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 😉 )

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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 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!15537076_10209375587378473_541122431_o

 

 

 

 

Self-Deception…Who Are You Really Deceiving?…”Honest Liars”

Being honest with yourself, about yourself, is such a complex thing…

I read a quote today that said
“I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”
― S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders

 

I smiled because it’s true…

Self deception is far more common than we think.

Beijo...NAILED IT!!
Beijo…NAILED IT!!

Some people lie about their age, or their dress size, or how much they really ate that day. Some lies we tell ourselves for survival, we convince ourselves that what we see on the news will “never happen to us”…

Other lies we tell to justify our behaviour…”I only yelled at you because you yelled at me first”…”I don’t have a problem with alcohol but yes I have to drink everyday”… but there must come a point where we can distinguish the lie from the truth…The sad part is some people lose this ability…

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. ”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

We all know someone like this…And it’s easy to see that they are an “honest liar” in the sense they believe the bullshit they are telling you, and the bullshit is quite clearly…bullshit.

But sometimes it’s not so black and white…Sometimes people lie to themselves and to others as a form of protection…I remember when my dad died people would say “I know it will all work out”, or “it will all be alright I know it”…and I would think, what will work out, pretty sure nothing will work out. This is just shit, and it will stay shit, and that’s how it is…but I appreciated their effort.

14543712_10208886056780514_1647359598235895250_oAnimals are the best when it comes to self-deception…As a rider it’s easy to fool yourself, it’s much harder to fool your horse…Batialo knows if I’m afraid before I get on him, even if I have convinced myself I am not…He knows if I’m not ok, even if I’ve told myself that I am…The single greatest asset to a rider is self-awareness, and self awareness is literally the absence of self-deception!

 

I laughed recently because a man told me that he needed to take one of my horses to “re-train” it, because he had “a method”. I said no rather bluntly and made a pretty obvious sarcastic comment, and he just assumed I knew nothing of his “talents”…

Two weeks later he entered three dressage tests and was belled out in two of them because the horse just stopped…I thought “wow, what a great method”, and was reminded again of how much rubbish and self-appreciation (arrogance) people use on themselves in order to make them feel superior to others

I read that people who deceive themselves constantly are actually just showing themselves as weak, because they don’t have the psychological strength to first admit the truth and then deal with the consequences.

The best people you will ever know are the ones who know that yes you can lie to yourself, and yet try to figure out their own truth, even if it isn’t the truth the other people see, or that other people approve of.

People who are humble enough to recognise their own weaknesses, and not pretend to be better or less than anyone else.

No-ones battle is harder, or easier, it just is…I cannot tell you that my pain is worse than yours, or that I have been through more, because you can’t measure it and I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to be you, or pretend to myself that I know more or less than you do…

Yes, Self-deception is something that will always be there, but the new thing, that I think has come about because of the increased awareness of mental health, is the “oh but I was depressed” people…

I was talking to Mum this morning about the increase in the number of people who seem to blame everything on depression. Yes I lied and cheated and was an awful human being “but I was depressed”. Like that somehow makes it all ok…

Truth is, if you actually have depression, more often than not you rarely talk about it, and if you do it’s not to excuse a bad behaviour, but more to admit something that you feel truly ashamed and sad about.

We were talking about adults who throw tantrums, or lie to others, and then tell themselves that it wasn’t their fault because they were just depressed…

I think this brings self-deception to a new level, and unfortunately depression is such a complex thing that it’s very hard to know how to deal with it.

Mum says that I got depressed when I was still very young, and I tried to hide it for as long as I could.

Depression isn’t a bad day, or a bad week, and it’s not something that excuses bad behaviour, because typically if you are depressed you feel as if you need to make everything ok, and you don’t want to excuse yourself for anything, because you feel as if you deserve everything you get.

But how do you tell if someone is really depressed and reaching out to you, or is just using that as an excuse for their bad behaviour? I wish I knew the answer…Usually the person is alone, or feels alone, and usually they don’t have the energy to throw the tantrums, or the mental will to lie or deceive…Having been hit incredibly hard with the effects of depression though, I would always side on caution because I would be too afraid to risk that the person really was depressed.

But I feel disappointed by the thought that people would use this as an excuse, to lie to themselves, to make others worry when they know they could have prevented, or stopped themselves from acting that way.15052207_10209106607374141_1016170260_o

I have bad days still, everybody does, but I would never ever tell someone, or excuse myself for something that I did, or a behaviour that I had, by saying that “I was depressed”.

I have said it before that you DO get to chose how you react to the things that happen to you…Sure you won’t always act the right way, but I would ALWAYS prefer a person who admits that they just acted badly, over a person who deceives themselves into believing that their behaviour was just a consequence of something they could not control.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Summertime Sadness?…NOPE!

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Yesterday someone told me that you don’t get to choose how you react to the things that happen to you…I don’t agree.

Maybe when you are a child perhaps not, but I have always been told that nothing good comes easily, and the making of a good person is not how they handle the good times but how they react to the bad…

When I was 8 I came out of a dressage test in tears because my pony just stopped and tried to eat a tree at the side and mum said that if I ever did that again she would sell all the horses and I would have to stop riding.

I learnt early on that no amount of preparation can prepare you for everything and at some point you need to learn to just go with it.

It’s true that some things you can’t prevent…I don’t think there was much that could have been done to prevent the downward spiral I went into after my dad’s suicide, but I still wish I knew then what I know now. That everyone you meet in life has there own stuff do deal with, and more often than not nothing you did, or could have done, would have changed it…

Having a goal changed my life, but of course not everyday will go how you want it to, however there is always something you can take out of it.

