International Dressage Trainers Club Seminar…an inside look with Frederico Pinteus

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Attending the recent two day seminar at the legendary Vorweck stud (Gestüt Vorwerk), Portuguese judge and dressage rider, Frederico Pinteus, felt it was an honor to be surrounded by so many dressage masters and a great opportunity to watch in detail some of the great trainers and riders in action.

“For me the aim of the two days was to gather together a range of top dressage professionals (trainers, riders, judges, media, veterinarians, researchers) and share experiences, ideas, knowledge and points of views, with the common purpose of promoting the correct training, the respect for the welfare of the horse and, consequently, the development of dressage,” says Frederico.

“It is not every day that you have the opportunity to watch closely such a wide range of wonderful professionals (Jo Hinnemann, Conny Endres, Katrina Wüst, Isabell Werth, etc.) working in such an expert/knowledgeable environment.”

Frederico believes that what came out of the seminar was that these kind of initiatives are of paramount importance in establishing the right understanding and development of dressage.

“It is important that all professionals can meet on a regular basis, and address and discuss, in an open manner, their ideas and points of view about different issues related to the development of the sport,” says Frederico.

Frederico says that there were so many great guest presenters it would be unfair to pick just one, and he enjoyed discussing the many different aspects of dressage today.

“Watching Mr. Jo Hinnemann working with different horses of different ages and morphologies, identifying the strong and weak point of each horse, and finding, through the equitation/dressage, the best and more correct way to improve those weak points, was simply amazing, “ says Frederico.

“The study of Dr. Rachel Murray regarding the research about biting and bridles was mind blowing. Dr Rachel Murray highlighted the importance of taking decisions based on serious and independent scientific researches Vs fashion/trend,”

I thought this was interesting. A lot of the pressure points that we assume cause more stress on the horse have actually been proven that they were not accurate and we must adjust accordingly for the comfort of the horse!

B7B04B76-818D-4E83-820E-2185110B0343“(…) while you should never have the noseband too tight, loosening it too much can cause more pressure behind the ears of the horse which is a more sensitive area.” adds Frederico.

As a result of this research Fairfax have produced the first “scientifically proven” bridle that they say reduces pressure by up to 84%!2725660C-7DC4-464F-875B-D221F4AE50F0

“It was also very interesting to hear Jan (St. Georges) talking about the relationship between media and dressage and through his speech see some paradigmas that need to be broken down”, says Frederico.

“On the second day, watching Mrs. Condry Endres leave all the audience delighted with the excellence of her children riders (13 and 14 years old) and their beautiful and wonderfully trained ponies.

All movements were so supple, relaxed, elastic, harmonious, easy and accurate. It was just stunning…

The way she gives the instruction to those young riders was so calm, precise and with such a candour in her voice – it was like “poetry in motion”,” says Frederico.

I thought this was interesting to note as we have all had that screaming instrutor and I always wondered how that helped maintain a riders centre…I agree some riders need a good shake up sometimes but i think that is unique to each student and a trainer must cater to each one individually.

“The presentation of Mrs. Katrina Wüst regarding the new developments in dressage was very interesting and helpful.

Judges normally take the “most critical” (so to say) part of the dressage sport, but in this presentation it was clearly evident all the work and effort that judges are putting in to make all the process more transparent, understandable, accurate and interesting. An example of the new system “paperless judging” was showed during the presentation.

Mrs. Katrina Wüst identified some reasons why sometimes there is some dissatisfaction among riders and judges, also some possible biases in judging, the importance of the trainers as a link between the riders and judges, and some ideas of possible solutions to facilitate the understanding between judge, trainer and rider,” says Frederico.

This I agree with as so many times you hear riders complaining about the judging without trying to understand the comments or learn from them.

“Closing the seminar we had 4 hours with Isabell Werth training horses of different ages (3 to 7 years old). It was quite interesting because we had the chance to watch different horses with different difficulties (and not just easy, well balanced amazing horses) showing not just competition aspects but also everyday training regimes.

In my opinion Isabel was very honest and straightforward during those hours and clearly showed why she is “simply the best”,” Frederico adds.

Frederico says that the major theme repeated by those elite professionals was the importance of the basics (rhythm, suppleness, connection, transitions, corners…) – “without basics there is no high competition”!

 

I think too that it’s a great thing when people from lesser known dressage nations get involved in these seminars..

“I believe that spreading the experience, knowledge and ideas can benefit all of those who are willing to listen/learn,” says Frederico.

