Classical Training- Into the Outside Rein…

We have all heard that before…”I now have my horse on the outside rein”.

Many instructors use this term as a means for the rider to stop the horse falling out through the outside shoulder, and early on in my own dressage training I even wrote an article about the inside leg/outside rein connection.

But since then, and having seen 100’s of lessons and ridden a range of different horses, I no longer use this term in teaching inexperienced riders , because they often get the wrong concept and apply it incorrectly.

We see riders who then fix the outside rein as if that will control the shoulder of the horse…But does it?

The answer is no. A fixed outside rein may give the rider the impression they have a contact but it actually just blocks the horse from being able to bend and step through with the inside hind leg . The outside rein must have a connection but it must also ALLOW the horse to bend. It will not straighten the horse unless it is properly applied, in conjunction with all the other things that need to happen at the same time.

i have found that using the word “connection” as opposed to “contact” works well, as often we see riders who think that “contact” means you pull the horses head in so the reins have weight in them…That is not contact.

In addition, taking the outside rein to correct and straighten the horse should be done for one stride, and then the outside rein must allow, and then correct again if needed, while those 100 other things are still happening.

One of the best ways to learn the concept of Inside leg to outside rein is to learn to ride a ‘correct” s/in.

Many riders ride a shoulder-in by pulling the inside rein to get the bend. Incorrect. And if they then hang on to the outside rein without allowing the horse to bend , they just end up with a blocked horse which physically cannot step under with the inside hind leg.

A correctly ridden shoulder-in enables the rider to learn how to bend the horse through the body.

Once a rider can understand and feel this concept, of bending the horse through the body, they will better understand how the inside leg and outside rein act in unison to channel the energy

In addition to the “hold the outside rein” term, riders are also often told that the inside leg must remain on, to push the horse into the outside rein…Also wrong.

The inside leg should be like a post, that the horse bends around, but if you don’t know how to establish the correct bend then putting your inside leg on and holding on the outside will only serve to block the horse, and your body, and typically then your inside leg will draw up and your outside rein will pull back, and ye ha you are a cowboy.

Plus, your inside leg can only work well, and remain long, and be applied in the correct way, if your position is correct.

Nothing in dressage, should be held for long periods of time…The outside rein should not be fixed, but act more like a faucet, letting a little bit of water out at a time. The inside leg must ask and then release.

No it’s not easy.

Nuno Oliveira used to say…

“To straighten the horse

1. By acting on the forehand through using the outside rein toward the neck when the horse is falling outward or away from the neck if the horse is falling inward.

2. Later when the horse is trained and collected, we straighten him using our leg aids.

NOTE: We must never hold the leg tight against the side. We must never use continuous aids, but rather, momentary aids.”

So how then can riders help to keep control of the shoulders without simply thinking inside leg into outside rein?

I have found that to straighten the horse, it is better to think about the position of the shoulders, both his and yours, so not to get stuck with a strong contact on the outside, but a crooked horse.

Secondly, you must think that whenever your shoulder is open, your hip on the same side must open also, as often we turn our shoulders and block with our hip which makes the open shoulder ineffective.

A great way to help you determine where the horse is putting weight (on which shoulder) is to take the centreline. Often we get lost on the wall of the arena as it provides us with a security, but it also hides where the horse is falling out.

Take the centreline and with an even connection on both reins try to feel into which shoulder the horse is putting more weight . Video it if you cannot decide if the horse is straight or not. Think of your two hands as being in line with each shoulder, and then adjust accordingly…

Take your two hands out (when horse falls in) or towards the neck (when horse falls out) depending on where the weight is going, all the while keeping your inside leg down and long, and applying it when you feel the horse losing the forward energy into the outside rein, and then releasing when you feel him respond.

The outside rein must keep a connection ,but also allow, in correspondence and unison with an elastic inside rein that asks the flexion, while your upper body and hip enable the horse to bend, and your legs keep the forward momentum and ask the inside hind of the horse to step under his centre of balance.


Mare for sale…Lusitano…write to me at for more information…

Classical Training-Walk Before You Run!!

Walk before you Run!

I often have people contacting me in search of their dream horse, and I love to help, but sometimes I get frustrated for a simple reason.

I will show a nice 6 year old, and they will ask is he doing flying changes or passage, and I think “I hope not”.

It’s common in the dressage world these days to see horses at 6 already performing exercises that require high levels of collection, and this is not good for the physical nor mental maturity of the horse.

I would prefer 1000 times over a 6 year old that can walk, trot and canter on a straight line , and that bends evenly to both sides, than a 6 year old who can do all the tricks, because a 6 year old that is doing all the tricks for me just means that it will take 12 to 18 months to undo what has been done.
Nuno Oliveira used to say that “No complicated riding before the horses are going truly forward. In dressage, the difficulties are often created by a lack of good basic work (which is the foundation of the house).”

He is right of course, and yet people underestimate the value of waiting until the horse is ready, or are not aware of what “ready” means in terms of dressage training.

Does the horse move easily off the leg. Is the horse light on the contact? Is the horse straight? Does the horse bend to the left and right evenly? Is the horse moving forward alone or is the rider pushing every step?

Can the horse bend correctly on a 20, 15, and 10 metre circle, at walk trot and canter? Can the horse stretch out the contact without losing the rhythm, balance and engagement of the gait, in all three paces?

If the answer was no to any of these then the horse should not be advancing to any collected exercises until the above is achieved and consolidated.

And yet time and time again we hear people who want to learn the flying changes, and when they are asked to do a canter to walk transition, it is a complete mess with little or no engagement, and the horse falls on the forehand, and without this transition the hope of the horse learning to change correctly will be limited at best, and still people want to just get on with it.

It’s as if they want to get to the end of the story before they have even come to introduce the characters, and that may be all well and good if you don’t really care if you get it right or not, but in terms of the health of the horse, this is like putting a toddler on a high beam and asking him to cartwheel.