People will tell you that everything happens for a reason, I think that is crap. I think everything happens, period, and it’s how you cope with it, and ultimately learn from it that defines who you are, who you become, and who stays with you.

Since just making the decision to get to WEG I have been pushing myself harder, and while there are many more good rides because I’m more focused, every now and then I have a really bad ride, that reminds me of how far I’ve come, and also that I always need to be ready to deal with new challenges.

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WINTER IS COMING…and so is a new clothing sponsor woo hoo 😉

Nothing just happens, nothing is given to you, and nothing good comes easily!

You have to work at it…everyday.

I talk often of my grandparents, but their marriage was one that I think is unfortunately rather rare, and my grandfather used to say that love was something you did, everyday. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Today I finished the lesson disappointed in myself, and I really hate that feeling.

Knowing that you could have done better, or reacted better, but you didn’t…

That feeling lasted two minutes, because after that you have to move on. I have had people writing to me asking about something they did on the horse two weeks ago, and my reply is, why are you still worried about that?…move on!

I read a post today about how miserable winter is, and like many things in life there is good in everything, but for the last two years I actually started to love winter…

When I was depressed I would get cold, but a cold that I couldn’t warm up from. Now I feel warm, even when it’s cold, it sounds strange but it’s like being happy just makes you naturally warmer 😉

I rode in the rain today, and it was so much fun! Bob Marley used to say “some people feel the rain, others just get wet!”IMG_8269

I’ve learnt in life that it’s always going to rain at some point…worrying about when it will rain, crying because it’s raining, or thinking about the time it rained…well, you are just wasting that time you could be spending in the sun!! 🙂

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Setting a New Goal…

14689708_10208841767393307_1892293369_o-2Starting again is never easy…Starting again after riding, starting again in a new house, a new place, with a new person…Whatever it is that ended, the new beginning always takes a new level of strength, and if you are smart, a new level of understanding…

Today I was nervous to ride because on Friday we had an incident and by Friday night my back was causing quite a lot of pain…

I am learning though, that the less you focus on it, the less you feel it, and it’s amazing how much pain we eliminate if we just don’t give it any importance.

I woke up on Sunday feeling really great again, happy that the recovery is getting shorter each time, and I read the announcement that the World Equestrian Games for 2018 will be in September in North America…

And just like that I decided, that I would be there, with Batialo…Course there are 1 million things that need to fall into place for that to happen, but if you never set your sights on something it won’t just magically happen.

I told Mum, and she laughed…I said why are you laughing and she said of course you can do that, I’m laughing because you are just deciding now.

I told Batialo on Sunday as well that “we were going to WEG”, and today he was just amazing, trotting with his feet up near his face, I swear he hears every word that I say to him…I hated to have to tell him that the World Championships weren’t actually today, but not for another two years 😉

I was so disappointed last year to make it so far and then stop because of injury, but mum reminded me that technically my goal was to compete internationally, which I achieved, so the next goal has to be bigger!

If you ask if I have enough people around me who believe that I can make it, the answer is probably no…but if you ask me if I believe enough in myself not to care the answer is absolutely yes.

Every time I read a story about an athlete who made it, it never starts out with, “he had a super easy ride and everything was great, and came easily, and ta da he made it”…buttre-wouldnt-melt

I was talking with a friend recently who agreed that more often than not the athletes that really make it have the mental capacity to overcome the hurdles that everyone faces. Your body will always need to take pain, your mind is what tells your body to keep going anyway.

My hip hurts everyday…yep…can I do anything about it?…nothing that I’m not already doing..so I can cry about it, or I can get on with it.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is wake up when you are too old to do anything and realise that you could have done it. I don’t want to be that person…14686425_10208841880516135_448099613_n

Your goal doesn’t have to be the world. Your goal might be to get back riding, or to compete in preliminary, or to work out the balance between family and riding. What ever your goal is, it’s yours, others don’t need to understand it, approve of it, or even believe in it.

If I look back I want to say, well I gave it everything I had, and whether I make it or not I will have a hell of a lot of fun on the journey.

These last two years have been the best of my life. Not because they were easy years, but because I became the person that I wanted to be, and now I will put that to good use.

Sure I still have fear, because I’m human and I care about the lives of the people I love enough to care about my own.

They say that if people aren’t laughing at your dreams then they aren’t big enough! I have many dreams that I would love to fulfill, some of which I can make happen, and others which I cannot, but one thing is for sure, if you don’t try I will never know.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

 

 

Faith…

I have always been a person who put her faith in animals. I learnt very early to trust a horse with my life, and I have put my faith in every horse I have had throughout the 28 years that I have been riding.

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This year I lost my faith in Batialo because I lost faith in myself…

It’s been just over a month since I started back riding and I already feel like I have direction again. I wake up everyday earlier just because I love so much my life…I can’t wait to get to the stables and see Batialo, ears pricked waiting for me 🙂

I’ve always been a competitive person and Mum used to say that whatever I did in life, she knew I would want to be the best at it. The best writer, the best teacher, the best rider…

When I took off overseas and said I was going to compete internationally, she didn’t question it, despite the fact that I was heading off alone.

She put her faith in me. She always did.

I have decided to put my faith in Batialo, and hope that that is enough for him to put his faith in me also. It is working. He feels that I trust him, and today again I let the reins go and let him gallop around the arena, and he knew that I knew he would keep me safe.

13568999_10207987024585271_9110582066519524617_oThere are many different types of faith…When someone asks me what I believe in, to be honest I’m not that sure. I believe that what goes around comes around, I believe that what you put out you get back.

