THE BIG BUT?

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

All For One and One For All

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

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

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

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

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

However, we can’t do it alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metaphorical Tattoos… What Are You With Forever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Just released Core Training For Equestrians, CHECK IT OUT…

How do I feel…TODAY??!!!

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

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

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


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

 

CORE TRAINING: Series #1

To kickstart our June edition of Training for Equestrians, we have begun our focus on training the core, using compound exercises that require you to stabilise yourself, teaching you to maintain your equilibrium, and strengthen the muscles that work to keep you in balance. The first exercise involved a squat with low weights in each […]

Never say NEVER!!

I left Australia four years ago, to find mum a horse, and I stayed when I found mine! I share a secret with Batialo that no-one else knows, and when people ask how I think of the ideas for my articles, well he tells me ;).

20140617-164133-60093250.jpgI was told once that I was just a girl writing about her ponies, and perhaps I am, but aren’t we all?

I write not as an authority, but as someone on a journey, and people on a similar journey can therefore relate, because we all share the same challenges, the same highs and lows.

If anyone ever tells you that chasing something is easy, they lied.

If anyone tells you you can have it all, perhaps they just aimed low.

People can always give you their opinion, and show you why something won’t work, won’t happen, or isn’t realistic, and it’s usually these people who commend themselves on doing nothing, cause they do it so well!

In teaching yourself to never give up, you must also learn the art of acknowledging when you need help, and not seeing this as a failure, but as a bridge in helping you get to where you want to be.

If you can’t learn to adjust your dreams, or seek help with them, you will not succeed, because the world and the people, and the horses, and the everything, is always changing.

You never know what you will be tomorrow, so you just have to make the best of what you can do today.

People can spend forever trying to make sense of the world, and the people in it, but why do that when there is so much to love in all the things that don’t make sense!

Today I had a great conversation with a chain-smoking yoga instructor, and then found out one of the most wonderful people I have met overcame 99% negative stats to fulfil her life dream.

Don’t give up!

Faith

We can’t know how our horse will be tomorrow, or ask him how he is feeling today. We must have faith that he will tell us if something is wrong, and have faith in our ability to decipher his messages.

20140617-165058-60658419.jpgPeople are different to animals, and no matter how much faith you put in them they can let you down and you them.
However, the difficulty for some is not putting faith in others, but accepting the faith that others put in you.
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.
When you can accept and cherish the faith of others, you will learn that the reward is in trying to achieve, in believing in yourself, and remembering that we are all human, but that faith is what joins us and lifts us to a higher level.
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.

Most importantly, put faith in yourself that you can do it!

If you feel like people are putting too much faith in you, or that you cannot live up to their expectations, consider the alternative???
Being a person that noone ever puts any faith in!!!!

Instincts

Do you follow your instincts?

20140617-171301-61981537.jpgFollowing our instincts is actually much harder than it sounds, because unfortunately instincts don’t come with a set of clear cut instructions or navigation maps.

An instinct is a feeling we get, that we should do or not do something, that something is or is not right, that a person is or isn’t who we thought they were.

Sometimes we will meet someone and immediately feel that they are not to be trusted, or not to be followed, or that their beliefs are not in line with ours.

Quite often however, we dismiss our instincts in the hopes that we are wrong, or out of necessity, or stupidity, or we confuse our instincts for some other emotion or natural habit like hunger, or nervousness.

Learning to read our own instincts, and decipher when and to what extent we must follow them, is a tricky task, but one that if mastered, can help us a lot in our daily lives.

When people give that creepy feeling, more often than not they turn out to be creepy.

This isn’t to say that we should be judgemental, and I do believe that we should always give people a chance to prove they are good people.

I’m saying that if you suspect something isn’t right, be careful, or be brave enough to consider and confront the possibility that what you suspect might be true.

Don’t assume you are being silly, or dismiss instincts, or not trust your gut enough to take charge.

In dressage training, instinct is vital, and also requires that you know enough about your horse to apply your instincts when necessary.

Last week Batialo started sticking his head up in the air when I would go to the left.

Instinct, and trust and knowledge of my horse, said, he was not quite right somewhere.

I stopped him immediately and Julie Hartmann, my horse Oesteo, was called in.

He had a nasty knot on the right side of his neck, and his protest going left was of course because the bending left was making that right side knot rather angry.

If I didn’t trust my instinct, or know my horse, I could have easily pulled his head in and made him keep going, and perhaps it is because some horse people do this that their horses end up with other injuries.

When I started back to work on Batialo the following week, I went to go left and he stuck his head up in the air, but this time my instinct said, “Hmmmmm, maybe he just thinks he is still sore?”

Turns out, I was right, and while Batialo is very honest with me about his pains, he is also overdramatic about it when he is better, and likes to drag out the attention.

In two circles, he realised he was ok, and we went on to have a really great training session.

If you go out on a stormy day, and you look your horse in the eye, and think, hmmm maybe I better lunge him first?

LUNGE HIM FIRST! don’t be too scared to admit that we all need a little help sometimes.