If you want to teach your horse the flying change, great! Work patiently and with commitment every day, on getting the horse straight, and even, and engaged, and with transitions from walk to canter, canter to walk, and then one day you will ask for the change and the horse will have everything in place to give it to you.

I hear people tell me that their horse doesn’t do flying changes, or that their horse loses rhythm in the passage, or that when they ask the piaffe he just stops, and I find it hard not to ask them if they know how to ride a circle.

The simple things take time, the tricks are the icing on the cake. If you get all the other elements in place, the rest will be easy.
If you have a 6 year old, he is 6, he should be learning to mentally and physically cope with the demands of training, not the demands of collected exercises on top of all that.
Go slowly, be kind, reward the smallest improvement, and let your horse grow up!

Mare for sale…write to for information

Classical Training- What Are You Acheiving?

What Are You Achieving?

Sometimes we finish a ride, and the horse is tired, and we are tired, and yet nothing was actually worked on.

This can happen for a range of different reasons, some of them legitimate, and others not.

I sometimes can have weeks where I achieve very little in terms of training because of either my own physical restrictions (i.e. pain or injury), or because the rider that is going through a phase or isn’t tuned in enough to listen to the horse, or a lack of confidence means you tend to just try to “get through the ride” without getting hurt.

A lack of confidence can often result in this sort of mentality, where a rider merely gets on and off and tries do a bit in between, praying all the while that nothing will happen, no dogs will run out, or trees will make a noise, or a gust of wind will come up at the wrong time.

Been there.14237725_1061921613843019_4060016455013526172_n

The other reasons might be a lack of focus or goal. i find that even if your goal is to ride a preliminary test and gain a certain percentage, then that in itself gives you more direction in training. This goal should be given with a date, which of course can be extended, but at least it’s there, so you don’t keep putting it off.

We might go out to ride, and feel the trot so great we just sort of float around enjoying it, and forget to actually better it by using transitions, and suppling exercises.

How many times have we seen videos of a horse and rider going all the way around the arena in a fancy trot, and I think, that’s great, but is there a purpose to that? Are you making the trot better? Are you making the horse more supple? Or are you just tiring the horse out until you can finish the training?

“Many riders are happy to get their horses tired by running around in the arena in trot or canter. This gets the horse tired. “Working a horse” is something else altogether.” “( Nuno Oliveira)

So you need to ask yourself, do you want to train the horse, do you want to establish a connection with him based on trust, respect, and communication, or do you want to sit there and look pretty, or get a work out and go home?

If you prefer the first scenario, then as I said you need to set goals, and not just goals to aim toward, but every day goals.

What am I trying to achieve today?

And more importantly, when you finish riding, don’t just rush off to your life, reflect!

Reflect, reflect, reflect!!

Ask yourself, how was that ride, how does my body feel, did I achieve what I set out to?

If you need to, keep a journal of what worked, and why.

You will quickly find that it’s in the reflection that you learn the most about your journey on your horse. Talk to him. Ask him how he felt. He isn’t going to answer you, but in the process you will establish a greater connection with him and you yourself will begin the reflection process.

The two elements of dressage that I find are most easily forgotten are reflection and breathing.

So…Incorporate this into every single training….

Think, what am I setting out to do…Breath while you are doing it…Reflect on how you did it, and whether or not you are on the way to your goal…
Think, Breathe, Reflect!!15515835_10209375636019689_649566707_o

Classical Training-My Horse is Not Straight!

My horse is not straight!

No he isn’t! This is one of the most common things I hear in teaching…My horse has one side more difficult…I prefer the left rein to the right because my horse feels different…Why does my horse only bend left…

Then, even worse, we see riders in top level competition and they do a lovely half pass to the left, and then a leg yield to the right! Why?

Because the rider has not addressed the fundamental part of dressage which is that the horse has both a concave and a convex side, and so yes, your horse is not straight!

Concave: having an outline or surface that curves inwards like the interior of a circle or sphere.

Convex: means curving out or extending outward

Nuno Oliveira wrote a lot on this topic, and it is something that you really need to think about, draw a picture if you have to, figure it out, and trust me if you can nut this one out the rest of dressage training is much easier!

A horse that is straight moves completely differently, and once you have felt it, well, you will understand why there is so much written about it.

“Example of a horse that is convex on the left side; he naturally bends right. When going on the left rein, his tendency will be to have too much weight on the left side and to resist on that side.

11144950_10205995678002851_6937707197164708269_nREMEDY: left rein lighter than the right, the left side will always be the difficult side, but without forgetting to keep the contact with the right rein. Use continuous vibration upwards on the left rein the entire life of the horse. To bend him left, replace the action of the left rein by the action of the left leg near the girth. Use the calf, not the spur. This will correct the problem at its source which is the deviation of the rib cage to the left.” (Nuno Oliveira)

“Example of a horse that is convex on the right side; he naturally bends left. When going on the right rein, his tendency will be to have too much weight on the right side and to resist on that side.

REMEDY: right rein lighter than the left, the right side will always be the difficult side, but without forgetting to keep the contact with the left rein. Use continuous vibration upwards on the right rein the entire life of the horse. To bend him right, replace the action of the right rein by the action of the right leg near the girth. Use the calf, not the spur. This will correct the problem at its source which is the deviation of the rib cage to the right.” (Nuno Oliveira)

Read this…Re read it…Go out and feel it, and then read it again!

It is not something that you correct in one lesson, but something as Nuno points out that you work on for the entire life of the horse.

Next time you watch a test, ask yourself…Does the horse bend more one way than the other? Or does it not bend at all to one side?15419411_10209340190173565_405376900_o

It is not just incorrect, it also adds strain on the horses muscles, ligaments and joints, as the horse is constantly putting more weight into one shoulder.

