Readers’ Choice: Adjusting Your Expectations…

It is great to come out everyday with a goal, an idea of what you would like to achieve.

It is also great to have a long term vision, a set of objectives with set times frames.

However, I read a quote recently that said “Peace Begins when Expectation Ends”, and I realise the importance of this truth in dressage training.

“Peace Begins when Expectation Ends” (unknown author)

It is great to set high expectations for yourself and for your horse, but if by chance you fall short of those ideals, often we are over critical or even a little harsh on ourselves afterwards.

If I come out for training and decide that today I am going to fix my position, then perhaps I am expecting too much and thus setting myself up to fail.

If however I come out and say today I will work on getting more relaxation in my legs, then it is more likely that my expectation will be met, and that tomorrow I can work on a different aspect.

If I decide today I am going to do the whole test perfectly, again I’m over shooting. If I select two or three movements of the test, and work on perfecting them, then I have more chance of a satisfied ride and a less confused and tired horse.

I have often heard people coming back after injury, or bringing their horse back after injury, saying things like “But I was expecting to be here by this date, so I’m going to have to push it.”

Expectations with deadlines are super, but setbacks are a natural and very real part of dressage training, and the ability to adjust your expectations, is just as important as your ability to set them in the first place.

I had expectations of where I wanted to be and when, but after the decision to geld my horses I had to rearrange my goals in order to give myself, and my horse time to recover and adjust.

If we set too much of our goals in concrete, we set ourselves up for disappointment, but if we make goals, understanding that they must remain flexible, we allow ourselves and our horses the opportunity to be in the moment.

Don’t end all expectation, but allow yourself the peace that comes from the ability to adjust them every now and then according to where you are on your journey.

Warney’s Whip

For the full article on learning to ride in the moment, click here and go to Eurodressage 😉

TRAINING: Loss of Confidence… In yourself, or in your horse…

I have talked lot about fear, about facing up to the fact we are not indestructible and well, falling off hurts!

Fear aside, there is another emotion that is very important in riding, and that is confidence.

I’m not talking about confidence in terms of the absence of fear, but confidence in terms of believing in yourself, in your horse, and in your ability to train him effectively.

When you lack the confidence, you stop believing in yourself, and the problem with that is that your horse is very aware of the fact that you don’t think you can do it, and if you don’t believe in yourself, well why should he?

“When you lack the confidence, you stop believing in yourself(…)”

The opposite is being a trainer or rider that believes they know everything, and have their “own system” that is completely fool proof and works on every horse and every rider.

Both ends of the confidence scale are particularly detrimental, and both will suffocate your chance of personal growth, and training success.

Having the right amount of confidence, and still understanding that you are always learning, always growing, always perfecting, is yet another fine line in the world of dressage, and if you can find the balance, it will help install the right amount of confidence in your horse.

“Your horse will understand that you are capable(…)”

Your horse will understand that you are capable, but will know that you still grant him the respect to tell you if you are not getting the message across in the right way.

For example, If I give the aid for the half pass, I must be confident and I must expect a reaction. However, I must leave room for the possibility that if I constantly apply the same aid, and my horse gets more and more confused, then it is my aid that is not correct, or my body that is somehow blocking my horse.

Then I must have the humility, and yet still the confidence to say, well I didn’t get it right, how can I change it, and still know that I will get it right, and I can change it.

Walking the fine line of confidence in ones ability, yet leaving room to accept ones weaknesses, allows you the possibility to feel what is happening with you and with your horse, and help you to gain confidence in each other.

Instilling confidence in your horse, is even more difficult, as it requires constant reward, recognition, patience, and compassion, while also maintaining the ability to lead the dance.

“A talented and intelligent horse can be your best ever teacher(…)”

A talented and intelligent horse can be your best ever teacher, because they will have the right amount of confidence in you. Confidence enough to trust in your aids, but confidence enough in themselves, and their relationship with you, to tell you when you didn’t get it right.

It’s the give and take in this relationship, that helps you to grow together, instead of fighting it out in an ego battle of who is right.

If you know that alone you and your horse have worked out the delicate confidence line, that each of you trust and respect the other, then it also helps to have other people around you to foster that confidence.

I’m not saying you need to go out and order your own private cheer squad, I’m saying that if you are always surrounded by people who have a negative or even disrespectful view of you, your horse, and your ability, then eventually this will get to you.

We can all pretend we are islands, but at the end of the day it’s great to have someone who can believe in you when you question yourself, as most dressage riders inevitably do at some point or another.

e: warneyswhip(a)

Insight: The Art of Accepting a Compliment

I have talked about learning to be able to take criticism, about accepting, and even being thankful for the but that comes after any feedback, knowing that that but can help you to be better!

While many of us must master the ability to take criticism, it can be just as difficult learning to accept and appreciate a nice compliment or genuine praise.