My grandparents were possibly one of the greatest influences in my life, and they were faithful to church and religion, because it gave them something to hope for. It got stronger as they got older, and they realised that they could not be together forever.

To be honest I don’t mind what you believe in, as long as you don’t force those beliefs onto other people. It’s good to believe in something, to have faith in something…I saw what happened to my father when he lost his lost faith in everything, and it’s like he had already died, even when he was still living.

Putting faith in a higher power is one thing, putting faith in other people is more difficult.

But the most difficult one is allowing others to put their faith in you, and then actually living up to it…
Having the courage to say “bet on me, because I am the one who will make it”.

It sounds simple, but in reality accepting the faith of others requires a great deal of strength, and also the self-belief that their faith is justified.
People put faith in you for many reasons, faith that you are a good friend, faith that you can keep a secret, faith that you are a good investment, or a person worth listening to.
Faith that you will keep up your end of the bargain, faith that you know what you are doing, even if sometimes you feel as if you don’t.
My mum put incredible faith in me and my decision to pursue what I love, but I know that she also loves to be part of something bigger, and even if I never get there, her faith inspires me to be my best.

This morning someone wrote to me to say they feel pressure, because people are putting their faith in them, and they feel the weight of expectation…
I told them to consider the alternative…being a person that noone ever puts any faith in 😉

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Adrenaline…RISK…What Drives Us To Get Back On?

The other day Batialo fell down in the rain…I held on, and managed to come back up still on top. My heart was racing…Adrenaline…

I read recently that life is a lot like a poker game…There is both an element of luck and skill involved, but essentially it all comes down to what you’re willing to risk…

There are days when Batialo walks down to the arena feeling like he is ready to leap sideways, or up, or across, or spin, at the slightest shift of any imaginary nothing around us.

When we set foot in the arena he charges off and I just fly along, keeping his attention through inside flexions and transitions, and praying a little that nothing leaps out of nowhere.943833_10206664718168437_7607689385086313369_n

Of course those are the days when a dog runs across the arena, and the jumping ‘idiot’ decides to jump the dressage arena edge in front of me. The garbage truck comes, and then the man cuts a tree down off to the side. Oh and the new one is the people who drive past and toot their car horn at me, because that helps a lot!! Batialo now thinks his butt looks great 😉

But on the days when Batialo still somehow manages to stay within my control, and I somehow manage to not lose my cool…Those are the rides when I feel the most adrenaline, because he is letting himself go, but still listening to me.

You see dressage pairs where the rider has dominated the horse, then you see the ones where the horse wants to do what the rider asks of him…

My greatest ever memory as a kid was when my best friend and I would have galloping races up the hill on our property.

No helmet, completely out of control, we would let our horses go, and they would go! The horses learnt very quickly that we were racing, and race they did!!

Nothing made my heart beat faster. Nothing made me feel more free, more alive. I could forget the world for an instant… I was flying.

The last ever ride out with my dad he said he would race me across the paddock to bring the cattle back onto the farm. There were three paddocks between us and the cattle, and never being a person to shy away from a bet, I took off and he followed. We jumped three fences and galloped some miles to arrive on the neighbouring property, and I will never ever forget the look on my father’s face. I beat him, on a horse that was older than his. He was so proud.hsb

Adrenaline…Is an interesting concept. We all get worried that we will get hurt, but is it a small part the possibility of getting hurt what makes life interesting?

If we rode around on bean bag chairs, that had no real living breathing chance of danger, would it be the same?

The major reason I ride is because of my relationship with horses…But do we as riders also love the adrenaline?

My friend said to me one day that if there wasn’t an element of danger, if I got a horse that just plopped along, well, he said I wouldn’t love it so much.

The best rides you have ever had, if you really asked yourself, were the ones where the horse is working with you, but you are letting him be free, not holding or dominating him.

img_0711-2It’s like when I was young and we would drag race the old cars on the wet tracks through the bush, and that moment when the car lost control but you could ease it gently around the track between the trees, was the most exciting part. You couldn’t steer, but you couldn’t just take your hands off the wheel either…

That is what it’s like when your horse is full of natural powerful energy. If you pull and get tense, it’s dangerous. If you leave him completely, you’ll end up back at the hay stack. So you must guide him, gently, keeping his attention without disturbing him so much that he loses his cool.

It’s not for everyone…At school some kids would say “you are crazy”, others would say, “awesome can I try?”…Some people, often people who are involved in some other sport, like to walk that line. They like a sport that involves adrenaline, or pain, or walking that line of control/out of control.

Maybe it’s just me. But I do feel that a small part of our sport and many sports revolves around the thrill of the risk. Ask a surfer what makes the waves so beautiful? It’s that you can’t tame them, they are not in your control…

But is it just sport?

They say that love is giving someone the power to destroy you but trusting them not to…

Does everything in life that involves the most risk, give us the most reward?

What defines us as riders, and what joins us to most people who love sport, is that in spite of the you might get hurt, you continue anyway… The line that you must learn to delicately balance, the knowledge that if you make the wrong move, put your balance to the wrong side, pull at the wrong time…Well, anything can happen.

What defines us as people, is that everything in life worth having, typically means having less of something else, or the risk that you might end up losing it all.

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

Can You Ever Really Go Home Again?

We have all heard the term “you can never go home again”.

I was talking to one of my best friends recently about how when we look back at our childhood, the sense of freedom, the taste of fresh fruit, the thrill and the adventure of the simplest things in life, can never be recreated, will never feel as good, because our memory makes the experience almost impossibly perfect.

