Finish On A High

My grandparents were married for over 60 years, and my grandma’s golden rule was “To never go to sleep angry”.

The reasoning was of course that she wanted to finish each day with positive emotions, in order to wake up feeling happy and ready to start the new day ;).

If you want to establish a long and healthy relationship with your horse, this rule can be applied in a new way, and I say “Always finish your training on a high!”

What does that mean?

Some days you come out into the arena, and from start to finish you feel that your horse is with you, and listening to you, and on these days finishing on a high is easy.

“Always finish your training on a high!”

On the days where you are feeling less capable, or having trouble with a particular movement, always try to finish that movement, and the training session, with something you accomplished and executed well!

For example, if I am working on the half pass, and I am just not getting it how I would like it, finish that work with a very well executed leg yield, and then reward the horse.

If you are having a day where you feel you cannot achieve anything you had set your mind to, finish on something you know you both do really well, and congratulate your horse.

When you leave the arena you want both you and your horse to think, well I did that really well, even if the “that” was not the difficult exercise you had been working on.

If you try to do the perfect canter pirouette, and you end up in a big mess, and your horse gets stiff or takes over, and you keep trying to do it and in the end you just give up, you will leave the arena A, feeling like you are a failure, and B with a horse that will remember that this dressage stuff is a whole lot of hard work.

If you know the canter pirouette is not yet there, finish that series of exercises with 4 strides of on the spot collected canter, and reward your horse for his brilliance.

He will remember how much fun it was to collect the canter, and next time you ask for more, who knows he might be so proud of himself, he will give you the full pirouette.

I’ve seen riders who not only finish on a low note in the training, but then also leave the stable in a bad mood and don’t say goodbye to their horse.

One of the truly undefined yet powerful aspects of dressage is the psychological link between horse and rider, and if you don’t foster that, you can’t expect greatest in the arena.

Even if you had a ride that was not your best and you are late for work, or feeling tired, or hungry, take two seconds to just say thank you to your horse, pat him, give him a carrot or two.

It may seem simple, but my grandma was onto something, and if when you leave your horse, you pass on good energies, loving thoughts, praise and gratefulness, he will be that much happier to see you tomorrow 😉 .

Click here to learn about dealing with frustration at Eurodressage

Getting a sore back before, after, or on the horse? Click to here to get fit for riding!


The most challenging relationship we will ever have…Is the one we have with ourselves!

20140617-203708-74228021.jpgIt is by far the most difficult to understand, and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something happens and you react completely differently to the way you thought you would!

It’s funny that  we grow to “realise that nothing is forever”, and that “things can happen when we least expect it”, and yet still, even with this knowledge, we are always left saying…

“Why me? or “How could this possibly be happening?”

The people around us are just as complex as we are, yet somehow, though different relationships, we come to learn which people we can trust and which ones we can’t…

Which is more than we can say for our own emotions!

Some relationships are built on dependency, with one person lesser than the other.

This used to be predominantly the male,  but post 1950 and the rise of womans rights, and now it’s just as likely to be the woman in charge.

I was reminded of this today when I saw a woman walking the dog, with the husband walking 5 steps behind with the poo bag….fantastic!;)

The most destructive type of relationship you can have with a person, is jealousy.

I was envious of my sister my entire life, and when I finally talked to her about it, turns out she had always felt the same toward me.

Unfortunately we let this attitude rule our relationship, and we still hope that one day we can find the calm from within ourselves to make peace when we are together.

To be jealous of someone, is to lack the ability to see yourself as anything better, and I have found in life that the best thing you can hope to do is to always turn jealousy or envy, into admiration!

By admiring people we allow ourselves the chance to grow, not through imitation, but through leadership.

And not only that, but we leave room for the possibility that somewhere, someone else may just be admiring us!

Jealousy in a love relationship, simply means a lack of trust, and by the time jealousy becomes an issue, there is a whole lot more going on underneath signaling danger!

The other major threat to a relationship is judgement, and again the person we affect most with our own judgement is ourselves.

Until we learn to accept our own weaknesses, we will never forgive those in others.

I  have talked about happiness, and really the key to happiness is not just about your mind-set, but also about making the necessary adjustment in your attitude.

Positivity, they say, is a person who can see a glass of water and say “the glass is half full”, but I believe it to be far more complex!

It’s really about saying, “yes, the glass is half empty, it could have more water in it for sure, but I’m going to be happy with the amount I’ve got, and make the most I can out of it”! 😉

It’s about turning a “thunderstorm”, into a “fascinating climatic experience”, or a “bloody weak cup of coffee” into a “relaxing way to warm up”, lol!

It’s about making that small adjustment, to move yourself from one state into another.

To let go of fear, and embrace good sense and caution.

Eliminated jealousy, but admire as much as you can.

Don’t judge, but instead learnt to accept.

Destroy loneliness, by finding strength in independence.

And if all else fails, trust in the relationship you have with your animals 😉

Our relationship with horses is special, because it’s ours, and it is even.

He doesn’t judge us, or question us, and while he may frustrate us, he can teach us a lot about ourselves, and our ability to work through the tough issues.

20140617-183818-67098487.jpgA dog has an owner, a chief, a leader.

A cat has a slave, preferably more than one.

But a horse….has a partner, and we are lucky to share that partnership from on top of his back ;)!



20140617-183819-67099369.jpgSo my journey began on an Australian cattle farm, that turned into an Avocado farm, but that for me was always about the horses on the property… and of course the dogs.

I grew up with a pointer named Beron, but the top dog of my life is my (now my mum’s) Weimaraner Maddie (Midori), who is both wickedly clever and knowingly beautiful!

The avocado farm today is run by my sister Katrina and her GROWING family, but my mum is still top dog I’m sure, and has stayed on to watch over the farm as she enjoys training her imported Lusitano ALANCELOT!


The farm will always be my home, it is the place where I learnt to ride, and to dream!,

The Bluestone hut is still standing, the place that started it all…..

But I  have found a home in Portugal, and when people ask me if I am ever lonely i answer a definite no! I think that loneliness is a state of mind, just like boredom is inherent in boring people!

I have my two best friends in the world, training and working with me everyday, and with technology today I actually feel that my relationship with my mother in particular is as strong as ever.

Adopting the role of INTERNET TRAINER, I speak to my mum via Skype every night, and I find the conversations to be ALOT more rewarding than the ones you have when you are at home.

“dinner’s ready…did you get the mail?…. has been replaced by actually sit down, focused, in-depth discussions about my training, my life, her life, the farm etc…

People say technology has made us distant, but I would argue that it actually connects us and makes us more aware of this time, and more prepared to use it effectively!

So my journey in Portugal is never lonely, and the people I have met here have been exciting, passionate, hysterical, and talented, sometimes all at once!

The Portuguese mum, for example, of which I now have several, are like a cross between Martha Stewart and Donna hay, and I realised very early on why so many grown men still live with mummy!

My Portuguese journey is as much about the TRAINING as it is the horses, and so here is where my journey began, my very first classical training article, as I began my riding life in Portugal with the soon to be Olympian Gonçalo Carvalho Conchinhas.

Classical training…the beginning, click here

Photos above courtesy of Coudelaria Correia de Mendonça


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