What Does it Take?

To be an elite athlete comes down to one major thing…your mental ability to cope with pressure, failure, defeat, pain.
Sure it helps to be physically gifted, but plenty of people have the body for sport, although may lack the intelligence and perseverance required.
Bottom line is you will always be knocked down. There will always be times when you are told you cannot make it, because of whatever reason, and the only way this becomes true is when you yourself believe it.
I was watching a documentary recently on the legends of Motor Racing, and their ability to overcome life threatening injury and constant defeat is beyond what you would consider humanly possible, and yet they do it, time and time again.
I wrote a blog last year that talked about how I overcame the darkest years of my life. I always believed it was my dream that got me to where I am now, a person who is truly happy with herself and her life. I learnt recently however that it wasn’t the dream, it was me. I decided to do everything to recreate who I was, and if that meant moving across the world and starting again then that was what I would do.

After being told recently that I will never make it back into international competition my inbox was filled with other riders, or readers, who had been told the same, but decided that no was not an option.

A fellow sportsman and friend told me recently that top athletes always face pain, injury, and failure, but that they overcome it by eliminating all the elements that may prevent them from being the best they can be.
They remove all the unreliable, or unpredictable parts of their sporting lives, in order to give themselves the best chance, and then they work harder than all the others.
So that’s where I’m at. Eliminating everything that might stop me, and trying everything that might help. It means commitment, and it means sacrifice, but if we don’t sacrifice for what we want, what we want will be the sacrifice.

We watch a top sportsperson win a race, or a match, and we often overlook the pain, the struggle, the years of bruised body and mind, that it took to get there.

It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. As horse riders we learn early on that what we do is dangerous, but we are so passionate about what we do that the danger is outweighed by our sense of belonging, of purpose.
I have always said that it doesn’t matter if your dream is to be the best you can be in your own arena, or the best in the world, just decide what you want, and then make it happen!

Searching for Perfection…Feeling Like a Failure

Recently I have been really down on myself. I think at some point everyone feels like they could have been more, done more. I hate regret but quite often we tell ourselves that if we had of done this, or been this, then we could have been where we want to be.

I have had pain for as long as I can remember. I am still not used to it. I still expect that I will wake up one day and it will be gone and I think the disapointment is as much of a  pain as the pain itself.

I have been told that If I stop riding I won’t have pain, but what life would I live? Horse riding is for me more natural than walking. I honestly can’t imagine what it feels like for someone who has never ridden, to sit on a horse for the first time. For me it’s like breathing.

It’s important during these times to remember how far you have come. When I came to Portugal I was in a really low place, and I used to be one of those people that worried about what people thought of her. I didn’t like dressing up or going out, I didn’t want to really be seen. Having a dream can quite often give you something greater to strive for, and in spite of whatever failure you face this is what you get out of going after what you want.

I used to be weak, physically and mentally, and somehow, I managed to change into someone strong, someone who others believe in, because I believe in myself.

Yesterday someone said that I am the only person she knows who has no feeling for anyone or anything, and nothing could be further from the truth. I guess that means that my strength often allows me to hide my true feelings, and I am not sure that is a good thing.

The truth is, despite being strong, I still feel failure. Everybody does. And over the last few weeks I have questioned again whether or not I can physically cope with my horse and his personality.

As I await some rather important MRI results, I have to remind myself how far I’ve come. Horse riders are quite often perfectionists, and if we don’t get it right, when we wanted to get it right, we feel somehow like we have failed.

Don’t wait for someone else’s approval or praise…Horse riders also learn very very early to dust themselves off and get back on that horse, which is a piece of advice to follow both physically and metaphorically speaking ;).

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Fear…

When I was young I was fearless. I would gallop across paddocks, over fences, through thick bush land, without the slightest thought that I might get hurt.
When Dad died I feared that Mum would die too. When I broke my hips I feared it would happen again. I have learnt that in life, both physical or emotional pain, often leads to fear.

But is fear a bad thing?

I have come to realise it is not! When I first came to Portugal I would get on any horse, regardless of its “training” or lack there of, and I would not worry about what happened. This was not a good thing because I didn’t care what happened to me. As I grew into a woman who loves her life, who is grateful for everything she has, fear came with it. A mother will tell you that when she gets back on a horse after having a child, she is different. Not just because her body has changed but because she has one very real reason why she cannot afford to get hurt.
Fear reminds us that we need to be smart, that we need to take care of ourselves. We owe it to the people who love us.
No, fear is not a useless emotion.

For me, the two most useless emotions are regret and self pity. I find nothing more unattractive in a person than someone who pities themselves, and asks for others to feel sorry for them.