They said that even if you taste the same fruit now, it will never taste as good as the fruit you picked from your own tree, on your own farm, when you were just a kid.

I read recently that the term “you can never go home again” means, in general terms, “that attempts to relive youthful memories are never as fulfilling as during their initial creation.”

I find so much truth in that sentence…

Portugal, was my new beginning, so I see Portugal as an amazing country, not just because of the country itself, but more because of what it brought out in me, or what it allowed me to create for myself. 14689708_10208841767393307_1892293369_o-2

But I always thought I would go home…one day…

But can I?

Mum says I should take one more year to see if I get back competing internationally, and if not I should just ride for fun and redirect my life.

She says of course that I should do this redirection at home.

At some point I stopped understanding what ‘home’ actually meant for me.

Three years ago I went back to Australia, and I didn’t feel at home. I felt like the people in my life were there, but that I was visiting. I was a visitor to Australia, and then I came back home, to Portugal.

I know people who start new lives in different countries, and consider that country home for the rest of their lives.

But, I was talking to an international friend recently who said that yes they do start again overseas, but usually it’s a move with family, or a partner, and they aren’t alone. This friend admitted that he feels alone, and he wants to leave Portugal…

I’m not someone who feels alone. I think you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. I know people surrounded by family and yet they still feel completely alone.

But if I’m honest, life is easier in Australia. I often romanticise moving overseas, but recently mum asked if I want to move to another country in Europe to ride, and I said honestly, “I could not do it alone again”.

14509413_10208677768813445_770818149_nI needed it at the time when I first came, but moving alone to a new country, is like moving house, except this new house is underwater and you have forgotten how to swim.

So mum is right about one thing, it’s Portugal or Australia…She says too that the only way to really know is to go home and see.

Of course my first option would be to get back competing and see where life takes me. Batialo is working with me again, and pilates has helped a lot. My new pilates instructor says that I am strong, not strong for my injury, but strong in general…I believe it!

I hope very much to do Grand Prix next year around Europe…And I hope even more so, for my home base to be Portugal…11411660_10205439596741167_1668263557334878812_o

But I’m lucky that at least in theory, I can ‘go home again’.

Last time I went to Australia it took just ten days to know it wasn’t home anymore…Has that changed now?

Well, there is only one way to find out! But one thing is for sure, Australia, the family farm Horseshoe bend… will never be the way it is in my childhood memories, and depending on what part of my childhood I am remembering that can be either a good, or a bad thing.

 

Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian...like their page to find out more...https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts
Huge shout out to my new sponsor Derriere Equestrian…like their page to find out more…https://www.facebook.com/derriereeq/?fref=ts

What are you wishing for?

It’s coming up to my 31st birthday, and there isn’t anything I wish for, besides things that I can never have, or things that I would prefer to work hard for…

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Almost 31…6 years in Portugal

They say as you get older your wish list gets shorter, because the things you wish for can no longer be bought.

It’s true…

The first thought that comes to my head when I think of turning 31, is 20 years without my father.

It seems like such a long time, but if I picture it, it feels like it happened yesterday.

People talk about missing someone like it’s a thought, but if you truly miss someone it’s a physical thing. It’s as if your whole body gets involved in the feeling, and it’s like you’re breathing, but no air can get in.

People write to me all the time to say that I am very wise for my age, they say I write like I have lived 100 years.

I went from 11 to 50 in a heartbeat, and it’s true that I grew up way too early, and have spent most of my life feeling responsible for other people’s happiness.

It wasn’t until I got to Portugal that I realised that unless you are happy, you are not only not good to other people, but the people who you attract are also unhappy, and the cycle continues.13707732_10208051258311074_4800011340586123624_n

I have discovered that whatever type of person you are you find comfort in knowing those that feel the same as you do.

If you fear something, your greatest comfort is someone who fears the same thing.

When I wrote about fear in riding, so many riders wrote to me to say that it made them feel better, to know that even international riders go through that.

They weren’t alone.

It’s human nature. We find comfort in being able to relate and share things with others, in seeing our own faults, our fears, our weaknesses, reflected in someone else.

When I was suffering from chronic pain, it reassured me when someone else said they ride in pain also. It didn’t change my pain in any way, and yet it made me feel better.

I used to wish I never broke my hip, because it would make my life now so much easier, with the whole ‘trying to be a top horse rider’ 😉

But deep down I know that if it wasn’t for all that, I would not even be here in Portugal trying to go after my dream in the first place…

A lady wrote to me a while ago and asked if I could recommend a stable for her daughter to work and ride at in Europe. I knew the girl and her character and replied that I can recommend somewhere, but she will last between 2 to 4 weeks.

I was not being unfair, I was being honest. The girl just didn’t have the guts to do it…

There are two options for a rider who arrives without a horse at a good stable in Europe…Either you have to ride crazy young horses who are talented and you get treated well, or you have to ride crazy young horses who are talented and you get treated like shit.

If you refuse to ride the horse that is rearing and has its eyes popping out of its head, then you don’t ride…the end. Even the calmer young horse if it’s talented will have big movement, and if it spooks then the spook will be big, power equals power!

7 out of the 10 horses I rode when I first came to Europe were slightly nuts. I was often on horses that would rear up, or flip out.

When mum first watched me ride 5 year old Batialo, she said “I would “NEVER” get on that horse”…I said compared to what I have ridden he is pretty calm really.943833_10206664718168437_7607689385086313369_n

It was the truth.

My point is that often what we wish for to make things easier now, are completely irrelevant, because without that we wouldn’t be here anyway, or we wouldn’t know what we know now.