As a rider we often have a side that is more relaxed that the other too, and this can be made more difficult by the fact that our horse is built with a convex and concave side.

However, as riders it is our job to, with the use of exercises, correct this imbalance, and create a supple forward moving horse.

“It is by working the horse through different exercises in the same bend that we can often supple up the horse on the difficult side.” (Nuno Oliveira)

This is why it often helps to have eyes on the ground and if not a video camera so you can see for yourself if you and your horse are even.

You must ask…”Is my horse with the same amount of bend on the left and right rein.”

“Am I sitting in the middle of the horse”, because often because of this lack of symmetry in horses, riders tend to sit more to one side than the other.

Then gradually over time you can create a horse with even bend, who is supple even on a straight line.
But it has to be thought about and worked on, every single day.

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That’s Horses!!…

The first lesson I learnt in life was when you fell off the horse, you had to get straight back on. There was no time to lie there pathetically, if you could walk, you rode, and you had about 20 minutes before the horse realised that you were off, and he got to relax, and that throwing you on the ground was a good idea, and one worth trying again.

The second lesson I learnt was a tougher one…I walked out to ride my horse one day and he was dead in the paddock. Mum said “that is horses, and if you want to ride, you have to know, and be able to cope, with all the elements of horse riding, and this, my dear, is one of them”.15515835_10209375636019689_649566707_o

I decided that it as worth it anyway. Nothing good is forever, people come and go, and each horse teaches us something new, as a rider, and if we are lucky, as a person. Best is to enjoy it while it lasts.

I think though that these lessons give you good tools to use in life…If things don’t turn out like you wanted them to, you have to theoretically get back on the horse, and keep going, whether it be relationships, friendships, family…sometimes, no matter how we wish it, we can’t fix everything.

Horses teach us so much, they can be our partner, our best friend, our reason to get up when everything else is falling apart.

People say when you become a mother you learn to put someone else before yourself, but I leant that very early…We would leave christmas lunch early because the horses had to be fed, and it didn’t matter how starving I was, I had to wait until we had done the horses. Or lying awake at night age 9, wondering if I’d done the back legs straps up!

People often ask why I live alone in Portugal, but I never felt alone. My horses had a lot to do with that.

But like all great things, it comes with a downside…

Recently my pilates trainer said to me, that the majority of top level sport revolves around teaching your body to relax in a state of strength. Whether it be endurance or speed or power, we can’t sustain it under pressure, so we have to teach our body to be at it’s peak, but without any strain.

Keeping ourselves fit enough is one thing, but horse riding relies on a dual package, and so the odds of both members of said package staying sound and fit are greatly reduced.

Beijo...NAILED IT!!

This week was one of those weeks. Batialo has ring bone, and while it’s not the end of the world, it sure felt like it for me. I have since spoken more to my vet and my mum, and my trainer, and they all agree that we will try and manage it…But well, it’s not great :(.

My little horse, who is quickly becoming my very close second great love (sorry Batialo) has to have surgery :(. It is a simple operation and he will recover but of course he will need time off at least 6 weeks.

Mum always said one horse isn’t enough because you lose them so quickly, and sometimes it feels like you might need ten just to have the odds of riding one.

Unfortunately, aside from the riding factor, we also fall in love with them…I read recently that you only get 3 great loves, but I’ve had like 5, (Kaptain, bobby, Zen, Batialo, Iota), each who taught me so much, but who of course can’t stay for very long.

But, like all things in things in life, if it was easy, well it wouldn’t be so damn rewarding when it does fall into place.




Classical Training-Finding Relaxation In a Position of Strength…

Finding relaxation in a position of strength…

This was something my Pilates instructor said to me recently, that the key to most top level sports is training the body to relax in a position of strength, or endurance, or speed.dress

Dressage therefore can be defined as just that…Finding Relaxation in a Position that requires Strength, both in terms of horse, and rider.

Think about it…The horse must be strong enough to perform the exercise, but be able to relax within it.

A rider must be strong enough to hold their posture, their seat, their legs in place, strong enough to position the horse, to provide the necessary pressure for the aids, but to be able to relax within that position of strength.

It seems so easy, find your position, then relax. But in terms of both horse and rider this concept is extremely difficult to achieve.


Because both horse and rider often fall too far on either side of the relaxation/strength spectrum…14543895_10208740951272967_306353955903842219_o

A rider will either use too much force (strength) without the necessary relaxation, and produce a horse that is tense, and being moved around the arena by the use of harsh aids, and strong hands.

Or the rider will be too relaxed in the saddle, will seem to flop about with the horse, without being able to let the horse balance, because their own weight is being distributed unevenly and without any correct posture or balance themselves.

In terms of the horse, a horse is often either too strong, leaning on the hand, and has not learned the value of strength and relaxation in correct posture to establish self-carriage and balance.

Alternatively a horse may be too relaxed, and thus not have the strength to carry himself, and will therefore rely on the physical effort of his rider to sort of drive him around the arena.

So how do we find the right balance between strength and relaxation? How do we find that “Relaxation From A Strength Position” that is so hard to find, yet is at the heart of all dressage training, from young horse to Grand Prix?

First in terms of the rider…Well this comes down to body awareness. Often as riders we have muscles that overactivate. This means that when we want to do a simple movement, our muscles go all in and use more than the necessary strength required.
This also means that when we think we have relaxed a muscle, we actually have only relaxed it partially.

If you don’t believe me sit down with your feet together and your knees out to the side. Relax your adductors. Then, think about whether they are really relaxed and try to really let them go…

Typically you will have one of those, oh, moments, where you realised that your idea of relaxed, and actually fully relaxed, are two different things.

Once we can learn how to fully relax, often yoga or pilates helps a lot, we can learn how to hold and balance our own bodies evenly, and then relax maintaining that position of strength. Doing it on the horse is more difficult, and it takes patience and work, and thought, and help!