Everyone has stuff they need to deal with. There is a huge difference between asking for help, and asking for pity.
On the other hand someone who admits to being afraid is someone that I admire. It’s common in life to fear the things that may actually bring us the most happiness…career change, love, getting back on that horse :).
In fact, the first step in overcoming fear is admitting it.
Don’t look back and wish you had have done something. Regret is useless. Face your fears is a cliche but it is a well known line for a reason. If you are scared ask for help, admit you’re scared, but don’t make up some BS story about why you can’t do something. Be honest, with yourself and with everyone else. You may just find out that others have the exact same fears as you do, and by sharing it you can lesson the load :).

What Do You Really Want?…

 

When I was young, I wanted desperately to have a normal life.

My dad had committed suicide, and I wanted to be like all the other kids in school, who had no idea how fragile and terribly sad life could be. A week out from the 19th anniversary of his death I think about what I really want from life.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

What Sir Roosevelt says is true, and I no longer regret anything that happened to me because it’s part of who I am.

What makes a person strong? What makes a person inspiring? The strongest person I know in the world, is my mum. Not just because of who she is but because of who she enabled me to be.

She would tell me that I could do anything I put my mind too, and I grew up believing that.

I am told very often that I am lucky…Lucky to live overseas, lucky to have found such a talented horse, lucky to have a mum who shares my dream with me.

Luck has nothing to do with it.

One of my memories growing up was watching Australian swimmer Kieren Perkins win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

I’m not particularly interested in swimming, but he entered the final after a pathetic qualifying heat, and the nation had deemed him a “has been” who could not possibly, and statistically, win gold from lane 8 (the slowest lane).

I remember the moment when he won. A true champion. No-one said “wow he was lucky”.

He wanted it more than the others.

Truth is I was never a really talented dressage rider. I just wanted to chase the cattle and go really fast out of control behind whatever ran out in front of me.

But I was fearless. I now have fear, because I know better. Falling off hurts.

People who saw me riding Batialo when I first started with him as a 4 year old would tell you that they thought I was crazy. I was. But I wanted a top horse, I wanted to compete internationally, and the desire for what I wanted was far greater than the fear that I might get hurt.

People don’t have dreams or goals necessarily to win. Most of the time it’s to test themselves, to prove to themselves that they can go after something, to give them a reason to wake up in the morning, and to sleep well at night.

The people that I admire the least in the world, are those that tell other people their dreams are stupid. What gives someone the right to make that sort of judgement. I’m sure Mr Perkins didn’t listen when people told him he was too old to win another gold medal.

We always hear the phrase “never give up”, and think “oh sure, yep nice line”. It’s true though. Sometimes of course you need to adjust your dream, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

I don’t even understand the term “normal life” anymore, and I certainly don’t wish for it.

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Just when you think you have learnt what you need to learn, something new comes along to change the entire way you looked at it.

If I think of myself ten years ago I honestly never imagined I would be this happy. There was a point when I had no reason to get up in the morning, but I got up because I couldn’t do to mum what dad did to us. That was my thought, “keep going for my mum”. Now I hate to wake up late because I might miss something, and I truly love every part of me.

I guess I wish my dad knew that hitting rock bottom is just the starting point on the way to something wonderful 😉

haltI started pilates recently and if you knew me a year ago you would say it was impossible for me to do pilates.

In the first session I quite literally got a headache, because the instructor kept telling me to breathe slowly, and my mind was racing at 100 miles an hour (my usual pace) and I wanted to complete the series in under 30 seconds and get out of there. It’s like those meditation tapes that tell you to clear your mind, and next minute you are mapping out your ten month plan with Zen music playing faintly in the background.

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Now I love pilates. It’s relaxing. And my mind is actually much calmer and slower in everything else that I do, which helps a lot in my riding, because my horse isn’t picking up on my “a million thoughts an hour” brain speed.

If you don’t have a dream you don’t need to go out and run a marathon. But if you do have something you want to do it’s not worth looking back and saying I wish I had tried. It might be that trip you wanted to go on, or the job you wanted to pursue, or the person you wanted to tell that thing you have always thought but never said…

Just do it.

Yes, now your mind is sprouting all the millions of reasons why you can’t do it…

I still say… “just do it!”

Finally if you do do it, just enjoy it. I was at a dinner recently and the woman next to me didn’t want to eat her petit gateau so I ate hers as well.

petitShe turned to me and said “aren’t you worried about having a stomach ache in the morning”, and I replied that if I get hit by a bus on the way home I will regret far more not enjoying the second petit gateau.