You appreciate honesty after being lied to, you appreciate love when you lose it. You appreciate and value people that make you happy, far more when they are gone. It’s just how life is.

So I stopped wishing for things that wouldn’t happen and started working harder to be able to cope with the things that happen, when they inevitably do.

I stopped wishing Batialo wouldn’t spin, and starting working so that it wouldn’t hurt me when he did._20150605_123836

I stopped wishing I could still talk to my father, and started appreciating missing him, because even if it hurts, it’s real. He is still my favourite person, because he died before I knew him well enough to be anything but that.

The best thing for me though, when I think about what I want for my birthday, or what I want from my life, is to realise again, that my life is in every way exactly how I would wish for it to be.

I have been told to give Batialo to a rider to get him to Grand Prix and I can just start him when he is already used to everything and mature.14686425_10208841880516135_448099613_n

I could not think of anything less rewarding, and I’m sorry to those who buy Grand prix ready horses to compete, but for me it’s in the teaching, and the learning, and the knowing that every step is a step you made together.

So if you are a person who is wishing for something to happen or wishing something didn’t happen, well, I guess you could keep wishing and see how you go… or you could just get on with it, and work hard to make sure it does work out how you would wish it to!

 

 

Dressage…What is it?

I read a blog recently where the husband of a dressage rider explained to his friends what dressage was…

“Well, it’s like watching grass grow, but much more expensive!”

I have to say I have seen some very funny dressage interpretations from my best friends…14238211_10208515313592166_8316966165366789886_n

When I was young I thought dressage was so very boring. I still remember the night before the state championships and instead of training the test I was out mustering cattle with dad and came back well after the sun had set with a very very dirty and exhausted pony.

Mum said “Never again”, and of course the next day I went in the test and won, so she forget about the never again bit.

Truth is, if you are a sport person you know that there is a lot more that goes into it than what you see. Non-sporty people will watch a tennis match or a football game, and think it’s just about hitting the ball over the net, or into the goal.

I walk past the golfers in Beloura every morning, marching around what is basically a big park, trying to put a small ball in a small hole, and think “you guys are nuts”…

Then I get on my horse in the pouring rain and trot around  in circles in what is basically a big sand pit.

I have competed in dressage since I was 6 and I don’t think any of my friends had a single clue what I did every weekend. They knew I rode horses, and they seemed to think that was ok, but when I would get back from a show they would ask “Did you win the race?”, and I would just answer yes, because it was much easier than trying to explain expensive grass growing in detail.

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Me in front, before I could walk…already on Jimbo

I have been working with Batialo for almost 6 years…It’s a partnership. He knows me better than I know myself. He will follow me anywhere I go and will watch my every move when I’m at the stable…If I think something when I’m on him, he knows it. That is dressage. Dressage is also 5am starts in the freezing cold, and falling off, and horse emergencies, and everything else that comes along with any sport…

If top level sport was easy, then everyone would do it and even if the sport looks rather boring, that doesn’t mean it is simple.

I’m sure there is a lot more to golf than mastering walking and hitting a ball, just as I know there is far more to football than kicking straight towards and into the white net at the end.

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The year after dad died when I was chosen to lead his ride through the bush…Took a short cut through the creek and everyone fell off…Was not asked to lead the ride again 😛

For non-sporty people it can be difficult to explain, for people of any sport, they get it, even if they don’t get what we do when we go around and around in circles, they get that there is a lot more going on.

One of my very first trainers, who used to watch me fly around the arena like a cowgirl, said to me that she always knew I would end up a dressage rider, because of the empathy and connection I had with horses…She said I would ride around not thinking, and then get in the test and the minute my mind switched on, my ponies would as well…He was my partner, whether it be chasing cattle, or riding dressage, he just loved to please me…
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That is dressage, and for a dressage rider, is there a better compliment?

 

Now or Never…What is your “What if?”

Today I had one of those useless conversations with someone, where they asked me a question and I didn’t give them the answer they wanted, so they kept asking the same thing in different ways.

They wanted to know “why” I want to compete, why I want to ride, why do I think that is a useful thing to do with my life…img_0711-2

I have found that once you find your own happiness you don’t feel the need to justify anything to anyone, and I just replied with “why” does that matter to you?

I know someone who is riding his bike around the world, and I thought “that sounds awful”, but I know that to him it isn’t awful, and I admire him for putting his effort into something that he desires.

People spend a lot of time thinking on time wasted, or where they should be, and what they want, and forget that life goes on and you can actually change things, or go after something new, whenever you want to.

This person wanted to know what I wanted to do with my life, like I had to make that decision and then go “ok well now I can just wait to grow old and die…good”.

Just because that is what I want now doesn’t mean that won’t change.

Mum said today that it’s “now or never” with Batialo, he will be at his peak soon, and If I want to compete internationally again I need to put pain aside, and just go for it. There will always be a reason why you can’t do something… So I will give it everything I’ve got and if that doesn’t work out I won’t sulk about it.

There are lots of other things I can do, and I can go after something else, I can take a break and try later on a different horse, or not, but you don’t need to decide right now what you want forever.

Everything changes, all the time.

Ten years ago I thought I would live in Australia forever, and work as a journalist at a newspaper, and ride horses for fun. One day I woke up and said, well this isn’t working, so lets change it.

I was always told “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, but a friend of mine recently reminded me of the opposite which is “If you aren’t happy, change”!

Sometimes that is not easy, because often we find comfort in what we know. It would have been much easier for me to stay in Australia, but I’m so glad that I am not a person who likes to do what is easy.