If you do 20 minutes and instinct tells you that your horse is working super hard and you should give him a reward day, DO IT!

If instinct tells you that your horse wants a carrot, well that one is pretty low risk! 😉

Why Wait?

“Good things come to those who wait”

20140617-183811-67091143.jpgNOT TRUE!

This is just a line parents use on kids that won’t stop asking questions.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of random icecream deliveries, and no matter how long you wait you have to actually go to the store and pay for that piece of dairy goodness.

A few years ago, I spend most of the day waiting for the worst to happen.

That was a low point. Until one-day a very wise woman asked me if there really wasn’t something out there worth chasing.

The pursuit of happiness seemed like a start, and after that initial decision to be happy I soon invented new and far greater dreams.

I told mum that I would find a horse, and be the best in the world.

Today I realised just how far I’ve come, when yet again someone questioned my ability, and whether or not my dreams are realistic.

Regardless of whether I am on track to reach my goal, the fact that someone is questioning me, means at the very least that I’m being noticed.

Told again that my horse is too good for me, I was asked that perhaps it would be better if I were the owner of an Olympic horse, and I could make lots of money…

I said, what is money without a dream?

Even if I never make it, the pursuit of our dreams, is what it’s really all about, and considering I’ve been the only rider of my horse since he was four I must have done something right.

In life there are people who doubt us, but what this person didn’t realise is that every time sometimes tells me I can’t, I get that bit more determined to prove them wrong!

I was once told that my articles were pretty much a girl talking about her ponies, and when I had four people write to me yesterday to tell me how much they appreciate reading my work, I wondered what made them relate to what I say.

I am not in any stretch of the imagination the rider that say Carl Hester is, nor am I as inspirational as Nelson Mandela, or as poetic as  EE Cummings, but one thing I am is honest.

People relate and understand my articles, because I tell it like it is, and I admit that I screw myself up into a ball in the shoulder-in, and I bounce about and stick my tongue out in the sitting trot but, like them, I am willing to search for a new and better way to understand my horse, and for him to understand me!

Doubt is what ruins people. Don’t let others put doubt in your head.

If you doubt that you are good enough, you will never be. If you doubt that you can be there for someone else, you won’t be. Just decide what you want, what you will be, and be it.

Whether you want to be the best rider in the world, or the best rider in your one-horse stable, pick a goal and stick to it.

Even if you have a trainer, video yourself, and watch it, and ask yourself if you can do better.

If you see something that your trainer isn’t telling you, don’t just assume he must know better, ask him WHY he isn’t picking up on it.

Perhaps it is for your benefit, but perhaps it is because he thought you didn’t know enough, or cared enough, to fix it!

If you don’t have a dream yourself, make it your goal to help the dreams of others, and then take pride in the fact that you were part of something bigger than yourself.

So, here is the deepest secret nobody knows, here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud……

Don’t wait for someone to tell you what you can be, don’t doubt the thing that you want the most, pursue your own happiness above all else, because you can’t make anyone else happy, until you can be happy within yourself! :):)

Don’t wait for the icecream truck, go and get the icecream yourself 😉

PYRO FREE Sporty Dressage Lusitano born 2007

HANNOVERIAN MARE 6 Y.O. TALENT FOR JUMPING AND DRESSAGE

Who am I?

Everyone seems to be searching to find out who they are, as if it’s some sort of challenge.

20140617-183811-67091560.jpgThe truth is, we never know who anyone is, because we ourselves change constantly.

If you have never surprised, doubted, wondered, scared, or offended yourself, then you don’t go outside enough.

No wonder other people shock us, when we more often than not shock ourselves.

The person you were yesterday, will not be the person you are tomorrow, and the people you met in the past, cannot determine who you’ll be in the future.

If someone puts you down, or criticises you, they will not exist to you in a later moment, so why let them affect the person you choose to be?

If we spend too much time trying to figure out who we are, we might miss the moments that make us, and perhaps miss the chance to become something or someone greater.

Instead of asking who we are, just decide who you want to be, and be it.

Decide who you want to be around, and be around those people.

Decide what mood you will be in, and put yourself in that mood.

Sounds simple, but turning a negative thought into a positive one is extremely difficult, and I envy those people who have mastered the ability to select the good thoughts, and throw out the bad.

When we choose what food to eat, or what clothes to wear, we typically, if given the choice, throw out the bad or rotten or worn out.

So why then do we allow the bad thoughts to remain in our heads.

I used to wonder when I was little if being a bad person was a choice, or if some people were just popped out of the womb as “ready made criminals”.

Most likely all of us have elements of good and bad inherent in our genetics, and it’s circumstance that allow them to take over.

However, the most crucial element is choice, and while a lot of our lives our out of our control, the decision of how those events define us, is up to us.

We cannot regret what we did, how we acted, because each lesson we learn is one we carry with us forever, putting one more piece into the puzzle of “who we are”.

With horses, I am always surprised when people take their partner for granted, or expect them to behave in a particular way, because just like people, horses are unpredictable.

