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


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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!

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Letting Go…

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

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Hachemita- 4 year old Lusitano for Sale




Sire :Chocolate (pedro sousa vieira)

Breeder: pedro beja da costa

Excellent character with a high potencial for dressage, three very good gaits.

Contact me for more info!!

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…



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

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.


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.

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.