What type of Horse Rider are you?

I have thought about this a lot recently as I face not riding again. The question why do I love riding so much comes to mind…What is it about being on a horse that I crave, as I do crave it, it becomes almost like an addiction. Ask any person who has lived and breathed horses all their life and they will tell you. The thought of not riding is almost unthinkable.

I have read on this subject, articles that outline the different types of riders, and throughout my many years watching my mum teach all sorts of different students, I came to see that there are many many different ways to love and be drawn to riding.

The most common I see is the rider who is afraid of the horse, but loves him anyway. This is the person who typically spends more time grooming than actually riding, and I have grown to admire this person the older I get. The person who spends countless hours with their horse, just in his presence, only to pop on for ten minutes, praying it goes ok, and then return to the stable to again pamper him as if he was the king of her world. A person who in spite of their fear finds comfort and purpose in being near this wonderful animal.

Another is the competitor. This person started off with a deep love of horses, and gradually it became their job. They still love the horse, but don’t get the luxury to spend as much time with him as they would like to and sometimes find themselves missing the days when they didn’t have clients and calendar commitments, and they could just use riding as their escape from life, not as their life itself.

The next is the passionate learner. This rider has spent their entire life on and off the horse reading and thinking and arguing (often heated at it times) over the correct training principles. They love to discuss the horse as much they love to ride him, and they find huge reward in the teaching of the horse, the lifelong journey of finding harmony with mans best friend. They are saddened today to see what the competition world has become and often feel puzzled or even angry watching the warm-ups of some (not all) of todays top riders.

The next is the thrill seeker. They love the more adrenaline filled disciplines and may or may not care for the accolades at the finish but more the out of control feeling they get on the course. They love to let go, because perhaps in other areas of their lives they are particularly organised and strict, or maybe the contrary, they are always a bit on the messy side, and this allows them to bring that out and make something of it.

You may not fit into any of these categories, in which case you would be like me. I am a combination of all of these. I grew up on a huge farm, and still to this day my favourite thing ever to do on the horse was to gallop across the paddock at home and bring the cattle in from out the back, with my Kelpie at my side. There is no greater feeling than that where the only two people in the world are you and your horse. You can create this in the competition arena, or in a crowded training ground, and this is the feeling that we as riders crave. When the rest of the world disappears and it is just us….I also have a piece of every other category. I love to fly across a cross country course my heart beating. I love to teach my horse piaffe and feel him learning and getting excited that he knows and understands what I want. I love to ride into the competition ring, to the sound of applause, and feel my horse grow a little underneath me. And I love to talk to my mother for hours on end about impulsion or collection, and watch videos, and discuss scores or tests, or what exercise would help best with our latest conundrum.  And I also love to just be around the horse, and quite often I am scared…scared to fall, scared to be injured, scared that he will fall or be injured.

Horse riding becomes an addiction, it’s a passion that overtakes us and drives a huge part of our lives. I know before I even begin a conversation with my mum how her ride went that day, and I am sure many horse riding husbands have learnt when to just keep quiet…

So if the major part of your day is spent thinking about horses, and training horses, and getting back in the saddle, then which type of addict are you?

You Might be Looking, but are you Seeing?…

I have now lived away from my home country for almost 7 years and I feel lucky to have embraced another country and allowed it to be my home…

Because that is actually the bottom line, you have to allow a new country to become your own, travelling is a choice and so is your decision to travel with an open mind, or a closed one.

I worked two summers at the top of Australia, on some of the most beautiful islands in the world, and what I witnessed from nature was breathtaking, and what I witness from tourists…equally astonishing in all the wrong ways.

People who had travelled 16,000kms or more to look at something, without ever really seeing it.

Some I still remember quite clearly. The French couple who would go for hours without eating until they found something “French” to eat. The American who threw a fit at the end of a diving excursion because I told him that “no he could not take some of the coral (protected natural habitat for thousands of amazingly rare and beautiful species) home with him.

“But I only want to take a little bit”…He said to me, as if in his own ignorance he couldn’t imagine the impact it would have if every single person who visited the reef took “just a little bit”.

The guy who told me the tourist walks were too clean and would dissapear off into the national rainforest and then tell me how “untouched” it all was when you went into the areas where humans were not allowed to go.

Sometimes I didn’t have words, and I am typically a person who knows what she wants to say.

But there were other people who kept to the rules, and were polite and felt grateful to witness such a beautiful part of the world, and yet I felt they took nothing away from it.