 

“Portugal is a bit far from the center of Europe, and sometimes we run the risk of creating our own small world of “big fishes in small ponds”…

 

If we want to develop in a serious way, we need to have the eyes and ears wide open to everything that is happening in the center of Europe and in the world.

Of course that due to our geographical location, small size of the country, and reduced number of athletes, we have to allocate more time and make more sacrifices, however nowadays technology shortens the distances therefore, as we used to say, if we really want something we will always find a way, if not we will find an excuse…”

 

With two CDI’s being held back to back in March of next year in Cascais, Frederico says they are doing their best to bring the best judges and foreign riders over for what will be an amazing week in a beautiful country, with top facilities!!

“In terms of facilities (arenas, footings, stables) and organization (schedules, timetables, results, communication) we have already proved our merits. Now we have to convince the foreign riders to come to Portugal ” Frederico adds.

Back in the saddle…😊😊🐴🐴

When you start riding before you can walk it becomes something that you recognise as familiar. I got on the horse again for the first time this week and it feels like coming home.
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I had mentally given up the hope of riding again, but sometimes you are lucky enough to find people who are so passionate about helping you that you feel in the beginning like you have to do it for them, and then suddenly you are doing it for yourself.
Ana Martim Luís ( Pilates goddess), Jorge Pereira ( physiotherapist to the ultimate sporting club- Benfica) and Patricia Tiago da Silva ( Oesteopath and magician) have made something that seemed impossible, possible. I am not there yet but it definitely is much more realistic than it was a year ago.
It is so important if you have chronic pain or injury to find someone you trust to help you. What works for one person might not work for another!
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I am still a long way off but just the hope that it might work makes me so much more determined. I have more classical articles on the way and the book is being met with great feedback and I feel so lucky to have people who are just good people.
My mum who flew my horse across the other side of the world because she knew I couldn’t bear the thought of selling him to someone who would treat him badly.
It literally fills my heart to see him playing happily in his paddock with my mum laughing at him in the background! What a pair they will be…lookout dressage Australia!!
I have also learnt how nice it is to have someone who supports you. I always believed that if someone loves you they make what you love to do easier, not more difficult. It might be asking how it went or knowing when not to ask. It might be going to watch you or packing your lunch or just being there when you get home. I moved across the world alone and I thought that made me independent. I have learnt that independence is finding the line between doing it yourself and asking for help. And above all admitting to yourself that even If you don’t need anyone, it’s really really nice to have them there.
I am more hopeful this time because I got what I believe is the right saddle for me…this for a rider with problems is a must and for a rider who doesn’t want to end up with problems also a must! For information on the saddle that I am riding in, and perhaps to help you in your search for a saddle, I highly recommend you contact Julia Duffin at Saddle Kind.
Iota ( son of Rubi AR bred by mum in Portugal) was gelded this week and I will try to start very slowly on him. Classical training articles will appear on Eurodressage in the coming weeks. To everyone at Cascais riding club thankyou, in particular frederico pinteus and Valdeni soures luz!!
To tell me your story or ask a question write to me…don’t suffer riding in pain if you don’t have to!

Stay tuned for next weeks blog on the international dressage riding club seminar!

A Girl and Her Horse…

On Friday Batialo will leave for Australia. My mum, who is the only person who truly understands my relationship with horses, has decided that the only person in the world besides me who will give that horse the life and partnership he deserves is her. Mum, besides being a very gifted rider and trainer, is the person who understands that Batialo is much more to me than just a horse, and I feel so incredibly lucky that he will have the life he deserves.

I keep imagining what I would be like right now if he was heading off to some unknown place where they could treat him badly, or resell him to god knows where, and I feel so relieved that my mother understands this, and beyond her own belief she will get a lot from Batialo is her fear that if he was sold I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, and I know that she is right.

Batialo is not just a horse. He is the reason that I stayed on the other side of the world for so long. He represented my childhood dream, and he was the horse that if I had a shot at it, would have given me that chance.

I laughed with him ,and cried with him, and this week has honestly been the hardest week I have had in Portugal for the very real reason that it’s over. That voice in my head that says one day you will get back on him, and you will get back doing what you love with the horse with that very special personality , and that freedom and pure joy that comes with that will return, is having to face the reality that I have known for a long time, but that still keeps me dreaming of it everyday…hope.

I feel a mix of many things, but most of all I will miss my friend.I haven’t seen him much in the last year, mostly because I worried that one day we would have to sell him, and I couldn’t bear to think of it.