For the horse, well Nuno Oliveira used to say that “the horse is not a machine, but a living being. Therefore, we must know what dose of relaxation and degree of vigor that we must employ with each horse.”

What he meant of course is that the dose of Strength Vs Relaxation required on one horse, will be vastly different to that required on another.

We must learn to set the horse up for the movement, and then let him do the work, allowing him to relax into it, move alone, and build the strength to carry out said exercise with ease.13568999_10207987024585271_9110582066519524617_o

He will then learn to not only relax physically in the exercise but also mentally, because his rider is not banging and crashing about with every stride.

Finding relaxation from a position of strength, poise and balance, is about patience, and feel, and adjustment. All the elements of dressage that we must incorporate into every training, until things become effortless.

“The criteria of a good rider is a rider that we cease to notice, and we only watch the horse,” Nuno Oliveira.halt

Are You A victim?…

“Everything always happens to me”, “Why Me”, “I have the worst luck”…

Last week I was told again that the likelihood of me getting back into competition is slim to none…And my initial thought was “it’s unfair”, or something similar to that effect.11144950_10205995678002851_6937707197164708269_n

But that is bullshit…

For every person who makes it in the sporting world, there are 100 who could have made it, but they didn’t have the support, they got injured, they had bad timing, they didn’t have the mental capacity to cope with pressure etc etc.

For every one singer that makes it, 100 have the talent, but are not slim enough, or have the wrong image, or the wrong support, or are too like someone who already made it.

It’s human instinct though to play the victim… I hear it all the time, and it’s one thing to think it, it’s quite another to verbalise it…

I do feel like every time I get almost to the point where I feel recovered, that I fall almost as far back down, but that’s nothing particular to me, that’s just life in general.

Yet, people make themselves out to be somehow the only one who faces tough times, like it’s the world against them, and everyone else has it easy.

They don’t, you aren’t special.

I talked for ten minutes to the person I talk the most to, and she said “and what do you want me to do about it?”…I laughed because it’s so true…

People tend to share their problems, as if that might solve them, but that time might be better spent looking for a solution.15233550_10209207006444055_1453880822_o

So I am making more changes…in the hopes that each time I get almost better, the better will last longer, and the fall back down will be less, until one day when people say that my injury will stop me, I won’t even have the thought that it is unfair, or even possible.

Mental strength is so much more important that physical strength in so many ways.

I was thinking about this on the weekend…The physio asked me if the pain was as bad as when I first tore the tendons…and I tried to think about it…

The interesting thing about pain is, that if you think back to the worst emotional pain you have ever been in, you can still remember the physical feeling of it…BUT, if you remember back to the worst physical injury you have ever had, you can remember how that made you feel emotionally, but you cannot remember the physical pain.15515835_10209375636019689_649566707_o

I read about this yesterday, and found that “Memories Trigger Emotional Pain But Not Physical Pain: Recalling the time you broke your leg will not make your leg hurt but recalling the time you felt rejected by your high-school crush will cause you substantial emotional pain. Our ability to evoke emotional pain by merely remembering distressing events is profound and stands in stark contrast to our total inability (thankfully) to re-experience physical pain.” (psychology today)…

So my answer was, “I can’t remember”…and it was true.

Normally I can block out pain, I learnt to do it. You have to train your mind to focus on something else…But sometimes the pain is so strong I can’t, and then my emotional strength for everything else is also reduced. If I burn the toast, or spill my coffee, it will be the worst thing that could have happened ever…and I will overdramatise even the simplest situation…

Also human nature…

But there is one thing about human nature that is stronger than all the rest, and that is our mental capacity to keep going, if we really want to!

So if I can’t remember the physical pain, then it never really existed, and if I want something badly enough, then there is always an exception to the rule…

Don’t play the victim…As my mum says, “just get on with it!”

“quando nós queremos muito uma coisa, fazemos tudo para o conseguir! 🙂 🙂 “


Control…Do you ever really have it? And do you need it?

Do you ever really have control? The short answer is no!

Of course you have control over your decisions, but that’s about it.

People fool themselves into thinking they have control. They think because they planned something it will happen that way, they think because they have money that they can control other people, they think that a wedding ring means the person they love will never deceive them, they think they have control over other people’s decisions based on how they themselves behave.

But they don’t.

The worst thing you can do for your own happiness,  is try to control everything around you.14459856_10208669431445016_458653945_n

A lot of people feel the need to control a part of their lives, because they feel helpless and possibility inadequete in other areas of their life.

This may come out in many ways, a desire to be perfect, a need to have everything around you in perfect order, a need to plan everything to the very last minute, a need to make sure other people do as you want them to, or to have others under your control.

I used to get on Batialo and be so afraid of getting hurt, so afraid of letting him slip out of my control for even a second, that I would end up in trouble because Batialo would react to the petrified blob on top of him…I had to retrain myself to just let go, to trust him,to lose control.13568999_10207987024585271_9110582066519524617_o

Depression,  for me, is when you lose control over your own thoughts, you lose the ability to say, “thats bullshit” when you tell yourself you are worthless, and life is meaningless.

Being out of control is one of lifes greatest gifts actually, but not many people know how to really enjoy it. I have always loved to just let my horse go, to gallop on my farm in Australia, out of control…Maybe that is why horse riders feel like riding is a part of them, because they love the idea that you cannot control the horse, but you must work with him…a partnership. And the best partnerships are honest, and equal :).

My mum always said that if people don’t like you for who you are, they won’t like you any more for who you pretend to be. And yet in life it is often that people try to act a certain why around you until they feel they have you figured out…

People control, and manipulate, using status, or shared ideas, and nod along like a  puppet, to earn other people trust or approval.