 

“There will be more petit gateau’s” was what she was thinking…but reality is there just might not be.

It’s fine not to do anything with your life if that’s what you want, but if you decide to do something, just make sure you use everything you’ve got to do it.

 

 

Somatic Health- Retrain your brain to move out of tension & pain®

 

As horse riders, we are very familiar with the concept of chronic tension and pain. We typically ride rain, hail or shine, and know that often when we say hell YES our bodies will say hell NO!

Over time, these physical limitations can lead to our world getting smaller, increasing stress, repeating tension patterns in the muscles that can cause chronic pain, creating imbalance, and limiting the subtle awareness and control we need in order to communicate effectively with our horses.

In the past year I have connected with Ryan Moschell, who is a Certified Hanna Somatic Educator and a leader in the field of Somatic Education. He teaches a specialized conscious way of moving that can connect you directly with the source of the chronic tension, your brain, and, over time, help you to develop a self-initiated and self-regulated form of neuromuscular re-education.

“You will learn a deeper awareness and somatic skill-set so that you can address the effects of stress, trauma, pain, and sameness that can come from Sensory-Motor Amnesia, SMA (AKA – chronic muscular contractions).” says Ryan.

Sensory Motor Amnesia, SMA, is affectively what is at the root of chronic neuromuscular pain. It is defined as a “habituated state of forgetfulness of how certain muscles feel and how to effectively coordinate them; it cannot be ‘cured’ by treatment, medicine, or surgery but it can be controlled consciously after a relearning process.” Novato Inst., 2006

SMA can lead to the common physical complaints that we usually mistake for the natural aging process. With Ryan’s help riders can learn to alleviate, prevent, and even reverse the effects of SMA with this empowering adaptability skill that you can access anywhere, anytime for the rest of your life.

Ryan has had huge success in the Equestrian world working with many riders, including Felicitas Von-Neumann Cosel, international grand prix dressage rider and trainer. He has recently published an article in the January 2016 edition of “Dressage Today”. Click on the image or text below to read the full article and watch a few videos to show you the possibilities awaiting you in and out of the saddle with Somatics.

The Training Between Your Training

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Feedback from his clients has also been incredible…

“Thank you Ryan Moschell! Truly amazing, after one session my chronic (30 years) of back pain was reduced to almost nothing. Everything has been easier, walking, standing, sitting, better balance, easier breathing. I felt great on my horse. I cannot wait to see how much better this can be with a few more lessons! I recommend this to anyone with pain or tension or the desire for more body awareness!” Felicitas Von Neumann-Cossel – Equestrian

“After my workshop and individual session with Ryan everything is easier such as walking, breathing, sleeping, you name it. Even my 3x/week boot camp interval training is more fun. I am much more aware of things that my body does when sitting. I tend to bring my legs together and now I know that I am “training” my tight hips :), mostly I sit with my legs slightly apart now ; I hold the steering wheel with less “death grip” My first ride after the sessions: Due to confidence problems over the last few years, I had too much of a thigh grip in the saddle. This time I did not and my horse went into the canter so much smoother and I was able to follow the motion much more fluently. Also, in riding the image is conveyed, “let your legs hang down like a wet towel draped over your arm”. Well, I think I felt this for the first time. My instructor told me after the first canter depart to do that again so that your horse will know you have changed an this is the “new you!” I will say that the comment in your video about looking forward to this verses dreading other modalities: yoga, PT, makes a lot of sense now and I have to concur.” Evi Ebert – Equestrian

“I retired 4 years ago ready to enjoy life only to have debilitating news that I had inoperable spinal stenosis and curvature of the spinal column from living an active life full of accidents. Added onto that I had hip deterioration, ligament and tendon damage from a previous horse accident. I tried injections for pain, four years of physical therapy, pain medication, and finally burning the nerves to reduce pain. I was given special shoes and a cane. I walked better with the cane. But who wants to look old and fragile. When I met Ryan Moschell I was walking with a cane and wobbling when I walked. After only five sessions I am cane free! I no longer crawl up the steps and my wobbling is almost gone. I dance four times a week, swim, do yoga, barn work and show my horses. We even ended up this years show season champions at Maryland Saddle Association, Delaware Appoloosa shows and several other show series on the shore. Ryan Moschell and Somatics was the answer for me!” Mary Anne – Equestrian

“My hip has become more stable. My gait is more balanced and my posture has improved. I sleep better, and it’s easier to turn over in bed. The stiffness in my neck and shoulder has decreased. …the lower back pain I used to get when doing kettle bell swings is gone. Because my hips are looser I can squat deeper and easier. “ Chuck W. – IT

Ryan Moschell travels worldwide to teach workshops that include a combination of group movement classes and one-on-one clinical sessions with each attendee during his stay. You can contact him with the information I have added below. I, for one, am looking forward to having Ryan come to teach near me (Europe or Australia) so I myself can attend one of his workshops. As a rider who suffers from chronic pain I know that anything that may offer a solution is worth a go. I hope that this information will help all of you both in and out of the saddle.