I can relate to this in some way. When I first arrived in Europe I travelled a lot. I looked at many different countries and cultures and things I had never seen before in Australia. But I am not sure I saw that much.

I think at that time in my life I was trying to get away from the old, rather than actually see something new.

We can look at something a thousand times without ever really seeing it.

By the time I got to Portugal, I was ready to see something, to embrace something, and to start again.

It was a decision to love this country, just as much as it was luck that it happened to be such a perfect fit for me.

At the moment I get slightly frustrated most days when I read the expatriate facebook pages. While often they can be quite helpful, they can be sometimes rather frustrating for someone who actually let another country in.

People message the page asking why they don’t fit in, and then go on to complain about just about everything. It’s like asking why your partner isn’t happy, while constantly telling them how awful they are.

Often I find people that move overseas and then compare everything to what they had a home. “The beaches aren’t the same, the food isn’t the same, the language is hard”, and they go on and on, and I wonder if they spent that time going out and seeing something new, whether that might be time better spent.

I understand that a part of us does it subconsciously, we compare what we know to what we are yet to experience. Imagine though if every person you met you compared them to another person that you already knew?  That every time you had a  beer you compared it to that one time that beer was so good and so you were forever disappointed… I am guessing you would end up in a loop of the same, and never really be open for something different, or maybe even something better?

I don’t have the answer, but one thing that travelling, and working with foreigners, has taught me, is that we do have a choice as to whether we just look at something or whether we actually see it… and to whether we allow ourselves to see something for what it is, rather than for what it is not.

I have started working on my book “North of Everything” which I hope to finish by the end of next year…Stay tuned 😉 




Give Yourself a Break…

Our mind can be our greatest weapon, or our biggest weakness, depending on how we control it.

And we do control it…

I have always been fascinated with the power of ones own mind. I have seen it destroy someone that I love, and I have also seen it keep someone going through impossible odds.

We witness it everyday. The person with depression who forgets why he loves his family, the grandfather who holds on just to see his grandson being born, the cancer patient who refuses to give up.

There is an aboriginal folk story that I read about when I was little, where the tribe leader would “point the bone” at a man who had deceived the tribe in some way, and that man would be dead within the week. It wasn’t a special bone of any kind, just the regular sort, but because the man accused believed in the ritual…he died.

I used to say that “If you strongly believe something, it’s already happened…because even if it hasn’t happened, it might as well have.”

Truth is you can convince yourself of pretty much anything if you set your mind on it. And once you convince yourself you unconsciously make it true. You can wake up and decide that you hate your life, and let that destroy every good thought you have.

My mum would always say to me “don’t let your mind go there”…and there is so much truth in that…Everyone has good and bad thoughts, it’s whether or not you choose to explore them that matters.

The second part about the mind is how it affects those around us…We project so much onto other people without even realising it…

In 1964 Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal, performed an experiment with students and teachers to prove that  “If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ from certain students, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ,”. This theory has now been proven many times over, that what we expect from people we often create for them.

I believe this…The less you think of someone, the more they prove you right to be suspicious.

But can you do this for yourself?

I am facing this at the moment. I can’t and most likely will never do the thing that I dedicated my life to. My writing, and teaching, and my dream…the reason why I moved across the other side of the world, was in a large part to start again, but in the most part it was to pursue my dream of international competition, specifically to continue my life with horses and make something from that.

It has not been easy for me to face up to that reality. I feel like I have failed in every possible way, but the reality is I have not. I believe that my physical inability to do the thing I love has actually just uncovered something that needs to be dealt with…I still have not forgiven myself for things that I did, or things that I had nothing to do with, from years ago. Sometimes I have to actively tell myself just to give myself a break, because not everything in the whole world is actually my fault.

It’s a freeing thought actually. The thought that regardless of what I do, and what I achieve, I will be ok, because I deserve no more or no less than anyone else. Learning to see myself with the same amount of care and affection that I give to everyone else.

It seems so simple..Just don’t be so hard on yourself. But the truth is I have spent a lifetime trying to make up for something that in reality I had nothing to do with.

You may think me weak for admitting it, and I don’t really care, over 100 people wrote to me last week to say that they admire me, or I inspire them, and a part of me is proud of that, and a part of me wonders…why? Why do I inspire them?

I think it’s because in my articles, both in life and in horse riding, I say the things that people think, and as one lady said, I “say it like it is” and not in a way that would make me sound better, or more knowledgeable.

In training I say how much trouble I had with an exercise and suggest a new approach, instead of saying how well I can do it and then explain why I can do it so well…

People also were writing to ask what happened? Basically I have an injury that has been getting slowly worse for 20 years, and a specialist had told me that surgery to lock the pubic bone together is the only solution.