People often think it is manipulation, and it is, but it is also a form of control. People like to put you, or keep you, in a certain position…

I remember when I first started competing on Batialo people would tell me how lucky I was to have such a great horse…They told me so often that I almost believed it. Then I would remember that I had trained the horse for 5 years, so he was in part so great because of me…Everybody knows you can ruin a good horse in less than one month.

Learning to control how other people effect you, is about controlling your own thoughts, and having the self-belief and self-worth to separate the bullshit from the truth.

Learning to control how life affects you, is understanding that everything you get, you have to work for, and then learning to deal with the things that happen by not playing a victim, but accepting it and overcoming it.

Because in a world where nothing is really ever in your control, the one thing you can control, is how things affect you, and how you react to the things that happen, when they happen…

“It’s about learning to

love all the wonderful parts of life, that are out of your control…”

below in Portuguese…

Serà que alguma vez chega mesmo a ter controle?

A reposta mais rápida, e não!

Claro que você controla as suas decisões, mas não mais do que isso.

As pessoas enganam-se quando pensam que têm controle. Pensam que controlam porque fazem planos para as coisas acontecerem de determinada maneira. Pensam que por ter dinheiro podem controlar as outras pessoas, pensam que por ter um anel de noivado, significa que a pessoa que amam nunca as irá enganar, pensam que controlam as decisões dos outras, baseados no seu próprio comportamento.

Mas não controlam.

A pior coisa que você pode fazer para sua própria felicidade, é tentar controlar tudo ao seu redor.

Muitos pessoas sentem a necessidade de controlar uma parte de suas vidas, porque se sentem impotentes e inadaptadas em outras áreas de sua vida.

Isso pode acontecer de várias maneiras, o desejo de ser perfeito, o desejo de ter tudo ao seu redor em perfeita ordem, a necessidade de planear tudo até au último minuto, a necessidade de se certificar de que as outras pessoas fazem o que você quer, ou ter os outros sob o seu controle.

Eu costumava montar o Batialo e ter muito medo de o magoar, medo de perder o controle sobre ele e de o deixar fugir, mas isto iria trazer-me problemas porque o Batialo ira reagir à bolha de petrificada que estava em cima dele. Eu tive de aprender a confiar nele e deixa-lo ir, de confiar nele e perder o meu sentido de controlo.

Para mim, depressão, é quando uma pessoa perde o controlo sobre os seus próprios pensamentos, a pessoa perde a capacidade de dizer “isso é um disparate”, quando a pessoa diz a si própria que é inútil e a vida não tem sentido.

Perder o controlo é na realidade uma das melhores coisas que a vida nos dá, mas não há muitos pessoas que o saibam apreciar. Na minha quinta na Australia, eu sempre gostei de deixar o meu cavalo galopar sem controlo…Talvez seja por isso que os cavaleiros sentem que montar é uma parte deles. Elas adoram a ideia de não controlar o cavalo, mas há que trabalhar com ele, é uma parceria…E as melhores parcerias baseiam-se na honestidade e na igualdade.

A Mãe sempre me disse que se as pessoas não gostam de nós por aquilo que somos, não vão gostar mais por aquilo que nós pretendemos ser.

Mais as pessoas manipulam e controlam, usando o seu status, ou partilhando ideias, e acenando como marionetes, na tentativa de ganhar confiança ou a aprovação dos outras.

As pessoas muitos vezes pensam de que é manipulação, e é, mas também e uma forma de controlo. As pessoas gostam de colocar os outras ou mantê-los debaixo de olho.

Lembro-me de quando comecei a competir com o Batialo, as pessoas comentaram a sorte em que eu tinha em ter cavalo fantástico….disseram-me tanta vez que eu quase acreditei. Mas depois lembrei-me de que era eu quem tinha treinado aquele cavalo durante os últimos anos. Por isso a sua grandeza era muito por causa de mim.

Aprender a controlar o efeito do que os outros têm sobre si, é controlar os teus próprios pensamentos e ter o autoconfiança e autoestima para separar a verdade da mentira.

Porque num mundo em que nada está realmente no seu controle, a única coisa que podemos controlar, é a forma como as coisas nos afetam e a forma como vamos reagir ao que acontece.

E sobre aprender a amar tudo o que na vida está fora de controlo.

(Not perfect, but better than google 😉 )

Breast cancer awareness month…Finding out early gave someone I adore 20 more years of life….and she continues to fight it everyday

One In A Million…

I was always told that you were lucky if you found a ‘one in a million’ anything.

Yesterday I was watching Iota (my young Lusitano) going and my trainer/mate said that I have two, ‘one in a million’, horses. 15537076_10209375587378473_541122431_o

Maybe it was luck.

Mum said it is because I just wanted to find that one in a million horse more than anyone else.

Maybe there are actually lots of one in a million everythings, but it’s just up to the person deciding, to determine if it’s ‘one in a million’ or not.

On Tuesday I got a rather big scare, when a truck hit a tree just metres from Batialo’s nose. He reacted on instinct, but then did that thing that makes a rider feel so amazing, he waited for me to tell him what to do. Some horses lose their mind, while others, if they know the rider, will in situations where they are really afraid, put their faith in the rider. They will wait, and listen, until they are told what to do.

A ride on Kaptain, we got threw ok, but the others following us all fell off…Kaptain new the creek would be deep, he knew me 😛

Other horses go that one step further and protect the rider on instinct. My quarter horse Kaptain, used to keep me safe from anything, and it was lucky I had him growing up because I had absolutely zero fear, and I never thought about where I went on him, I just went, and I went as fast as I could.

On Tuesday my confidence took a beating, until I woke up the next day and the physio said my hip is “impeccable”, and I have to actually start to believe that the year of work I have put into my body, (pilates and stopping all my instincts to push myself too hard), actually helps me!.