Contact Ryan Moschell today and organize a Somatic Health Solutions® workshop for a group of equestrians near you.

Traveling Workshop Information

http://www.somatichealthsolutions.com/home/begin-2/workshops/

E-mail – Ryan@SomaticHealthSolutions.com

Web – http://www.SomaticHealthSolutions.com

Phone – USA – (410) 703-6956

International – 001(410) 703-6956

Offices in the United States: Maryland: – Annapolis – Easton – Woodbine District of Columbia: – Washington

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/RyanMoschell *

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Please forward this blog with the buttons below to riders and friends in need, I have a feeling they will thank you!*

Horses Recognise Your Emotions…

I read an article recently that says according to research horses are able to discriminate between happy and angry human facial expressions.

People won’t really believe me unless they know horses, but it’s incredible how much our horses pick up on.

They know when we are stressed. They know when we are sore. They know when we are down.

A mate of mine said to me recently that her horse was tense at a competition, and I asked her if this competition was a big deal.

She replied that it was by far the biggest competition she had ridden at, and I told her that I was not at all surprised her horse was tense.

They know. Even before we know, they know.

I honestly believed that I was calm at my first international competition, and I got into the arena and Batialo became like an electric fire stick, and when I came out of the test, and the stomach notes untied themselves, I realised I had been nervous from about three weeks before.

Last year I went through my biggest break up to date, and Batialo was miserable. He didn’t eat as much. He sulked at the back of the box. Only if you knew my horse, would you know just how unlike himself he was during that time.

When I took time off for injury, he was angry at me. He would not look at me, or come to me, and I was amazed after just my first ride back how much he went back to his old funny self.

Horses are herd animals, they know when other animals in the heard are sick, and they feel empathy for them.

Next time your horse isn’t eating, or is jumping out of his skin. Ask yourself how you are feeling, or what is going on in your own life. Your horse is your greatest reflection, and sometimes he is telling you, to just cheer up!!

Full article online at Eurodressage…._20150423_125844
http://www.eurodressage.com/equestrian/2014/07/10/sarah-warne-what-our-horses-pick

 

To advertise a product or service over my website write to me at warneyswhip@gmail.com

 

Training The Dressage Eye

When I was little Mum would sit for hours watching videos of Nuno Oliveira, or Reiner Klimke or Kyra Kyrkland, and while at that time I found them deathly boring, I was already being programmed to know what was right.
I grew up learning to compete on a pony that had the most correct basic rhythm and balance, and I was lucky to be able to feel that from a very early age.
I would watch my mum and my sister ride, who both had lessons with Nuno, and even though I didn’t really think I was taking notice, I was developing a sense of what was correct training. In fact I was never exposed to bad riding, or hand holding, or spurring, or rolkur, and it wasn’t until much later on that I was even aware that there was another side of dressage.
I had a comment recently on one of my posts that the person had become so used to seeing praise for something that he had begun to see it as correct.
When I see a flashy trot, I don’t go WOW, I look immediately to the horses ears, to his eye, to his mouth, then to the rider’s hand, the contact, the hindleg, the back. I look at all these different elements (elements that are the basis of the FEI rules and objectives) and tick them off one by one in my mind. The WOW will only come if all elements are given a tick.

I am the first one to admit that I have moments where I don’t get the ticks, I am holding, or I’m tight, and Batialo is tense, and I just can’t get everything to come together. The big difference is, I don’t post this with a comment saying “WOW” so that everybody thinks “WOW”, because then people see this to be right, and lose awareness , so the tick approval system gets lost in a sea of praise.
Condemning riders isn’t right either. It’s very very difficult to get relaxation and lightness, and correctness in training, add a big screen tv and an audience and lots of other hoopla and it’s a cocktail of added difficulties.

But until we see what’s correct, over and over, until we congratulate that and reward that publicly, then we ourselves begin to forget what’s right, and we automatically put a WOW on a photo that isn’t wow, it’s just flash.

It’s not our fault, we see it over and over, we see it praised and rewarded.
True change comes from knowledge, and knowledge comes from asking questions, and to ask the questions you need to have an eye that sees past the initial WOW, and checks off all the elements of our very complex yet fascinating sport that make a combination deserve a WOW for their pursuit of correctness based on the FEI objectives and a happy horse!