Also because I thought if I dedicated myself fully to my recovery I would get back on him more quickly, and this would just be a very important learning curve, that was in the past.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, and I can honestly say they were and are my best efforts as I did absolutely everything I could, I am still not back riding, and I am not sure when and if I will be.

What I do know is that it hurts me to think of a Portugal without a Batialo in it, but I smile to think of an Australia that has one 🙂

For him of course it’s the best life possible, a huge paddock to roam in everyday, and my mum who rides the same as me but with far more tact and knowledge.

But it’s always hard when a horse that has changed our lives leaves it, for whatever reason, and I have honestly never been this upset about any man ;)… but Batialo isn’t choosing to go, and in a perfect world I would still be riding him everyday, but…well…that’s life.

I will love sharing his journey with my mum as she has shared mine with him over the last 7 years, but this week I am reminded again that there is something very special about the love between a girl and her horse.

 

 

 

Polish Expat in England

“England is better organised and not so bureaucratic like Poland. You have better roads in England. The English don’t have many national dishes, whereas in Poland we have many! 

England is multicultural, Poland  is not! Poland has got better weather. We have a proper summer- England does not! England has a royal family.
 
The Polish people are better at saving money… English spend what they have and then complain that they don’t have money!”

When she was 22, Polish national Jolanta found a job offer online and headed off to England alone in search of something “different and exciting”!


“I had to go to Warsaw to sign a contract and I was a little cautious as I had never heard about that agency and didn’t have anyone to ask.” says Jola.

“I found some reviews about it online, which were positive, so I knew if there were reviews that at the very least the agency actually existed!”

Jola admits though that it was a risk to just sign up to an agency and leave her home country, and of course her parents were far more worried than Jola…

“They worried about me, that the agency could be a human traffic mafia… you never know,” adds Jola half jokingly.

“When I went to sign the contract I had to choose the city I would go to. I had 3 options, 3 cities to choose from. I didn’t know any of them so I chose Sheffield because it sounded nice.

Later on I discovered that there were many agencies out there recruiting Polish young people for work abroad, in countries such as England, Germany, and Holland etc.”

Choosing England because she had studied English and wanted to practice and improve her English, Jola was also driven to move overseas because she wanted to do something different and exciting with her life.

“The most difficult part for me was telling my parents that I was going! They were shocked and I knew they worried about me.

But it was not difficult to get to England. Once I signed the contract with the Polish work agency they secured a job for me, a place to live, and also transport to England.” says Jola.

Arriving in England Jola quickly realised the English she had learned in school, and the English in Sheffield was vastly different, among some other things that were not how she expected…

“You have two separate taps in one sink, for hot and for cold water, carpets in the bathrooms, no electric plugs in the bathrooms, and English people wearing shorts while I am wearing a coat and hat…Because it is winter!,” Jola jokes.

Heading off to England alone I wondered if Jola ever felt scared or unsafe, and Jola says that while she was technically alone, many other Polish people came through the same agency, and  there were ten of them living in one house.

“We travelled to work together so I didn’t feel alone. I felt quite safe. Every second week we finished work at 10 pm, so at this time I didn’t feel very safe to travel back home on public buses, but I would feel that in every country I guess.”

At first Jola went to England on a 3 month contract, but returned to England again when she was 23 to stay for 5 months, and then made her final and longest continued stay in England when she was 25, living and working there for 6 years.

“On the first contract I worked a lot, I wanted to save a lot of money. Gradually with time I made friends, people I cared about, so I spent my free time with them. However, I still always counted the days to go on holiday, usually to Poland or Portugal.”
I felt like I didn’t live in the moment but was always waiting for something. The job I had didn’t give me much satisfaction so I decided to do something interesting in the afternoons.

That was when I started Zumba classes, Portuguese classes and acting classes, which was the best thing I did in England.

I love the people I met in England, I loved the freedom and independence I had in England. I didn’t like the weather and there is mould in almost every house.”

I wondered then, once she made friends and had something to feel passionate about, did England ever feel like home?

“I got used to the country and I felt comfortable there, but it never felt like home in England, “ says Jola.

“Maybe I didn’t let myself feel at home there. I knew I went there only for a while. I always missed my family, my real home.”

Jola says that home for her is a place with her family, and after living in England for 6 years Jola returned at the end of last year to Poland, the “place where she feels safe, a place with traditions”.

Moving overseas at the start of her 20’s gave Jola a lot, and changed her a lot,  and she is certain she will never be the same.