Physical injury is one thing, mental recovery can take forever. I miss the way I used to ride, like nothing could touch me. I miss just being able to enjoy it. But I guess everyone misses some sense of their younger self, and everyone has something they lose when life gets in the way.14711397_1095663517135495_7348025929303919205_o

Animals teach us so many things. Empathy, trust, love, friendship…People ask me why I am in Portugal, and there are many reasons, but when I arrived here I was weak, and then I got Batialo. I knew that I was lucky to have him, so I had to get strong, to ride him. And my desire to ride him and be the best for him was greater than any bullshit in my head about not being good enough, in life or in riding.

Sometimes we are better for other people. I became the person I am today, because my instincts said to take care of my mum, and I learned to love being there for someone else.

My Pa would say that my nen made him a better man, because he wanted to be strong for her, she would say the same.

I am often asked how to become stronger, how to overcome injury, or most often I am asked how do you overcome fear?

You don’t.

You just have to want to do it, more than what stops you. There will always be reasons not to do things. If I didn’t ride I would not have pain, yah, and I would be miserable.

We all go to the same place. We can’t take a perfectly formed bone structure with us. So we ride around all day and our muscles ache, and our neck cracks, and our back gets blocked, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

dressIf you want it badly enough, then all those reasons won’t matter, and then you have to work so hard that no-one will make you doubt that you are not the one in a million rider, for that one in a million horse.



Can You Put Things In Perspective??…

Sometimes I wonder if people really know what is important. Of course not everyone places the same importance on the same things, but regardless of what you want in life, there are times when you have to take a step back and make sense of it all.

Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness! Get your boobs checked!!!!

Sometimes it is other people give us perspective. I used to get really down about my injury, and then I would talk to my aunty who battles cancer everyday, and has done so for over 20 years, and my mind automatically finds some perspective on my own pain.

Other times new people show us a new perspective…On the weekend a friend told me I am very maternal, because I love to take care of people…I never thought of myself like that, so it took me a bit by surprise, and it was certainly a new perspective.

It can also help to have someone who asks you “Does that really matter?”.
Sometimes we get caught up in the bullshit of it all, or we focus too much on things that are not at all important, and forget the bigger picture…

I am learning to put things in perspective…I have a bad ride, and I feel like I am going no-where, and it’s all a waste of time. But it is one bad ride, and the road back to competition is not a straight line, not at all.

This week was the first big spin in over four months. I asked Valdeni what was going on, because it was really strange, and he told me that Batialo usually has a nap after breakfast, but I rode early, without said “very important” nap, and Batialo let me know that he was rather pissed off about it! I laughed because my horse is too smart, and also too spoilt! 14954278_10209031161208034_1150393346_o

It was at the start of the ride when he spun, and I took deep breathe, and kept going, and he ended up going really well. I used to freeze and then wait for the next spin to happen…

I have learnt to put things in perspective, and to move on from that moment or that thought.

I was told recently that people often get stuck on the one thought and then play it on repeat…I thought about it. It’s true. We often recycle a thought in our brain, and we lose sight of the fact that we can think the same thing 100 times, but that won’t change it!11144950_10205995678002851_6937707197164708269_n

Learning to tell yourself that yes that might happen, but why not wait until it does happen before you worry about it unneccessarily!

I have days where I still feel like it’s all a big waste of time. Then I remind myself that I have come this far, alone, and Valdeni says that my own ego was always my own worst enemy. He is right, and I hate to admit it.

I am someone who learnt very early to do everything by herself. When I would have trouble a false sense of pride would kick in and I would tell everyone it was fine and I could handle it. I still remember the day when I was hanging with my arms and legs wrapped up around Batialo’s neck, and the gardener walked past and asked if I was ok and should he go get someone, and I replied “no, it’s all good!”…

Ego and pride, are two very different things, but they can often get mixed up together. I am proud of how I rode this week because I rode through it, and I didn’t get upset about it. 14509413_10208677768813445_770818149_n

I have always said that self-awareness is one of the greatest assets to any rider, and any person really. How much better are the conversations we have, where we know the person will actually hear us, without their ego rejecting our opinions, and with the self-awareness to at least acknowledge we might have a point?

People that can reflect on life without judgement, or criticism, knowing that there is no right or wrong answer, because everyone is different.

Portugal actually helped me find perspective, because I took a step out of everything, and into something entirely new. We live in a world where everyone is so concerned about what will happen next that they miss out on what is happening now. 

Sometimes it helps to take a step back, and ask yourself, “Am I being realistic?” This week I thought about my back up plan and what I want out of life if my first plan doesn’t work out. The most important thing to remember is that we only have right now, and regardless of who you are, all that matters is that you  are happy.

The second thing to ask is…”Is that really important?”

If it is not important, forget about it!!

If it is really important, “am I putting everything into it?”, and just in case my everything isn’t enough, to make sure that whatever happens, I am and will be happy…

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere their page to find out more...
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…


Below my mare for sale…write to me at for more info






Are You A Strong Person…??

They say that you cannot build strong castles on weak foundations.

A person with a weak character will rarely appear strong, at least not to those that really know them.

It’s interesting though that strong people can become weak, if they are pushed to their absolute limit.

Some people think that if you never show weakness you are strong. Quite the contrary. When I was weak I would show nothing of my true self to anyone.15491838_10209366304186399_1063649507_o

Now that I am strong, I don’t let unimportant things affect me, but if it is important, I will show that I need help, or advice, or just someone to be there.

Yesterday someone tried to insult me, and I said, “you are right”, and they were not sure where to go from there. The truth is if you know your own weaknesses, you can except the truth, and deal with it.

“Wear your scars like armour, and they can never be used to hurt you.” (Game of Thrones 😉 )

No Sugar Lumps For you Today?

The best thing I did was to admit I needed help with Batialo, because just being humble enough to say it, made people respect me more.