To support my articles order a classical riding polo as pictured below by email to crptruerider@yahoo.com.

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To advertise a product or service over my website write to me at warneyswhip@gmail.com

ReinerKyra

Letting Go…

Letting go has been a theme in many of my articles.

http://www.eurodressage.com/equestrian/2012/09/23/classical-training-art-letting-go
In fact it has become a theme in my riding and outside life. One of my greatest weaknesses as a rider, and as a person, was that I couldn’t let go of things. Things that I knew weren’t good for me, or that I couldn’t change.
I have chronic pain, and I have discovered that the only way to ease the pain, is to forgive myself, to be kind to myself, and to forget about yesterday, and tomorrow.
On the horse, there are so many elements we must let go. I have never been a patient person, but this injury has taught me many things, most importantly, about strengths that I didn’t even know I had.

Letting go of the thought “I should already be doing this”, Or “my horse should already be here”, or my position should already be better than this”. Thoughts that don’t help us.

Letting go of people for me is even more difficult. Mainly because I used to be a people pleaser and I worried what people thought of me. I don’t anymore.
A second theme in my articles is on humility and accepting and asking for advice when you need it. I have been accused of doing what people tell me to do, but the truth is I only ever ask advice from the people that I know will tell me what I already know to be true. It sounds strange, but if you have people in your life that you love and trust enough, then what they tell you is typically a reflection of what your own mind has already told you 1000 times.
Bottom line is it’s easy to take advice when you know what advice is coming. Much harder to follow that advice even when you know it to be true.

In dressage, you must trust your trainer, so that the advice they give you, is the advice you believe in.

There are always those “dressage critiques” who will give you advice without you asking, or even hinting at asking, but I just nod, and say thank you. Arguing with those people is fruitless, and you mind as well “save your breathe” as mum used to say.

In dressage, letting go is everything. Letting go of what you can’t control, and learning to reward and cherish the things that you can.

I realised recently, that I am happy with every part of myself. It took me 30 years to get here. But it really is a bloody nice feeling to have. I don’t envy anyone else.
I can’t imagine a better life, and yet I’ll never stop dreaming about what more I could be….

To support my articles order a classical riding polo by email to crptruerider@yahoo.com.

To advertise a product or service over my website write to me at warneyswhip@gmail.com

Posture and Horse Riding…

 

I was reading an interesting blog recently by the “Core Trainer”  79that talked about posture and how often people come into the gym complaining about the way they look in the mirror, their stance.

On a horse, it’s ten times more difficult, because even if you correct yourself when you are walking, on the horse you have 1000 things to think about, and the first thing you forget, or that naturally goes out the window, is your posture.

The photo above was taken 4 years ago. It is a beautiful photo, but I hate looking at it, because my neck is almost stuck so far forward it’s coming off my body.

I had a terribly weak posture, due to a longterm illness, and I knew that i would never look good on the horse until I began to correct it off the horse. I worked with the Core Trainer, and began exercises to teach my body to move back into a stronger position.

I think the biggest mistake people make when thinking about posture, is that they want a quick fix. Truth is it takes work, patience, and a lot of mental effort, to correct something that has happened, usually over a long period of time.

4 years later, and I was proud to see this photo this year…

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My position is by no means perfect, but I have worked hard to correct my forward neck, and finally it is natural for me to be in the right neck position, and I know because in competition, when I cannot think about my head, it was finally in the right place! YAH

To find out about exercises for posture go to the below web address or email the core trainer at contact@thecoretrainer.com

http://thecoretrainer.com/forequestrians/

That one horse that changes you

3 months ago, when the pain in my hip got too much for me, after a tendon injury, I made the decision to stop riding for a while. For me this is like giving up breathing, and I spent the last three months feeling like, well shit.

I stayed in Portugal for Christmas, and spent the day alone, but it was my decision, because I knew that the trip, (24 hours on a plane), could add months to the recovery.

I watched Batialo during this time, and no-one will believe how different he was. He usually looks at me like I’m a giant carrot angel, excited, and childlike.

The last three months he looks at me for a second, and then looks away, like “yes I know you are here, but you are not wearing riding pants, so bugger off”.

He didn’t eat all of his feed during the day, and when I walked him he stopped paying attention to where I was, and would sort of just walk off like I wasn’t there.

Two very talented male riders have been helping me, and as I watched him with them, I thought “oh man, if he does that with me I’m screwed”.

He leapt and spun, and cantered whenever they wanted trot, and I felt very very worried, and I admit it, scared to start again.