“ It gave me independence. I have learned many new things. I have met many different people. I see the world in a different perspective. I believe I am an open minded person now.”

 

If you are looking to move to Portugal or invest in property here I work with a real estate company for a more personal and fun approach to finding your dream home…contact me at warnes@live.com.au for more info, or any advice on living and loving this great country!

The Final Step…Dual Nationality!!

Next month I will put in my application to become a Portuguese citizen, and will hopefully become part of a rather rare group of people in the world who own both a Portuguese and Australian passport.

Home in Portugal

I will very proud to call myself Portuguese, because Portugal has become so many things to me, but most of all it is my home.

It’s been quite the journey to become Portuguese, a country of which I knew not a single person, and absolutely nothing about when I arrived in Europe 8 years ago, in the hopes of becoming an Olympic horse rider.

When I realised that I couldn’t live in chilly Germany, mum asked if I could just stop by Portugal for a week before I came back to Australia to see if I could find her a Lusitano horse.

I found her Lusitano ‘Alancelot’ who happened to be the first Lusitano I ever rode. I then went on to ride 100’s more Lusitanos all over Portugal, only to tell mum that the first one was indeed the best ;).

At the end of that week I called mum to say I was cancelling my flight to Australia and I was going to this town that I really liked about 30 minutes from Lisbon, called Cascais, for a month.

I arrived there as the sun was setting, and had to walk up a hill with my bag searching for the hostel that I had booked that day. I remember how good it felt to unpack my bag that night, and go to sleep with nowhere I needed to be the next day.

And the next day I started again. And Portugal became my home.

People say I am brave to move across the world. Out of curiosity I checked the exact antipode of where I lived in australia, and it’s a little bit inward from Portugal, but pretty close!

I tell those people you have to want something different for yourself badly enough, to go through what it takes to get it.

It’s the same in all aspects of life. People stay in unhealthy relationships with people because of the hassle or difficulty associated with having to step out alone again. People stay stuck in awful jobs that make them terribly unhappy because they don’t want to study, or take the risk of finding something better.

Portugal could have turned out to be a terrible place for me. And there were many months before I knew anyone, where I felt incredibly alone. But in a good way. I had nothing to prove, and no one to feel guilty for. I could just learn to enjoy my own company, and I gradually learned to love it, and that’s the best lesson I have learnt in my life so far. People will always disappoint you, so the best you can do is to try not to disappoint yourself. People are so afraid of change, but everything changes. As soon as you get over one hurdle in life there will be another one. But that’s what makes it interesting!

What is Portugal to me? It’s the place where the people, the food, the weather, the attitude, the culture, makes sense to me. I feel more Portuguese now than I do Australian, and I will feel extremely privileged to officially say I am of Portuguese Nationality!

To all the people who in some way helped me during the last 8 years, who introduced me to someone, or advised me in some way, or simply came to one of my dinners that were typically chaotic but with nice wine…I thank you…It’s not just where you are, but the people you are there with, that makes all the difference. VIVA PORTUGAL!

If you are looking to move to Portugal or invest in property here I work with a real estate company for a more personal and fun approach to finding your dream home…contact me at warnes@live.com.au for more info, or any advise on living and loving this great country!

 

Retraining the Mind…Retraining the Body…Training the Horse!!

This has been an interesting year for me for several reasons. I tried to ride again and was hit with the reality that my body just wasn’t going to accept the pressure. I was told to have surgery to fuse my pubic bone back together, and I decided to ignore that and try the long way round.

I had to not just gain physical strength but regain confidence, and relearn how to engage muscles, and relax others, and this takes time. They say that you have to do something 1000 times before it becomes habit.

I had to try to do exercises again in a different way, and every time I pushed a bit much come back and try again. I realised why people just have the surgery. It takes a lot of mental and physical patience and determination to continually put your muscles into positions they don’t like, and then mental strength to breathe through it and learn to relax within it.

This for me brought to mind a very distinct point in our sport of dressage today…Special gadgets,  short reins,  tight legs, and pulling/pushing bodies at 45 degree angles back towards the horses bottom, has become the ‘surgery’ of today’s dressage.

It’s the quick fix, the put everything together, the squeeze and haul approach, that sees horses at Grand Prix at 7 years old, only to disappear after two months of competition…

Why does this happen?

Because of course the time, patience, money, technique and tact required to actually start a young horse, and take it up to Grand Prix, via all the necessary steps of balance, contact, engagement, suppleness, and finally collection, takes well… ‘too much’ time.