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Me and B- Man I love this horse 😉

I very nearly gave up on Batialo this year, but I know that I actually love the challenge. I love to really go after what I want, even if I know that I might be disappointed. They say in Portugal “Não se muda de cavalo no meio de banhado” (don’t change horse mid stream), and so I stuck with my horse, and he is going better than he ever has.

But now is the time!!

Will I go to England? Will I get back competing? Will I ever go to Australia? These are the questions only I can answer, and it will be for me, not to justify myself to anyone else.

This year was one of the best year’s I’ve had in Portugal, despite the fact that I was still recovering and not competing.mates
This is because I changed the most. I learnt to just let things go, and enjoy the moment, even if I knew that the moment wouldn’t last.

14694667_10208782979563648_1089201486_nI think that is the greatest thing about living overseas. Meeting new people who grew up on the other side of the world from you, but still share the same values, the same humour. I said it before, that meeting people from another culture, actually teaches you more about yourself, and I learnt that I am not always that strong, but my weaknesses are what make me, me.

I stopped worrying about where I wasn’t, and started appreciating where I was.

I will never be Portuguese. But I admire so much the people. And of course the horses ;).

Sometimes, when I wake up and my horse goes really well, and I have an amazing Portuguese seafood lunch and my friends make me laugh, I wonder if I really need to compete…

But I know myself, and I will wonder “what if”?

Sometimes, that is the better question to ask…Not WHY are you doing something, but in 5 years time what will be your “What if?”

Mine will be “what if” I had of given it one more go with Batialo, or even with Iota, would I have made it? Did I really give it everything? If I can answer yes then there is no “what if?” and I can walk away happy, but right now I can’t!

It’s true that you can always change, but there are some things in life that you have to go after, and I’d rather be a person who looks back and says “I gave it everything”, than a person who spends their life saying “what if?”.

Beijo...NAILED IT!!
Beijo…NAILED IT!!

 

Attitude is Everything…

Someone asked me why Batialo? What makes him so good? Well, It’s his attitude towards everything, he is just so happy…

This week has not been an easy one, but it has been amazing! Batialo decided that after three weeks it was time to test if I was in fact confident or just faking it, and he tried his best to check if I was paying attention at every killer piece of nothing that might jump out of nowhere.

It didn’t phase me at all, because my attitude has changed.

Me and B
Me and B

Do you ever have those days where you sit and listen to someone bitch and moan about nothing and everything, and have to hold yourself back from telling them that if they spent that time fixing the problem they are moaning about then they might not have a problem to moan about?

I often think about my aunty in these situations, when my mind has drifted off and I’m just nodding as they go on and on, about everything and nothing.

She has been battling cancer for over 20 years, and while she has every right to complain as much as she damn well likes she never does.

She found the sort of courage that no-one ever needs to find, and her attitude has always been to fight it, and enjoy life, as long as she can.

After I listened to this person winge for over an hour I said nothing. Huge restraint on my part because typically what I think comes out of my mouth before I have the chance to stop it…

Truth is, when I do shut up it’s usually for two reasons…either the truth is wasted on the person, or i’ll get the blame for being the bad guy.

I said before that self-awareness is the single biggest asset to a rider, but I’ve decided it’s the single biggest asset in life. If I told a self aware person that they were being pathetic they would accept it and try to change it. A self-aware person is also aware of what they can change, and even though it may be really  difficult, they accept what they cannot. I’m still working on the last one.

I was once told I am too independent. I thought that was not a bad thing at the time, but I realised later that the person was right, I was too independent and that made me put too much pressure on myself.

It’s actually a trait of riders to be too independent…

I didn’t accept help when I needed it, and I forgot that balance in life means that you actually need to have people you rely on…

BUT, this does not mean that you use them to complain about your life. In fact it’s the opposite, and I realised this year that the good people to be around are the ones that make you forget what you had to complain about in the first place.

My mum (yep again) used to say that “If you are going to do something you might as well enjoy it”.

I hate people who passive aggressively go along with something and then try to ruin it for everyone else by popping in little comments like “well, if we had of blah blah blah..” Well we didn’t so get over it!

I see that in schools now they are teaching gratitude. I find this interesting. I always thought gratitude was something inherent in your character, and in your attitude towards your life.

I think gratitude comes from experience, and from dealing with things that come up.

My attitude has changed because I am now more grateful just to be riding. I am grateful for my friends that support me. I’m grateful for the readers that follow my blog and write to me, it honestly makes my day better.

But actually the biggest thing that changed is my attitude towards myself. I spent 20 years blaming myself for something that actually had nothing to do with me, and I just decided to let it go and be happy. Being happy with who you are allows you to except that as people come and go from your life, it typically has nothing to do with you, and it’s probably not your fault.

They say actually that that is the most difficult relationship you will ever have, the relationship with yourself, and they are right. I love who I am, and I honestly never thought I would say that and mean it.

Horses, know everything. Batialo knows that I’m different, he will still test me, but he knows. I also know him, and I know and have been told, that he would do anything for me. I have been in a test and totally mucked up the movement and my trainer said you could see him trying to guess what you wanted.14550612_10208742510671951_85003351_o

Sometimes, it’s not what you are doing that needs to change, or the people you are with, or the things you have to deal with, but your attitude towards it, your attitude towards those people, and most of all, your attitude towards yourself.

 

 

Just Don’t Think About It…

When I was young I loved to dance…My dance teacher still writes to me and calls me “her tiny dancer” because I was often the smallest in the group.

I was usually put front and centre in the dance, not because I was the best, but because I was the most confident and I never forgot the steps…

I thought about why I never forgot the dance steps recently, and it was because I didn’t think about it. The dancers that would lose focus were the ones who thought about what came next instead of just doing it.