I think too that strong people react to things differently. When Batialo used to spin I would get very upset, and afraid, and worry about the pain. Now I just shrug it off, and move on. And because I don’t react, he doesn’t do it as much.

When he does, like he did yesterday, I don’t let my mind stay stuck on it, but I ask for help. Not from a place of weakness, but a place of honesty, and humility, that way people actually want to help you!

I talk a lot about suicide in my blog, because for many years I felt so ashamed of my father, mainly because there is a huge stigma around suicide, and the belief that people who commit suicide must be weak, or crazy, an outsider, someone who does not fit in with society.

Tomorrow is my father’s birthday, and I feel a bit alone…I was remembering today who he was. To be honest I wish I knew him better…I can just remember the way that he made me feel, things he said, the way he looked at me. But I do remember that more than 700 people turned up on our front lawn for his funeral, and cars were parked some kilometres up the dirt road to our house.

He was loved by many…a popular, sporty, community man. Not a single person who came that day knew him as anything but happy and strong, and grateful for his family that he adored.

But he committed suicide.

Do I understand it? I never will. Is there anything I wish to know? No there isn’t. I am so grateful for everything I have, and everything I had, and everything that I went through. It made me a person who loves everyday, who cares so much about people, who would do anything to make someone smile, because I learnt early that you just never know when they won’t be there anymore.

I write this not to dwell on the past, but to acknowledge that life can change people…Or destroy people. I was told recently that you don’t get to choose how you react to things, and I don’t believe that. I think who you are shapes your reactions, so there must have been a lot happening underneath the strong image that my father presented, but he never admitted it.

We all have stuff that we deal with. Some deal with it better than others. But if there is one thing I have learnt in my life, it is that showing weakness, or asking for help, actually makes you a strong person!


Just Enjoy it!!…

I read today that there is no difference between a weak person and a strong person, just the weak person knows how to control their own mind, and they don’t give up on what they want…

They also don’t make excuses…sun-7

Everyone has stuff they need to deal with, I love listening to people explain why they behave a certain way, or aren’t where they want to be in life, by starting out with…When I was younger, or 20 years ago, or my dad did this, or my mum did this, or my wife does this, or I didn’t get this, and I think…Wow, that is so great, now you can use that for the rest of your life as a reason not to change!

I never wanted to use my injury as an excuse not to keep going.

Four weeks ago I was having one good ride in ten. My friend said to me this week that I have been saying “that was the best ride ever” a lot lately, and I realised that now it’s more like one bad ride in ten!! 🙂 🙂

I stopped worrying about where I should be, and took the advice of my mother which was always, “for god sake Sarah just enjoy it!”. Even when I was little I would worry about things, about how other people felt, and what might happen…Gradually you realise that how other people feel is up to them, and it’s up to you to make yourself happy.

It’s amazing how much it helps, when you just learn to enjoy the right now!

Today my trainer/judge was watching me Piaffe and he said that he was “surprised how good it was”, and he genuinely was! He even wrote me a message afterwards saying the same!!15368967_10209297132577152_513538420_o

I love to surprise people. Particularly if it’s a good surprise.

I left the arena on cloud nine, and a person at my gym was joking with me and said… “You know Sarah, most girls mood depends on whether or not they are having a good hair day, your mood depends on how your horse went!”

He was kidding, but I laughed because it’s true. I can tell how mum’s horse went that day, just by the tone of her voice on Skype when she says hello!

I have a long way to go, but the small victories are important, and this week I had a week full of amazing rides, on a horse that was trying hard for me, and while that isn’t a big achievement in a wider sense, for me it feels like the best Christmas present I could ask for ;).merry





Doing The Right Thing…Or the Right Thing for YOU!!

I spent two hours on Saturday talking to Mum about why I am in Portugal.


She said that as you get older, you realise how important it is to have family memories, and family to share them with.

Course I had been up all night Friday being sick, which is the only time I really just want my Mum ;)!

But Mum said it’s the family stories that shape who you are…and I agreed with her, but who I am, was built on the memories I have here in Portugal…

The person I am now, was shaped in Portugal.

There is a part of me that always thought I would go back to Australia. But there is also a part of me that always thought I would have a family of my own, kids of my own…

When those things don’t seem to turn out…you start holding onto the things that you do know…

I know that I love to ride, I know that I love my friends, I know that I love who I am, and sure there are things about me that I would love to change, but there is nothing that I am ashamed of.

Ulisses Farewell
Ulisses Farewell

Today Ulisses my older Lusitano left for the UK, and it felt like losing a mate…My horses were my family in Portugal, when I knew no-one.

I relied on them, to be there. Mum always used to tell me not to get attached to my horses, but that is impossible.

Maybe it was just the massive headache from the flu, but I didn’t know how to answer mums questions about Australia. Course she misses me, and we have the same talk every year around christmas when I start to get “saudades” and she feels I am not myself.

But she knows that I associate Australia with the person that I was, and all the memories that go with it…She knows too, that that is all bullshit, because of course if I went home now I would stay as strong and as independent as I am now, just with my family around me.

But do I need that? No, I don’t. I love my life. People too often do the thing that sounds right, or is right for everyone else…I spent 15 years doing everything that was right for everybody else, and I was miserable.eye7

It seems contradictory, but doing the right thing, can actually be the worst thing for you.

Mum said, that I am a person who always thinks about making other people happy. That may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. Staying in Portugal was the most selfish thing I have ever done, and it was a surprise to most people who had seen me work everyday on the farm since I was little, not because I was suppose to, but because I wanted to.

Are you someone who always does what is expected of you?

Or are you someone who only ever thinks about themselves?

If you read the two above you might think the second is worse, but I admire the people who fall into the second category, and even more the ones who can find a balance between the two.