I have ups and downs with my confidence depending on how bad the pain is (chronic injury) and right now I’m at an all time low.

Truth is, if you suffer from chronic pain, or you have a boisterous horse, or you are human, you can lose your confidence, and you have to work hard to get it back. It’s a constant battle, and you have to be determined, and 100% sure that you want to do this, to keep going.

Today I got on Batialo for the first time in 3 months. I’m still in pain, and he couldn’t be lunged and I was bloody nervous, and trying to convince myself I wasn’t. He went into the indoor, which sounded like a space ship about to take off, and trotted off and was quite simply, amazing for me.

A horse reared at the side, and he did jump, which does still hurt, and I just trotted off and he said “oh ok, off we go”.

Some people say that the horse chooses you, and I know I’m going to sound like a soap opera drama queen, but sometimes I truly believe it.

Mum said to me, “he will be good to you, he likes you riding him”, and I know it to be true.

Thank god for horses. They make us better people. They make us understand ourselves. And if you find the right one, they change your life.

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Warney’s Christmas Rant… Can’t have your cake and eat it too

This year has been one of extreme highs, and very low lows…in other words dressage 😉 I finally made it into international competition after 6 years living along in Portugal (aka other side of the world), and then got a tendon injury from my spinning superstar and have had to take a rather lengthy time off.

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This year has been one of extreme highs, and very low lows…in other words dressage 🙂 I finally made it into international competition after 6 years living alone in Portugal (aka other side of the world), and then got a tendon injury from my spinning superstar and have had to take a rather lengthy time off.

Recently I have begun using myself as the example to help explain what is right and wrong, something I will continue to employ in my writing because it is a way to help people understand, but more than this it is a way to solve the common retort “well you are just jealous, or you are just saying that because you have never been out there doing it”.
The lesson that I will take away from this year is that riding is purely and simply a discipline of the mind. Riders need a thick skin not because they might fall on their bum, but because of all the mental aspects of our sport, from pressure, to fear, to humility; from injured horses, to injured riders, to unfair comments, and unjust praise. I wrote an article for Eurodressage, you can read it here, and this was even before I had really started in International competition..Art Vs War.
When my dream of competing internationally finally came true I arrived home after my first competition and skyped my web trainer mum, saying “you really wouldn’t do this unless you loved it!” It’s not easy, and riding a horse in that atmosphere, well I respect all riders for just being out there doing it.
However, as a rider I do get very confused. I have had a few people contact me lately saying that at judges clinics they are told that a horse with an exaggerated foreleg which did not match the hind leg and which had a modest over track in extended trot deserved a 7. But if you read the FEI rules they state that  “The movement of the fore and hind legs should reach equally forward in the moment of extension.”
The saying “can’t have your cake and eat it too” comes to mind. Hopefully I did a better job with this quote that “guts for gardens” although I did get a good laugh when people pointed out it was “guts for garters” because I had always pictured my grandma chopping me up into pieces and using me as fertiliser to grow vegetables in the back yard ;).

Truth is, in this sport, you have to stick to your principles. Problem is when all the principles become a big haze or fling ding, and you stop knowing right from wrong.

I was told at a competition that my horse is a Ferrari, and I will never be able to ride a Ferrari, and that he needs a rider who will have him “exploding”. I crept off out the back so that the person couldn’t see my tears, and went home to read the FEI objectives.  No-where does it mention that the horse should be exploding. In fact harmony, lightness, and correct training, are the terms mentioned up front.
As a rider, I can also tell you, that riding a fling ding flash test, is much easier than riding a test with true engagement, and even steps from the front and the back. True, it is NOT at all easy to ride internationally, but this is not an excuse to not keep trying to get it right, and to reward when riders do get it right.
I’m honoured that people read my blog, and my classical training articles on Eurodressage, and I am even more excited that there are so many purists out there, who truly want to learn and appreciate, the art of Classical Dressage.

What is Correct?

Having had my rant about what is not correct, I have had people writing in about whether it’s the cannon bones lining up or the cannon bone of the back with the fore limb on the front, and to clear things up a bit I decided to go to the FEI rules on the trot….

