don’t be a sinking ship either, and make sure you know your horse, and most of all, make sure your horse knows that you are keeping an extra eye on everything that happens to him.
Watch him, learn from the way he reacts to others, and always be aware if his reaction changes, and think about what may have caused these changes.
Be on the ball, and on the ground, and your horse will thank you, and when he does, you will understand him enough to know it!!!!!

New events coming! For more information contact me via

The Crazy Ones

I have been told that I’m crazy on many occasions. My response is always the same: “Thank you!” I remember reading once that “no-one ever got famous for being boring” and I agree completely. If you’re the one at school that others pick on, chances are you have something they don’t, or they want to […]


I used to not appreciate the value of the word but, and I’m not talking about the one with the double T! I used to think that it was annoying, that a sentence could seem truly uplifting, and there it would be, a “but” to ruin it all. That was great…BUT You did a good […]

All For One and One For All

On my first big trip away with Batialo I realised the importance of a team.

20140701-193109-70269725.jpgInvited to take part in the British Dressage Convention at the end of 2013, getting Batialo over to the UK from Portugal was just the beginning.

My groom Valdeni drove the long haul in just three days, my mum flew out from Australia, and my trainer Miguel Ralao was on the ground to help me focus on my job in the BIG arena!

I wrote an article for Eurodressage about what it takes to ride in a big atmosphere, and the article “Art vs War” was one of my most popular to date.

I think this is mostly because people could relate, they could understand that the thing we love most to do, is also the thing that makes us strong, that builds as and defines us.

However, we can’t do it alone.

I needed my team at that convention, just as I needed my Batialo, and I know that if I want to chase my dreams I will need all the support I can get.

You might also realise that you have a team you can rely on, or you might be thinking, I HAVE NOONE!!

Well, luckily for you, in today’s world of social media, you can create your own team over the internet.

Write to me, write to someone you know, go online and watch the world’s best, or listen to a top training talk about the perfect circle, or keeping your horse in balance.

Video yourself and show your neighbour, or me, or someone you trust to give you honest feedback.

I have to admit I love my time alone with Batialo, when it is just me and him, and noone else in the world exists, but don’t be afraid to admit that sometimes you need help, or encouragement, or even just someone to tell your story to.

Eventually you might earn the respect of people you respect in return, and create links with the right trainers, the right brands, the right team of people to help you on your journey.

Metaphorical Tattoos… What Are You With Forever?

Tattoos are often used as a stamp of some sort of independence, or significance, or boredom, and are a mark that is intended to stay on the skin forever.

photo-3Just like this pigment inserted into the punctures of our skin, we also have metaphorical tattoos that we carry with us, that define who we are, and what we present to the world.

I started thinking about this recently, after I began listening to a Portuguese artist with a song called “tatuagens” (tattoos).

The title got me thinking about what marks you might carry with you, that will be with you forever?

Aside from any visual tattoos you may have had printed on your skin, are there internal or mental tattoos that you know you hold on to, and will never give up?

I’m stubborn, and often impatient, and it’s a tattoo that is part genetic and part my own personality, and while this tattoo will always be a part of me, I can choose whether or not to let it rule my life.

My instinct will always tell me to rush, or stick to what I think I know instead of understanding others, and while this tattoo may sometimes get me places more quickly, will I be able to appreciate those places once I get there?

If my tattoo always has me thinking one step ahead, how do I recognise when I’ve made the right step, and be rewarded by the joy of knowing I made it.

For you, your stamp might be shyness, or overconfidence, and like all metaphorical tattoos, both can be seen as good and bad.

Shyness can be disguised as politeness, but if you live your life polite but never revealing yourself, or learning from your mistakes, you might never step outside polite and into something more real and rewarding.

The tattoo of overconfidence can be fun for a while, but when people start to think of you as rude, or demanding, you know you’ve crossed the line.

So how do we learn what part of our tattoos to let shine, and what part to tone down or even remove.

A violent tattoo is one that should be quickly booked in for laser, as should a pitying tattoo, or one of low self respect.

If you suffer from a tattoo that you feel is not helpful in your life, whether it be the boys name you had tattooed on your stomach one druncken night, or the life determining sense of being that you carry with you, there is always a solution.

Thanks to some advanced laser treatment, tattoos are no longer as permanent as they once were, and the long lasting metaphorical tattoos that we are branded with can also be scrubbed off with the right dose of mental training.

First is to discover what tattoo you have, why it is no longer beautiful on you, and work towards finding an alternative that fits you better.

If you are shy don’t barge up to strangers, start by talking more in comfortable surroundings with people that make you feel valued.

If you are overconfident, or sometimes too much, begin by not saying everything that comes into your head the moment you think it, and try to reserve some things just for yourself!

Never change who you are to please others, but any tattoo that gets in the way of your own happiness, is one that perhaps you should consider lasering off, even if just a little!

Just released Core Training For Equestrians, CHECK IT OUT…

How do I feel…TODAY??!!!

Ten years ago I broke both my hips, and I won’t ever forget it.

20140617-162320-59000018.jpgRiding everyday now I have constant pain that won’t go, and that I have learned to work around.
The problem we face, or most of us face, is learning to put our memories behind us and start again.
Learning to tell ourselves, that the me I am today, is not the same me that I had yesterday, and therefore the pains that were there before, might not be anything to do with what I am feeling now, or what I will feel tomorrow.
This is true of everything in life.
If we are always expecting things to happen, we create a channel that might not only allow those things to happen, but also prevent the good things from happening also.
A person can become so used to feeling down, that they don’t realise the times when they are feeling good.
A person can hate the rain so much, that they miss the beauty of it, or that wonderful smell right before it, when the world seems fresh and new.
Sometimes the ability to clear our minds, and think on the moment, is just the cure we need.
Imagine you have a headache, and you say to your friend “I have a headache!”.
An hour later, your friend turns to you and says, “Do you still leave a headache?”
You suddenly think, “Do I” and realise you do, but if the friend had not asked, would you have remembered?, and if you didn’t remember, would the headache have possibly become part of the past?
How do we train ourselves not to be influenced by what went before, and to just feel what is happening to us, right this very instant?
How do I retrain my brain to forget what happened to my hip, and work everyday with the body I have now?
Then, instead of thinking how is my sore hip? I can think how am I feeling today? And therefore open up the amazing possibility that perhaps I won’t notice my hip at all.
If your horse is scared of the chair, and you come out on the arena, and remember his reaction, and so wait for him to react, he is of course going to remember also, and so be scared again.
If you can remove that thought, or that memory from your head, and enter the arena fresh, perhaps he will also forget about the chair, that was so threatening yesterday.

As a rider we learn to use our bodies in order to influence our horse, and we can of course be put into positions that may cause us some aches and pains.
The problem is when we know a pain is there, and we enter the arena thinking about the pain and how it was yesterday, then we already set up our brain to focus on that pain, and therefore make it loud.
20140617-163404-59644512.jpgTraining ourselves to start each day fresh, each moment, each feeling, each thought, takes a lot of practice, and isn’t something that just happens.
Our natural process is to associate everything with how we felt, instead of how we are feeling.
Learning to ride out onto the arena each day and ask, “What do I feel today?”, without any thoughts, or memories, or connotations, is very difficult to do.
Applying this in our lives, takes practice, but it might just allow us to see people as they are, not how we expect them to be.
Then, eventually, perhaps we can be the person we are today, and not the person we think we should be.

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For the a list of articles please visit my section in Eurodressage.