I have since then seen other physicians who say that fusing the pubic bone of a 30 year old woman, cutting off her chances of ever..riding, or havinga family, or even running, is ridiculous.

I am trying again with the physio from my favorite football team (Benfica) and a pilates trainer who is just the the best, and who knows what the future holds…But one thing is certain, this experience has reminded me of the things I still need to work on, and I am finding that “giving myself a break” is not such a bad thing after all.

What’s Next….Becoming Portuguese? and Getting Back Riding…?

I have now received my last residency permit (I hope), because in 9 months time I can apply for Portuguese Nationality.

I have been asked why I want Nationality?

In truth I don’t actually need it, and it would probably be easier just to keep applying for residency because of the paperwork required to actually become Portuguese.

Someone told me recently that just because I am granted citizenship it doesn’t make me Portuguese. They were right of course, but for me it signifies more than a dual passport or the right to be here as long as I wish. To me it’s more than that.

An important thing which we all crave, even if we deny it, is a feeling of belonging. People find this sense of belonging in all sorts of ways. Some people belong to a church, or belong to a book club. Some are part of a sport or sports team, similar people who share a  similar drive or passion. I feel I belong when I am on the horse, like it’s normal, like it’s where I am meant to be. I feel I belong when I am next to someone who makes me laugh and with whom I love and admire.

And, I feel, and have felt for 6 years, that I belong in Portugal.

I do not know why. I love this country for many reasons. But more than that I love who it allowed me to be. People romanticise moving overseas and I am not going to do that. In the beginning it’s lonely. But then again I know people who are surrounded by the familiar and they are far more lonely than I have ever felt here in Portugal.

The weather here helped a lot in the beginning. It’s hard to be down when you are on a beautiful beach lying in the sun, even if you are there by yourself.

Portugal is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and I believe  it’s because of the feeling that you get when you are here. Aside from the food, which is delicious, and the landscape which is unique and diverse, Portugal has a relaxed and welcoming feeling that can’t really be described. It’s a feeling that I needed because my mind runs way too fast. The people that I admire the most are those that have mastered the ability to be in the present moment, a feeling that I have only in the last two years come to truly appreciate or understand.

I am trying to use this now, as I give horse riding another try…I have given up the thought of competing for now, for now I just want to ride, and to enjoy riding not just for being on the horse, but for being with the horse. Horses have been my best friends since before I knew what friendship was, since before I could actually walk or talk. They got me through the worst times in my life, when I wanted the world to dissapear, because when I was out on my horse, it felt like it had. It was just me, and my horse, and nothing else.

I think everyone needs their own thing. Their own escape. I was talking recently with someone about how often that escape is part of who we are, the lighter side of our character, the side that makes life fun…and when you stripaway all the ways we have to let that part of us come out, then often you are just left with someone who resents the person who took that away, and themselves for allowing that to happen.

Portugal gave me the freedom to understand that not everything that happens in life is your fault. Despite knowing this I am still hugely self critical, and often really harsh on myself.  I judge myself on a scale that I would never in a million years expect others to live up to, and for some reason riding is my escape from that also. It’s funny that in a place where you are judged, you feel free from judgement, but I guess that’s just how life is ;). I am sure I would find another way to escape, to feel like I have a thing thats just mine, that I enjoy, and I feel proud doing, but I feel that won’t be until I truly give up the idea of riding …

As for Portuguese nationality?…No I don’t need it… and no it won’t make me Portuguese. I am Australian. I will always be Australian, and I am lucky to come from a nation that allows me dual nationality. But I do have this feeling that I belong here, and that is a hard thing to describe sometimes to people, particularly my family who love Australia so much…I still love Australia, but gaining nationality is just something for myself, something to say… I came here, I stayed here, and this is where I belong.




CRC…Design Your Own Riding Holiday

I once heard a friend of my mother’s say that she wished there was somewhere she could go, near lisbon, near the beach, where she could have her own small apartment at the horses, do Piaffe and Passage on a Lusitano, see the

Australian Lauren Gretgrix on her Riding Holiday…Passaging on a GP Lusitano

Portuguese school of Equestrian art, and also be shown around Lisbon and it’s surrounding areas by someone who knew where to eat the best Portuguese tarts, and could explain a small piece of Portugals very vast and interesting history.

I set out last year with my mates at the Cascais Riding Club to make that happen, and having now had successful trips with riders from Ireland, Finland and Australia, we have worked out that riders want a flexible holiday, that they can design themselves, and they want everything to be accessible and simple, so they can just enjoy it.