Kyra

Ingrid

 

 

 

To elaborate on my discussion I will quote the FEI rules on the trot and extended trot, with four very nice examples of what is according to these rules correct…
“The expression “good hock action” underlines the importance of an impulsion originating from the activity of the hindquarters.” My interpretation of this is that “good hock action” is not simply up and down hocks, it is a term that stresses the importance of hocks that propel the horse forward, and step under in order to cover more ground.
“The fore feet should touch the ground on the spot towards which they are pointing.” This point is very interesting, this means that as the front foot is reaching forward it should not drop back to touch the ground. The front foot can only touch the spot it is pointing too if the hind leg is reaching forward and pushing the horse through and over the track of the front. A horse with hocks that go up but not forward will force the front leg to drop back before it hits the ground.
“The movement of the fore and hind legs should reach equally forward in the moment of extension.” For me this means that even if the cannon bones are parallel, the horse must be reaching forward by the same measure with the hind leg and the front leg, i.e. there can’t be a massive gap between where the back leg will land and the diagonal front leg with lift off.

So parallel lines aside, activity without engagement, is just going up and down on the spot. Engagement without activity is far more correct, and engagement with activity is the icing on the cake, which of course takes patience, correct training, and a rider’s ability to be humble, listen, and wait.

This Is NOT Correct!!

This photo allows me to point out three very important concepts that I feel can never be reminded enough!

Firstly, if I posted this photo on Facebook I would get lots of like and people saying how expressive it is…In reality this photo is horrible. Why? Because Batialo is active in front, and some might even say that he is active behind, but THIS DOES NOT MATTER! If you look at a horse that is active in front, and active behind but the two do not match each other, it is not harmonious, nor is it correct. If the horse is reaching out in front he is simply pulling himself along, and is not stepping up and under and pushing from behind. The legs must run as parallel diagonal lines, or more importantly the cannon bones of the front and back legs must be parallel.

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Photo not correct!

Secondly, a photo must provide us with information. It’s obvious that this was one of my more difficult moments with Batialo. He had decided that he knew far more about this dressage thing that I did, and took over. I was actually so proud of myself this day, because it was one of those make or break competition moments. I somehow managed, despite the bucks and side flips, to maintain my composure and finish the test, even with my idol Kyra Kyrkland standing at the sideline. When looking at photos it’s important to remember that there will always be a bad moment, but you have to look at the big picture. At my first ever test on Batialo they took 200 photos and 4 were ok. In the last test we did they again took 200 photos, and 4 very pretty average, mainly because my tongue was poking out or my right leg had flown off into outer space.

Finally, if my mum knew I posted this photo for people to see she would have my guts for gardens. It is absolutely crucial that in your team, or family, or riding circle, that you have at least one person who will tell you, with no bullshit, and no rose coloured glasses, exactly how it is! It’s great to also have a person to tell you you are fantastic, but you need at least one person, in my case my mum, who tells me “Sarah this photo is just fling ding front legs, it’s not through, it’s not correct, and it’s not harmonious…

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Photo much more correct and harmonious 
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horse in balance, still could open gullet more 

This is your only hope of searching for true beauty, parallel diagonals in the front and back, and a horse whose posture and back muscles can grow and support him (aka a happy horse!)

If you are searching for your own dream Lusitano and want one from the source Portugal 🇵🇹 Write to me at warnes@live.com.au

The Hut

What lies on the southern border-the hut of dreams
True story of my childhood

There is a small bluestone structure on the southern most boundary of my property that my family and I refer to as ‘the hut’. A small and seemingly insignificant building, which years of harsh wind and rain have rendered useless. But it is significant to me. To me the tiny hut remains a source of immense pain and grief, feelings so intense that I have not entered within its walls for more than a decade. When the news of my dad first came I didn’t even know that the hut was the place it had happened. It wasn’t until the fire-truck arrived the following day to clean its insides that I became aware of the role the hut had played. I didn’t dare go down there then. I didn’t want to see it. At the time I was so weak that I could barely make the walk south from our house to the hut anyway. My sister went down. She even went in. I guess she is stronger than me in that respect. She never spoke to me about what she saw in the hut that day but I heard from a passing conversation between two friends of hers that she said it looked as if a sheep had been slaughtered. The thought of that brings a sickness to my stomach that I can not describe. The firemen came that afternoon to scrub the blood from every surface, to delete every trace of him from my life. It pains me to think of it, to conjure it up in my mind, to picture the remains of what is left when dreams die, when innocence is lost.

The exact date I do not know, but sometime in the early 1900’s a small bluestone hut was built. It took some five years, to construct the tiny shack, the place that would become a symbol of strength and prosperity to those it would house in the coming decades. It was built as a school for the children of the surrounding district who would walk barefoot, sometimes up to forty miles through thick bush land, to attend lessons.

Due to dwindling attendance the school closed in 1920 and the huts comfortable structure was abandoned and left to gather dust. That was until the early 1930’s when a young couple from the neighboring farm ‘Horseshoe Bend’ saw potential in the small yet significantly adapt structure. Placing it on timber pines, they floated the hut south down the then flooded creek and brought it to rest on the property they now owned.