Mum tells me often that I could afford to be a  bit more selfish in my thinking, to tell people NO, to not justify or apologise…It’s easier said than done, but I will keep working on it 😉

So when I say to mum that I might want to stay in Portugal, I think that she is not at all disappointed, because actually she knows that whatever I decide, it will be for me,and that’s actually all she ever wanted.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere their page to find out more...
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…



Looking Back…Looking Forward…How Was Your 2016?


As we head into Christmas, most people start to reflect on the year, on their life.

2016 on a global scale has been sited as the year where the world turned against the establishment…With Britain leaving the EU, and America voting in a game show host as President.

On a personal level it was the year I very nearly gave up and sold Batialo…and then didn’t.

Just two years until the World Equestrian games, and whether I make it or not, I am already winning, because I just love what I do!…

It was my sister’s birthday last week, and I was lying in bed yesterday and I thought, “my birthday is next”.

Followed by an awfully strange feeling of guilt and sadness. It’s my father’s birthday first.IMG_20150304_182008

This year could have been a really hard one. I had tendon inflammation, a lot of pain, and I couldn’t do the thing that I love to do.

Horse riding, is not so much a sport, but a religion for horse people. I was talking to a friend yesterday who said when she doesn’t do Yoga she feels something is missing, and I understood that feeling. I am also someone who needs to do a lot of physical sport or activity, so in the beginning it was hard for me, to just do nothing…

Some of the great times of 2016, with the best people, and the best horses 🙂 🙂

However, it turned out to be the best year I’ve had, since I can remember. Guess sometimes your best mates, help you more than even they realise.

I’m so grateful to those people.

I also admitted a lot of things to myself, because like I said we deceive ourselves all the time, and I feel proud of how much I have changed.

It’s great to surprise yourself, particularly when you just did it for yourself.

And it is amazing, when you can focus your mind on what’s important, how much better your horse goes!! Nothing surprises me more than just how much animals understand, without you telling them anything.


“The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.” Buck Brannaman

I have to admit, Christmas isn’t the easiest time for me. I think I would actually be fine overseas by myself, except that people ask “so what are you doing on Christmas”, but with a look like I might break in half and run off to cry in the corner.merry

Truth is I am perfectly fine.(and not the fine women say when they are not fine, but the actual fine ;)… I have my horses, I talk to my mum everyday, we are closer now than we have ever been, and I have friends that I love to be around.

People put a lot of pressure on christmas as the day to bring everyone together, but really you should be there for the people that matter, and be grateful for them, everyday. I try to be. Of course it’s hard being on the other side of the world.

I thank my mum all the time. For supporting me, and not thinking I was nuts when I called one day and told her I was staying In Portugal to be a top rider, without a horse, a contact, or a place to stay.

I wish I could thank my father. I can now admit, and not feel somehow weakened by the fact, that I still miss him. I can talk about him openly without getting upset, but then sometimes, like the moment above, I will burst into tears just for forgetting that his birthday is before mine.

For a long time I never let myself think about him, and when I did it would be to remind myself of how disappointed he would be in me.

Now I think about him a lot, in the completely opposite way…Thinking just how much he missed, and how much I wished he knew me.

He would have loved Portugal, but more than that I wish he got to see the person I turned out to be, and how much I just love my life._20150605_123836

Christmas is always a time of reflection and planning. Asking where you are, and where you want to be…

I have set my sights on the World Equestrian Games, and I have made a plan for how I can best make that happen. As my friend told me, first eliminate all the obstacles and unreliable elements, and then just give it everything.

The best part is, if I don’t make it, I love every day that I spend training my Portuguese horse, in his homeland, a country rich in history, (and seafood), so not only am I looking back on this year and smiling, but I’m looking to tomorrow and I just can’t wait!sun-7




Giving advice…

“People, in general,” he said, “only ask advice not to follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of having someone to blame for having given it.”

A quote from “The Three Musketeers”, a great film.

Giving advice is not always simple.15175379_10209164490821191_1406640283_n

Firstly, you need to learn when to give advice, and the best time is usually when the person actually asked for it…

I will never forget a very early video of Batialo and I when he was still very young, at our first competition. A lady wrote to me saying that I really should start my warm-up on a loose rein walk…I thought brilliant idea if you want me to get killed.

Then you need to know if the person will actually accept the advice.

Today a friend wrote to me asking my opinion about something. I gave it. She said I didn’t know what I was talking about. I said possibly not, but the reason you asked me is because I will tell you what I think not what you want to hear.

She said “yep”, and knew that she was doing what a lot of us do. We ask advice, and when it isn’t the advice we want, we try to convince the person of our point of view.

So then why ask advice in the first place if you already know the answer you want?

In dressage, there are lots of people who seem to think their advice is valuable, even if it’s not asked for. “Dressage Critics” who possibly can’t even trot on a 20 metre circle, but feel it’s needed to condemn everyone else. I love criticism, it’s what helps you get better, but you need to have all the information before you can pass judgement.

Trainers are paid to give advice…and in my experience there are two types of trainers…the ones that take your money and tell you what you want to hear, or the ones that tell you the truth, and risk that you might not return…

11357057_10205406431392054_1759484067382632414_oOr there is my mum who tells you not to bother coming in the first place if she thinks it’s a waste of her time 😉

I know countless people who have gone to top trainers, and not improved at all, because the trainer knew that they A would not accept the truth, and/or B not listen or try to change anyway.

I remember the first lesson where I didn’t try to do what mum said, and I turned around to ask her a question and she had gone home.

Knowing who to ask for advice, is about knowing who is honest…Knowing which trainer will tell you the truth, is about knowing who really gives a shit if you improve or not.

Asking for advice is good, but sometimes we ask because we just want to justify or support the idea we already have.

It can never hurt to have a second opinion, just make sure that you’re open to the possibility  that the advice you get might not be in line with what you want to hear, and the chance that even if it isn’t, it doesn’t mean it is the wrong advice ;).


Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere their page to find out more...
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…