I find it interesting now to note that most of the people who are worried about what comes next in life usually mess up the step they are on now.14238211_10208515313592166_8316966165366789886_n

That, I have realised, is what I was doing with Batialo. I was thinking too much. I was worrying on the next day, and the last ride, and what he might do, instead of just thinking on how he was right now.

I would go to the horses and think he was so good yesterday that I would be too relaxed, or I would go thinking on something I had planned for tomorrow and he would know my head was elsewhere.

So I decided, just to stop thinking about it…

I also blocked out the “advice” that I would never be able to ride the horse, or that I wasn’t suited to him, because only if I believe that does it becomes true.

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I wrote to mum one day about the pain in my hip, and she said “is there anything you can do?”, and I said no, so she said “then stop thinking about it”.

It sounds so simple, but honestly it’s incredible how much shit you get rid of if you just stop thinking about shit.

How many relationships are ruined because people expect people to be like they were yesterday, or place unfair expectations on how they should be tomorrow?

How many good days go bad because we are worrying about what might happen tomorrow, or what we should have done today?

I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed in pain, and not slept all night worrying about how I might feel in the morning.

Then, one day I just decided, to not think about it.

Have you ever gone out to ride your horse and pictured yourself falling off, or worse pictured yourself hurt after falling off?IMG_5438

Well don’t, because guess what??… it doesn’t help.

Whatever we do in life there is always going to be an element of fear or failure or even injury.

My advice is, don’t think about it.

Be smart of course, but be smart in this moment, and not the next. Worry about yourself right now not yourself yesterday, or tomorrow.

It’s good to have a plan, but it has to allow for ups and downs. One of my favourite things about Portugal is if you go to lunch there is no end time. Lunch ends when it ends, and everyone at the lunch is right where they should be in that moment, not rushing off to the next thing.

People learn to appreciate just being there, and to not think about the rest of the stuff going on in their lives.

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Sponsored by Ramos Sport

It’s interesting, but not thinking takes work. You don’t just wake up one day and go “oh super I’m not thinking or worrying about anything”. You have to find things that help you be in the moment, or give you time to yourself.

Some people meditate, some paint, some play video games, or sport…(or golf) ;).

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Batialo taking a soneca (not siesta because he is Portuguese ;)…demonstrating not thinking about it…smart horse!!

But whatever it is that helps you not think…well, that is something worth holding on to.

 

 

The Tough Choice?…

I’m often told that Portugal is not the place if I really want to make it to the top. They say my horse has the potential, and I need to do it now, to make it now, to give it everything now. I am told I should be in Germany, or the UK, now.

Well, now is all we really have.10838204_10205365133159624_3159153856700323084_o-3

I could have stayed in Germany, I could move to England, I have lots of options, and yet I’m still here, and I’m still doing it the long way round.

Truth is, I love riding, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my happiness in order to win. I’m not actually willing to make that tough choice, to give it everything, because for me, there are other parts of life that I feel are important, for me.

For some reason, and for many reasons, Portugal is the place that I love to be. I feel at home here. I have lived in Germany, and it just wasn’t for me.10256695_10202600707970722_5691497753527609482_o

I am someone who needs a summer, and not a summer that lasts one weekend, but an actual summer, something that makes the winter easier to bare.

On the weekend I was sitting with my best friend, eating some of the most amazing seafood, by a beach that feels like home, and she said to me, “man your life is tough!” 🙂

If I gave riding everything I had, and moved to a bigger dressage nation, and I was successful at that, then what? I guess I give too much importance to my own happiness, but if I don’t then who will?

There are a lot of Portuguese sayings that I had never heard of, but there is one that I heard recently that I grew up hearing a lot…My mum would say “too much of anything is never good” although this never applied to ice-cream ;)…

I know people who spend their entire lives dedicating all of themselves to one thing, a job, a sport, a passion, a person, then wake up one day next to a wife they barely know, with children who have grown up without them noticing.

My father was only with me for 11 years, but he was present for those 11 years.

I know people who spend 50 years with a parent, who is present, but never really there.

I think it’s amazing, and I admire riders, who can put everything into the sport they love, and still find balance, and can still be truly happy,  but I can’t.

This doesn’t mean I don’t give it everything I’ve got, it just means that the everything I’ve got is shared between the things I find important, to me.

And of course for every person that says I should be venturing off in search of my horse riding career, there is another person who says “you really should be thinking about having kids soon”. So if you tried to please everyone you would end up pleasing no-one, and not being true to yourself either.

I have riders write to me and say they know they could be a better rider, but they have children. I say that there challenge is then to be the best rider they can be, while still being there for their kids.

My mum always said as long as you’re happy, I don’t mind what you do…

You might love your job, but be able to leave work and really leave the work life behind when you get home.

You might ride your horse everyday, and love that so much that it fulfils you completely.

You might not mind the cold, or being alone, and you might have the capacity to live anywhere, regardless of how you feel about the place.

My Happy Place- Beach in my (Home) town Cascais 🙂 🙂

I never thought I would end up living on the other side of the world, and I really never thought I would call it my home.

But I went in search of that balance that had so far been missing in my life, and I feel very lucky that I found it.

So if I never make it, I honestly don’t really care. I have this conversation at least once a month with different people, and my answer is always the same.

If I’m happy, I’m already winning.

 

Starting Again…Again…

Everyone has times when they need to start again. Horse riders typically face starting again even more often than most athletes, because of course the horse can get injured, just as easily as the rider can.