After what perspective buyers were told was ‘unfortunate circumstances’ the couple sold the property in 1945 to middle aged bald man Tom Goddard. Goddard was a widely proclaimed drunk who used the hut as a middle point to sleep off the headache on his way to and from the local pub. He was of no productive value, and so the surrounding land was left wild and untamed while he drank away his days in the confines of his little hut. The highlight of his time at ‘Horseshoe bend’ was when he lashed out and brought the exciting new invention which they were calling the Television. He would sit completely entranced by the small black and white screen, so fascinated with the contraption that he would spend hours on end staring at the test screen and not even trying to tune in actual channels.

My parents bought the property in the late 1970’s and the hut was the only solitary structure. It stood alone in a 2500 acre landscape of nothing but red sandy dirt, which somehow my parents saw as a great foundation for a prosperous family life.

Built of bluestone and red gum timber panels the hut was little bigger than most bathrooms you see today, yet when it was built in the early 1900’s was a feat of both strength and admiration. There was little complexity within its tiny structure. Just an old open fire place to the far right and a bench or two protruding from adjacent walls, once handy for scaling fish or stuffing the duck for dinner. But it sure had character. It had weathered a thousand storms, provided shelter and comfort in times of hardship, and stood deserted for maybe decades at a time when raging floods and devastating droughts had deemed the surrounding land worthless.

When my parents arrived on the property the hut became their refuge while the main house was being built. For years they called its tiny dwellings their home. Hardly the ideal newlywed domain, considering the entire house was contained in one room, but nevertheless it did provide comfort and the necessary middle ground to hang ones hat while the bigger dreams where being laid.

When I was young, and the main house had well and truly become my families living quarters, the hut was used as a tack room, storing our saddlery and the occasional odd and end that had been banished from the more predominant main tool shed. But its small confines again limited its usefulness and soon enough larger stables were constructed and the hut was left deserted once more.

For years it sat gathering dust and cobwebs, housing I’m sure numerous black snakes and rats in search of shelter. When I was 12 my pet cat used the hut to raise her own little family, knowing full well that her litter of feral inbreeds would surely see the barrel end of my fathers 22 had her journey into motherhood been brought to his attention.

Despite its neglect and increasing uselessness the hut never ceased to rouse my curiosity. Although it was small and seemingly insignificant I was certain it held many stories, kept many secrets. I forget how the story came up, but round the dinner table one night I was told of what the hut had seen, what it had witnessed. The couple that had floated the hut to Horseshoe bend all those decades ago had, like my parents, come in search of a prosperous family beginning. Sadly harsh floods followed by almost a decade of deadly drought forced a riff between the happy couple and when the marriage eventually came to an end the wife moved to a nearby station leaving the husband to battle on in the harsh conditions. The hut became a bachelor pad for the deserted husband and his brother who had been called in to help. But a drunken night of poker within the tiny huts walls is where the true story begins. After a few bottles of whisky, fuelled by a feeling of worthlessness and a longing for revenge, the two brothers left the hut and headed out to pay the once wholesome wife a visit. In a storm of drunken fury and anguish the two men ravaged her one by one, leaving her alone, a wholesome woman no longer. The hut sat quietly waiting when the two men returned, but could not have fore sore what it would later witness. The woman so enraged, so tormented, would not be beaten. In a defiant struggle of sheer determination she walked the forty miles and stood at the foot of that blue stone hut, with nothing left but a yearning for the pain to stop and her trusty shot gun.

The two men meet their deaths in the hut that night, and the tiny room that had once held there dreams became the setting for their moral and physical demise.

From that night on when I walked by the hut I would feel a slight shiver, and I never once ventured within its walls alone again. I knew it was silly, childish to be scared of a little bluestone hut, but I felt it was somehow haunted. But its connection to my life was far from over and little did I know the significant place it would later hold in my nightmares.

Nowadays the hut is a mere reflection of its former glory. The roof has caved in leaving the bluestone and red gum timber panels to face the harsh winds unprotected. I can’t imagine what the inside must look like but I know my curiosity will never outweigh my fear. A hut that I had once avoided through suspicion I now resent through connotative grief and utter terror. It’s been seven years since the accident and yet I feel the hut knows more about that fateful day than I will ever know. Just as it saw many beginnings, the hut once again witnessed an end, and with it went my innocence and my belief in happiness. Horseshoe bend was to be a place of great prosperity, of life and love and above all a place to build a family. But just as the hut had been the place my father began his life of dreams so too it became the place where he would end them.