People want horses at 6 who can do passage, and horses at 5 who can do flying changes. There might be some horses at 5 and 6 ready for that. The problem is the horse is not a manufactured product, but an animal, and each one is different. One that matures early may have the balance to do a flying change at 4, while another who hasn’t yet learnt how to canter on both reins without falling onto the shoulder might need two more years, or (god forbid) might not be ready to start flying changes until they are 8 years old!!! (gasp!)

When we look at a 6-year-old we should ask, is he in balance? is he into the contact? is he supple, forward and engaged? Is he with the weight out of the shoulders?

If he is all of those things, call me, because these days, I am afraid to say, that 99% of 6 year olds are not! But they continue to Grand Prix without these essentials, and then they are lame at 10 and their career is over.

Why are the horses pushed into collection, hauled around the arena, and rushed into Grand Prix? Why do we rarely see lightness, engagement, and relaxation in competition?

I can’t answer that…But I will ask..If these horses finished with low marks time after time, and judges commented that the horse was not working over the back, was tense, and being held in the mouth and pushed with a driving seat… would riders have to stop and do it properly? If an average horse that had the correct basics was marked above a flash horse that was doing “boxage” with the rider, would this change how much time was invested in the horses proper basic training?

 

The joy of dressage for me is watching someone train their horse without pressure and expectation. The rider who is harshly critical of themselves, but who does everything in their power for the good of their horse. The rider who might have pottered around for two years without much visual advancements, and yet to those that are close with said rider the horse is everyday more confident, and rider also, the horse is everyday more balanced and happy and relaxed. May we all strive to be that rider.

Finally, I will start again slowly riding, and it might take a long time, but everything in life worth doing, is worth doing properly, and worth putting everything into 🙂

 

 

Cru Swim Wear- Created and Owned in Portugal-100% Handmade!


In 2016 Catarina Gil, pictured left, returned to her home in Portugal after a 6 month stay in the Netherlands, and was inspired by the Dutch people to start her own business.

“I started the company ‘Cru Swim Wear’ after living in the Netherlands because I realized the people there create a business based on what they like and what they believe in, and not to follow trends.” says 23 year old Catarina.

“When I arrived back to Portugal, I started putting on the table the things I love the most in life; fashion, summer, sustainability, nature… and I decided to create Cru Swimwear as a small project and business.”

Catarina says that due to the great weather in Portugal the swimwear market works pretty well, and it was not that difficult to start the swimwear line.

Having purchased my own pair recently from Catarina, I was so very impressed with the quality of the piece, so I asked Catarina if I could interview her about the brand. I later found out that every single piece is 100% hand made, which of course is why I was so struck by the quality of the garment.

“I believe my swimwear is special because each individual piece is made by one unique person to another unique person, and so no two pieces are exactly the same.

This way each piece is completely unique and becomes an expression of your own identity; highlighting the best in you!”

The brand Cru Swim Wear also supports nature in every way it can, and is a company that cares about their foot print and tries to follow a sustainable policy in every aspect.

“Creating a product related to the fashion industry but using natural materials and 100% handmade, that is our philosophy.” says Catarina.

As to why you should invest in a pair of hand made Portuguese bathers…

“The form,  the color, and the concept, of each piece is designed to bring out the best in each of us!

Clients like the way the swimwear fits, as all of our products are elastic and are lined with Lycra.

Then they enjoy the color palette which is based on thorough research and feedback from cliental, and then chosen carefully to represent the colours and feeling of nature; the beach, the ocean, the sand.

And finally, when clients read the concept they realize they are not only buying the product but the brand behind it; a small piece of Portugal, hand made and different.

Above all, our swimwear was created for the human body to get in contact with nature and immerse itself in water, to enable us to swim, and look and feel good while doing so.

When people purchase from Cru Swim Wear they notice these aspects and of course how good the quality of the product is.

In the end it is these pillars that justify the purchase.” adds Catarina.

While the brand is still in its early stages it is growing, and Catarina has been surprised more and more every year just how much it has expanded, not just in Portugal but internationally.

“It over came my expectations in so many aspects, and because of good social media communication we sell a lot to customers outside of Portugal via our website CRUSWIMWEAR.

As for the future…Catarina would love to make Cru Swimwear grow, as a Portuguese brand expanding into new markets, and ultimately bringing a small piece of Portuguese artistry and nostalgia to the rest of the world.