The Cascais Riding Club now allows you to organise everything yourself before you come, and offers a range of different extras so riders can create their own riding holiday.

Once you book the flight, I organise transfers to and from the stables, and the apartments (via this link) are located at the horses. http://www.quintadabicuda.com/?page_id=128

The accomodation, with kitchenette, television, and ensuite bathroom


Mini Apartments at the horses with pool for the summer months 🙂 🙂




For a more luxurious stay there are many lovely hotels around the corner, and if your husband is more for golf than horses the golf courses in the area are quite famous.

The lovely groung at the CRC (Cascais Riding Club)
Cascais Riding Club

Non riding family members (sisters, kids, parents) can also head off to the beach that is 5 minutes away, and choose from surf, paddle and a range of other activities on offer.

Once the family is entertained, you can choose between one to two riding lessons a day, given by me and the team at Cascais Riding Club, and you can inform me beforehand what you wish to work on, and also send video of your riding so I better understand your horse, and your own journey.

To see the surrounding area we then offer day tours of lisbon and or Sintra with ‘Amazing Discovery Tours’ to see the old castles and the very unique lisbon centre on a private tour with a portuguese local guide who is also a very good friend of mine.

Castle in Sintra
My favorite city in the world






Tour guide Carlos From the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art 🙂 🙂




We now also offer a morning trip to the Portuguese school of Equestrian art to watch either a training or a show depending on your preference, and you will be taken as a guest by one of the riders of the school itself.


For more information, write to me at warnes@live.com.au and start designing your own dream holiday today 🙂 🙂 .

Full list of prices for the CRC package, including lessons and accomodation, below…

Individual Pack

(Bungalow studio)


Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)



5 days (4 nights)



7 days (6 nights)



The Individual Pack includes the Bungalow Studio, with capacity for 2 people, and 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 1 person.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

Double Pack

(Bungalow with 2 rooms)


Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)



5 days (4 nights)



7 days (6 nights)



The Double Pack includes the Bungalow with 2 Rooms, with a total capacity for 4 people, and 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 2 people.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

Family Pack

(Bungalow duplex)


Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)


1 Half-day kids entertainment


1 Half-day kids entertainment

5 days (4 nights)


3 Half-days kids entertainment


3 Half-days kids entertainment

7 days (6 nights)


4 Half-days kids entertainment


4 Half-days kids entertainment

The Family Pack includes the Bungalow Duplex, with total capacity for 4 people, 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 2 people and Kids entertainment as indicated in the table.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

*High Season – June 15th to September 15th and Easter Holidays

Kids Entertainment can include the following games: traditional, water, science, football, treasure hunt, cooking, artistic expression and gymkhana.

Click here for the prices flyer….

Thank you Batialo!!…


I set out 5 years ago to compete internationally, and in 2015 I made that happen. People read my classical training articles in most part I believe because I don’t sugar coat it. I don’t say “and then you just pop the horse into a shoulder-in and it’s easy”…I explain that each step in dressage is one step forward, and it takes patience and resilience to continue through the ups and downs.

I don’t say that you just arrive in Europe and get a good horse, and go to a competition and smile all the way, because that is just not going to happen.

It’s now more than 18 months since my last big competition, because I was badly injured and I damaged some tendons, and tendons can take a long time to recover. This was made worse by the fact that I continued to ride, and to persevere, even though I knew, in my gut that that horse was just not right for me.
This horse had been my best friend, partner, and reason for being in Europe and ,when I was with depression ,my reason for getting up at all.
And yes, that was very very hard for me to admit.

I have learnt throughout a lifetime of riding that there are two things that make a top sports person, and neither have to do with physical talent, or technique.

One is a passion for the sport. A drive that can take you beyond all the disappointments and set backs…A drive that will make you get up at 3am and drive 6 hours to a freezing cold competition in the rain, and stick  at it through all the times when you messed up, or forgot the test, or finally actually did a good test and didn’t get the marks that you possibly deserved.

The second thing is humility. Being humble enough to say I didn’t do well today, the judge was right, and most importantly, this horse, no matter how much I wish him to be, is never going to reach his potential, with me as his rider.


For whatever reason…You might be too small, or too tall, or yes even too much of a women, because some horses just need a man!

Having this mix of passion and humility will not guarantee you get there, but it will put you ahead of all the people who waste their time on a horse that just doesn’t suit them, or that they are afraid of, or that they just don’t connect with.