Learning to accept, internalise, and make use of criticism is an art, but receiving and accepting praise, or a compliment, seems far more simple.

In reality, there are numerous ways in which one can ruin a good compliment exchange, and chances are you know someone who you have given up complimenting because it has become too much hassle.

“Equally frustrating are those who just can’t ever accept a compliment. Who when you say “you look beautiful”, think you are being sarcastic, or rude, or just plain stupid.”

First of all we have the “goodie two shoes”, people like those kids at school who would suck so hard up to the teacher fishing for the compliment, or praise, that really it lost all meaning.

The people that have to find validation by making sure everyone acknowledges just how great they really are.

Equally frustrating are those who just can’t ever accept a compliment. Who when you say “you look beautiful”, think you are being sarcastic, or rude, or just plain stupid.

Appreciating, accepting, and letting that acceptance generate feelings of gratitude, and warmth, doesn’t mean you are up your self, it means that you have the ability to accept yourself as seen by another.

It takes work, learning to push out that gut reaction of “you can’t be serious”, and just let yourself feel happy.

It might be something tiny, that you thought no-one noticed, a special meal, or silly gift, and when someone turns to you, unpromtped, and says thankyou, learn to enjoy it.

The problem often is we get so used to hearing put downs, and ridicule, that our society becomes sceptical of genuine praise.

“(…) what I find to be beautiful might not be the same as the person sitting next to me.”

Someone gives us a genuinely nice comment, and we immediately question it, or in some cases, turn it around so that it sounds not like a compliment at all.

I have been reading many of the dressage groups recently, and I find that their is plenty of very good and healthy criticism, but not a lot of genuinely supportive and helpful praise.

In some cases even when a person does go for it, and says something positive, others condemn them for being incorrect, or praising without merit.

Beauty in dressage also has a subjective element to it, and what I find to be beautiful might not be the same as the person sitting next to me.

It doesn’t make me wrong, or them right, or vice versa, and some of the best praise can come from someone who just genuinely feels, through their eyes, that something is worth celebrating.

Horses are the best at their ability to praise, and accept praise in return; give them a carrot and they’ll think you are amazing!

Batialo loves to be told how awesome he is, but if he bites my arm he doesn’t expect to be told he is a good boy.

In fact he slinks off into hiding knowing that he took the ‘play’ too far.

IMG_2543He also knows that if he tries to show off, and earn my reward through over exuberance, that he will also not be fully rewarded, because I know him, and I know when he is just trying to get me to tell him he is awesome, and when actually he is trying to take over!

If people give you compliments and you throw them back, chances are you’ll end up never being told anything, for fear that a genuinely nice feeling will lose its intention and its meaning.

No Woman is an Island….

Riding a horse is just one part of the whole kit and caboodle, and there is a whole lot more to it than just the hour or so a day you spend training your horse.

IMG_0262Mum taught me from a very young age that if you didn’t do the stuff yourself, you didn’t go out of home, and so I learnt the ins and outs of grooming, feeding, mucking out, cleaning, clipping, lunging, brushing, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on.

Sometimes this “lesson in independence” would go a little awry, and I will never forget the day I tried to give my shetland pony an all over body trim using the kitchen scissors. Gave new meaning to the word “chunk”!
When I arrived in Portugal, I for the first time, had the luxury of having a groom, but of course for the first 6 months I would not let them anywhere near my horse, and when I did occasionally arrive and the horse was saddled, I would usually inspect every inch, and sometimes even take the saddle off and put it on again myself, just in case 😉
Lately I have become a little more used to having my own personal strapper, and I must say that in a foreign country competing by myself, it is nice to have someone to help with that stuff so you can stress about all the other things like test riding, and staying on etc lol.
They say that no woman is an island, and my lesson is that while no woman is an island it is important to never become a dependant state either, and while a good support team is vital, never let yourself become dependant on others for anything.
It is very wise to let people help, but always make sure you know yourself how to do things, and check, no matter how must you trust in your team, that the things are done the way you like them, or the way that is best for your horse.
There is no point sliding off under the horse’s tummy, and then blaming someone else for not doing the girth up tight enough. Make sure that you are methodical enough in your daily routine that those things are checked, as the only one who will be truly affected by a slight overlook is YOU!
Don’t try to be an island, but don’t be a sinking ship either, and make sure you know your horse, and most of all, make sure your horse knows that you are keeping an extra eye on everything that happens to him.
Watch him, learn from the way he reacts to others, and always be aware if his reaction changes, and think about what may have caused these changes.
Be on the ball, and on the ground, and your horse will thank you, and when he does, you will understand him enough to know it!!!!!

New events coming! For more information contact me via

The Crazy Ones

I have been told that I’m crazy on many occasions. My response is always the same: “Thank you!” I remember reading once that “no-one ever got famous for being boring” and I agree completely. If you’re the one at school that others pick on, chances are you have something they don’t, or they want to […]

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.

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.


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!


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!!!!