You can learn all about them, and love them, and even trust them completely, but they will, and always will be, free to do as their own mind decides, and the minute they lose their own personality, the fun of training is gone.

This song I like because it made me think….

Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older.

Do we ever become wise? Or do we just continue to add up our moments of trials and error.

Life is a game of thought, the older we get, the more accustomed we become to the thoughts we have….

20140617-183811-67091821.jpgCan we predict our thoughts? No

But can we change them for the better? ALWAYS !!

Layers – Onion/Tomato…

With some people, the onion metaphor rings true, and you feel like the more you know them, the more layers you discover.

Others, are more like tomatoes, and if you peel back the skin you just end up with a big red sploggy mess that’s hard to manage.

20140617-183811-67091760.jpgThe onion people are the ones that teach us more about ourselves, because as we peel back their layers, so too do we reveal our own secrets.

Sometimes it takes an onion with courage, to tell another onion that it is ok to reveal a layer hidden, or perhaps two onions when put together find the confidence to reveal themselves to one another.

The tomatoes wish they were onions, and try to disguise themselves as such by adding fake layers, typically through chemical enhancement or deception.

On the other hand, some onions try to disguise themselves as tomatoes, and pretend to be less than they are.

This is usually because a tomato who very much wished they were an onion, put the onion down, and made them feel like they were nothing more than a tomato.

If you know an onion  that has happened to, remind them of what makes them special, that they are unique, that they have layers, and that the fascinating part about our world is that by discovering the layers of other people we discover who we are.

Horses too have layers, and while a horse may seem like a simple being, eat, sleep, poop etc, they in fact take in a lot more than most non horsey people would give them credit for.

As rider it’s our job to peel back the layers of our horses, and learn about them, so that we can help them to understand what we are asking.

Only when we understand the layers of our horse, can we unlock the key to his training success.

Many people now term me the Lusitano girl, because of course I ride two Lusitanos.

20140617-183811-67091891.jpgIn actual fact, I grew up riding warmbloods, and my favorite horse in history was a 14 hand high warmblood pony cross named Zen, who loved me just as much as I loved him.

Ask any of the top riders, judges, spectators, trainers, and they will tell you the same golden truth…

“A top horse, is a top horse, regardless of his breed.”

20140617-183811-67091821.jpgIt may be the son of a stock horse, crossed with an arab, but if it can move, and has the mind to try, then a good rider will peel back the layers, and produce something magical.

 

Technology….What is it to you?

Sometimes I wonder if technology really makes things faster, particularly when trying to figure out how to turn on the plasma tv, or getting mad at the microwave that won’t stop beeping at me….The food is ready, I’ve got the message..thanks!

20140617-183811-67091950.jpgTechnology for sure has made certain things easier, and I’m really not sure that I could be so far from home if I couldn’t “Skype ” my mum every night, and every morning.

She tells me of a time when you had to send letters by ship, and it could take up to 6 weeks to get your message across the Atlantic.

In that respect, technology has made my desire to ride horses overseas, far more accessible, and a lot less lonely.

Certified “Web Trainer” my mum is able to watch YouTube clips of me the same day I took the video, and I can reflect immediately on my training floors before facing the day ahead.

Technology has been the most help in the world of medicine, and after reading an article about a woman whose bionic arm can actually sense and feel what she is touching, I felt in awe of what research in these areas can produce.

The people who complain the most about technology, are usually the first to check the weather forecast, and while I do think that it makes kids anti-social, it also connects them in other less face to face, but perhaps far more communicative, ways.

We wonder now how we lived without Facebook, and admit it has gone a long way to abolish the token catch up conversation at parties, as now, the minute you arrive, you already know exactly where everyone is at, and what they are doing.

The older generation say they could live without technology, and then the power goes out, and I get a phone call from a pretty distressed relative who hasn’t been able to have her morning cup of tea!

So what is technology to you? Is it the latest game your addicted to? Is it your means of communicating with a long away home? Is it the annoying beep on the microwave oven, or the pale square-headed child you are raising who only talks in cyber speak?

What would your day be without it? Would you have more friends, or less friends, and would the depth of this friendship be deeper?

As a journalist, I certainly am not going to be a hero, and say I could live without it. If my email is down for half an hour i’m banging my head against the wall.

Watching Downton Abby, and I am reminded of the world those “old people” used to live in, when technology was still “those waves wafting about”, that Maggie Smith was so deathly scared of, ;).

I wonder, could we live in that world today?

20140617-171301-61981537.jpgIn the horse world technology has made little difference. It’s not like in swimming, where a split second touch monitor can determine the gold and silver medal, and no matter how many state of the art gadgets are created, our sport remains in the eye of the beholder.

UNTIL recently, when a panel was created to supervise the judging system, able to instantly replay a movement to check that the judge had in fact seen that the horse was late in the change, or stepped back in the halt.

Is this a good thing? Does it make judges more honest, or less likely to go with their gut and be the bold outlier?