Unfortunately for me, I did click with Batialo. Sometimes I honestly believe he knows me better than anyone, and I will never forget the day that a little girl at the stable said to me that she knows nothing about horses, but she could see that that horse over there was mine, and that he just adored me.

But I can wallow in self-pity all I like,  that won’t change the fact that I have spent the last 18 months trying to recover on a horse I am afraid of, a horse that knows I have lost my faith in him, and my faith in myself when I am on him.

It’s not because he does anything, he doesn’t. It’s because I lost my confidence on him, and I can’t get it back.

Einstein says that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

And I was quite honestly going insane, but worse than that I was losing my own sense of pride and achievement, because I felt like I had failed my horse.

And that is something an athlete can never do.
I have thought a lot about giving up riding. But I can’t. It’s not just a sport to me. It’s also something that I share with my mother, who taught me to ride before I could walk, and who has shared my journey since the beginning. It’ my reason for calling her at 6am before a competition and asking her what do to if this happens, or why I can’t get the left half pass in the test. It’s true I ride for myself, but I also love that my best friend (mum) shares it with me.

So first I will enjoy teaching, and I have a lot of people booking for the “Warneyswhip classical Riding holiday” which is an all included horse riding holiday, complete with airport transfers and tours of Lisbon and Sintra :).

It’s true that Batialo will never be “just a horse” to me…and as I write this blog I am in tears that I know are not going to help anything. But he is at the peak of his career and I can still take pride in knowing that if he gets to Grand Prix I was a part of it.
I have learnt in life, when you fall off the horse, you have to get back on…But this time I will be getting on a different horse, but with all that I have learnt from the last 5 years, with a very talented friend of mine…

Thank you Batialo ❤ 🙂







This is NOT Lightness!!

 “The relaxation of the mouth alone is not enough. It can be deceptive, because it does not necessarily lead to lightness. It has to be accompanied by the relaxation of the entire horse. When he relaxes the back, it will definitely have repercussions in the mouth.” (Nuno Oliveira)

In order to demonstrate this point I had to use a fairly “cowgirl” shot of me and Batialo…but my point is that lightness, is not about having loose reins, or even a forward hand…Lightness is about the whole thing, about 100 things coming together in unison allowing the rider the room to give the rein without the horse losing the…engagement, rhythm, balance, uphill, tendency, cadence, and forwardness of the movement.

This is lightness…

This is NOT lightness…

Even though his nose is in front of the vertical he is not engaged and he is hollow in the back, so therefore he CANNOT be displaying lightness!

I am constantly being shown pictures on social media, with comment after comment praising the rider for “lightness” and I look at it and think, sure the rider is letting the rein loose, but anyone can do that if you pick the right moment.

Lightness is not the rider’s ability to loosen the rein, is it “the consequence of impulsion and collection.” (N.Oliveira (1998, 43).

So how do we tell if a horse is truly light? And how do we achieve this?

The common mistake we see is a horse that is simply bouncing up and down and therefore not into the contact…

““The great mistake about lightness is to have a horse ridden on floating reins neither round nor full of impulsion. This is not equitation, it is trail riding. We should only release the contact when the horse is round and in impulsion.” (Nuno Oliveira)

Alternatively riders think they can just push the horse into the rein, and then allow…and so we end up with two ends of the spectrum, with lightness lying very neatly in the middle!

“Many riders in the name of impulsion, put too much tension in their horses. Others in the name of lightness, have their horse “abandoned” (without a sufficient connection). The truth of equitation is in between those two extremes.

So how do we obtain true lightness?

Well first we must have our horse in balance, and this can only be achieved when he can bend as easily to the left, as he can to the right.

Then we must have our horse round and on the bit, and this can only be achieved when he is in front of the leg and moving alone.

Then we must achieve collection, and true collection, which is not to be confused with just squishing the horse into a ball of tension…




LIghtness in the stretch!

“The difference between a compressed horse and a collected horse is that he collected horse can put his nose toward the ground (stretch) while staying round.” (Nuno Oliveira)


Lightness is not something that magically happens when we give the rein. It is something that is achieved over years of training, with the use of exercises and transitions and a system of correct reward and timing.

“We must obtain a horse that is round and light by the nuance and delicacy of our techniques, rather than by using “legs like a wrench” to obtain by force some flashy immediate effects.” (Nuno Oliveira)

So the next time you see a picture of a horse and rider, and you think, wow lightness…check again…this is not to criticise but to learn and understand…to differenciate true equestrian art and appreciate it were it deserves the merit.