I started again, again, three weeks ago, and while it’s been up and down, this week I feel like I’m getting somewhere, finally.

Horse riders, I read today, are typically perfectionists, who put pressure on themselves, and are bad drivers, with messy cars. Well, I don’t know about the last two because my car is spotless 😉 but the first ones I can relate too. Whatever I decide to do, I always want to be the best at it, or at least the best I can be.

I get frustrated that I am not where I want to be, I want to be there now, I want to be stronger, better, not for anyone else, but for myself, and for my horse.14518754_10208669431685022_587276743_n

When I’m not able to ride how I want to ride, because of course that takes time and patience, I get frustrated. Frustration is great as long as you don’t take it out on the horse.

They say a poor workman blames his tools, well a bad horse rider blames the horse…

Last week the pet pig from the horse stable (yes pig) ran across the arena, and of course we did a nice leap sideways, but I stopped the spin. I told the pig that If I see him again he will be bacon…he squealed and ran off and I haven’t seen him since, so message received!!

Truth is it threw me a bit, and mum who is a big fan of the tough love approach, said if you want to complain about it, don’t do it, and if you do do it, don’t complain about it.

She’s right.

You have to learn sometimes to just suck it up, and decide what you want. No-one said it would be easy, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s worth it.14454643_10208669431805025_724193728_n

For me it is. The bad rides are far outweighed by the good. The relationship I have with my horse, beats the times that I am afraid he might hurt me. If there ever comes a time when the bad outweighs the good, I will have to question whether I need to start again, again again, in a different direction.

It helps to have people who know you, who knew you when horses were the thing you did because you just loved it. Susanne lived with my family when I was little, and we used to ride out together on my farm…She visited me this weekend, and having known me for 20 years, it was good to be reminded that I don’t need to put pressure on myself, because at the heart of it all, is just a girl who loves horses.14509332_10208669539567719_2113312489_n

I rode today, with the knowledge that it won’t always be easy. Starting again is like starting from scratch. Today though I did my first steps of good piaffe, and it feels like a victory. You have to learn to take each small step, as something to be happy about, so you can enjoy the journey, as much as the desire to get where you want to be.

Why I Love to Write!!…

One of the greatest things anyone ever said to me was that “I write as if I have lived 100 years”.

Riding, Teaching and Writing have come to be the three things that I love most in life, and each give me a different sense of escape, freedom, and purpose.

They say that the best stories are true ones, and my writing is from my life,from the people I know, the places I visit, the things that affect me.

People say that because I write with honesty they can better understand real life things, like suicide, or travel, or living alone in a foreign country, or fear in competition.

People also say my writing is brave, and if I’m honest with myself, I don’t feel brave in my writing.

I say that I have fear on the horse in my writing, but I don’t say that some days I am literally shaking, and my heart is racing, and despite the fact that I love riding more than anything, I sometimes wish it was over…when Batialo is foofing like he is about to explode, and I’m just praying I’ll get through the ride.

I wrote recently that I miss my dad and said that I didn’t know why.

I do know why…

I found out that he had sold the farm before he committed suicide and I always thought he in part did it to save the farm, to save the family.

Even after 20 years I still cling to that idea for comfort, like if there was a reason, then it makes it better.

But does it make it better?

The horrible truth about suicide is that you are left with unanswered questions, forever, and even if you understand it…you will always wonder…WHY?

Luckily, I know that we all have things we tell ourselves to make things seem more understandable…figuring out what those things are is the tricky part.

I was really upset yesterday because my mum said I’m riding more or less like shit (yes no sugar coating). I have had a year of ups and downs with injury and I’m just getting back going.

Then I asked myself what I value more, the truth, or a compliment to make me feel better…

The worst thing you can ever do to someone is tell them something you don’t believe, just to make them feel better. The people that stay in my life are the ones who are honest with me, and allow me to be honest in return.

I know that if mum said “you are a good rider” which is what I would love to hear, I would know she was not being honest, and then everything she said after that would mean less than it does to me now.

So I went out to ride today, and just got more determined to be that much better!

If you don’t have someone who tells you the truth when you are riding, get someone. You have to learn to give yourself the pep talk, and get the determination and advice from those you trust and admire.

In my writing I try to be as honest as I can, when I teach also. Writing helps me sort out the truth for myself..

The right people will always respect you for your honesty, and the wrong ones well, they will likely not get very far.

Everytime someone writes to me to say that my blog inspired them, or that they rang their mum and said thank you, or they were honest with themselves about something, I feel so very honoured.

I hope to write about many more adventures, with Batialo, international competition, life in Portugal, all from a point of truth, as I know it.

 

And a recent message from a reader, that I thought was just really great 🙂 🙂

Just read your ( home ) blog… Hey I’m old enough to be almost your grand mother but young enough in my mind to think I could drink you under the table.. But I want to tell you how much I look up to you! You have left family and friends and your country to follow your beautiful dream. And have become the person you are..

I have just left my marriage of 32 years and am just finding myself for the first time.. I now can do the things I want to- dream to- without being told no and being made to feel old and stupid for wanting.. But I feel so scared of making the wrong decision.. Something I was always “taught” that I was hopeless at.. I now live in a shipping container on a property lent to me until of course she gets tired of not having that piece of land to do her thing with. I have my stallion mate and Colt with me an no idea what to do with the rest of my life… My parents are still alive and awesome and my three adult kids are supportive but very busy with their wonderful lives… I so look up to your take the “bull by the horns” move to Portugal and your courage and strength throughout tough times! You are a hero to me and I just want to say thank you for sharing your life, writing in such a way that it inspires me but hopefully you too! Thanks mate!