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 ūüėČ
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!!!!!

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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.



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!!!!

Why Wait?

“Good things come to those who wait”

20140617-183811-67091143.jpgNOT TRUE!

This is just a line parents use on kids that won’t stop asking questions.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of random icecream deliveries, and no matter how long you wait you have to actually go to the store and pay for that piece of dairy goodness.

A few years ago, I spend most of the day waiting for the worst to happen.

That was a low point. Until one-day a very wise woman asked me if there really wasn’t something out there worth chasing.

The pursuit of happiness seemed like a start, and after that initial decision to be happy I soon invented new and far greater dreams.

I told mum that I would find a horse, and be the best in the world.

Today I realised just how far I’ve come, when yet again someone questioned my ability, and whether or not my dreams are realistic.

Regardless of whether I am on track to reach my goal, the fact that someone is questioning me, means at the very least that I’m being noticed.

Told again that my horse is too good for me, I was asked that perhaps it would be better if I were the owner of an Olympic horse, and I could make lots of money…

I said, what is money without a dream?

Even if I never make it, the pursuit of our dreams, is what it’s really all about, and considering I’ve been the only rider of my horse since he was four I must have done something right.

In life there are people who doubt us, but what this person didn’t realise is that every time sometimes tells me I can’t, I get that bit more determined to prove them wrong!

I was once told that my articles were pretty much a girl talking about her ponies, and when I had four people write to me yesterday to tell me how much they appreciate reading my work, I wondered what made them relate to what I say.

I am not in any stretch of the imagination the rider that say Carl Hester is, nor am I as inspirational as Nelson Mandela, or as poetic as  EE Cummings, but one thing I am is honest.

People relate and understand my articles, because I tell it like it is, and I admit that I screw myself up into a ball in the shoulder-in, and I bounce about and stick my tongue out in the sitting trot but, like them, I am willing to search for a new and better way to understand my horse, and for him to understand me!

Doubt is what ruins people. Don’t let others put doubt in your head.

If you doubt that you are good enough, you will never be. If you doubt that you can be there for someone else, you won’t be. Just decide what you want, what you will be, and be it.

Whether you want to be the best rider in the world, or the best rider in your one-horse stable, pick a goal and stick to it.

Even if you have a trainer, video yourself, and watch it, and ask yourself if you can do better.

If you see something that your trainer isn’t telling you, don’t just assume he must know better, ask him WHY he isn’t picking up on it.

Perhaps it is for your benefit, but perhaps it is because he thought you didn’t know enough, or cared enough, to fix it!

If you don’t have a dream yourself, make it your goal to help the dreams of others, and then take pride in the fact that you were part of something bigger than yourself.

So, here is the deepest secret nobody knows, here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud……

Don’t wait for someone to tell you what you can be, don’t doubt the thing that you want the most, pursue your own happiness above all else, because you can’t make anyone else happy, until you can be happy within yourself! :):)

Don’t wait for the icecream truck, go and get the icecream yourself ūüėČ

PYRO FREE Sporty Dressage Lusitano born 2007


Layers – Onion/Tomato…

With some people, the onion metaphor rings true, and you feel like the more you know them, the more layers you discover.

Others, are more like tomatoes, and if you peel back the skin you just end up with a big red sploggy mess that’s hard to manage.

20140617-183811-67091760.jpgThe onion people are the ones that teach us more about ourselves, because as we peel back their layers, so too do we reveal our own secrets.

Sometimes it takes an onion with courage, to tell another onion that it is ok to reveal a layer hidden, or perhaps two onions when put together find the confidence to reveal themselves to one another.

The tomatoes wish they were onions, and try to disguise themselves as such by adding fake layers, typically through chemical enhancement or deception.

On the other hand, some onions try to disguise themselves as tomatoes, and pretend to be less than they are.

This is usually because a tomato who very much wished they were an onion, put the onion down, and made them feel like they were nothing more than a tomato.

If you know an onion  that has happened to, remind them of what makes them special, that they are unique, that they have layers, and that the fascinating part about our world is that by discovering the layers of other people we discover who we are.

Horses too have layers, and while a horse may seem like a simple being, eat, sleep, poop etc, they in fact take in a lot more than most non horsey people would give them credit for.

As rider it’s our job to peel back the layers of our horses, and learn about them, so that we can help them to understand what we are asking.

Only when we understand the layers of our horse, can we unlock the key to his training success.

Many people now term me the Lusitano girl, because of course I ride two Lusitanos.

20140617-183811-67091891.jpgIn actual fact, I grew up riding warmbloods, and my favorite horse in history was a 14 hand high warmblood pony cross named Zen, who loved me just as much as I loved him.

Ask any of the top riders, judges, spectators, trainers, and they will tell you the same golden truth…

“A top horse, is a top horse, regardless of his breed.”

20140617-183811-67091821.jpgIt may be the son of a stock horse, crossed with an arab, but if it can move, and has the mind to try, then a good rider will peel back the layers, and produce something magical.


Technology….What is it to you?

Sometimes I wonder if technology really makes things faster, particularly when trying to figure out how to turn on the plasma tv, or getting mad at the microwave that won’t stop beeping at me….The food is ready, I’ve got the message..thanks!

20140617-183811-67091950.jpgTechnology for sure has made certain things easier, and I’m really not sure that I could be so far from home if I couldn’t “Skype ” my mum every night, and every morning.

She tells me of a time when you had to send letters by ship, and it could take up to 6 weeks to get your message across the Atlantic.

In that respect, technology has made my desire to ride horses overseas, far more accessible, and a lot less lonely.

Certified “Web Trainer” my mum is able to watch YouTube clips of me the same day I took the video, and I can reflect immediately on my training floors before facing the day ahead.

Technology has been the most help in the world of medicine, and after reading an article about a woman whose bionic arm can actually sense and feel what she is touching, I felt in awe of what research in these areas can produce.

The people who complain the most about technology, are usually the first to check the weather forecast, and while I do think that it makes kids anti-social, it also connects them in other less face to face, but perhaps far more communicative, ways.

We wonder now how we lived without Facebook, and admit it has gone a long way to abolish the token catch up conversation at parties, as now, the minute you arrive, you already know exactly where everyone is at, and what they are doing.

The older generation say they could live without technology, and then the power goes out, and I get a phone call from a pretty distressed relative who hasn’t been able to have her morning cup of tea!

So what is technology to you? Is it the latest game your addicted to? Is it your means of communicating with a long away home? Is it the annoying beep on the microwave oven, or the pale square-headed child you are raising who only talks in cyber speak?

What would your day be without it? Would you have more friends, or less friends, and would the depth of this friendship be deeper?

As a journalist, I certainly am not going to be a hero, and say I could live without it. If my email is down for half an hour i’m banging my head against the wall.

Watching Downton Abby, and I am reminded of the world those “old people” used to live in, when technology was still “those waves wafting about”, that Maggie Smith was so deathly scared of, ;).

I wonder, could we live in that world today?

20140617-171301-61981537.jpgIn the horse world technology has made little difference. It’s not like in swimming, where a split second touch monitor can determine the gold and silver medal, and no matter how many state of the art gadgets are created, our sport remains in the eye of the beholder.

UNTIL recently, when a panel was created to supervise the judging system, able to instantly replay a movement to check that the judge had in fact seen that the horse was late in the change, or stepped back in the halt.

Is this a good thing? Does it make judges more honest, or less likely to go with their gut and be the bold outlier?

The power of the mind!

The mind, it’s power to lift us up, or push us down, is beyond what we imagine possible.

20140617-171337-62017289.jpgMy dad used to tell me a story of how in Aboriginal times, there was one ritual, that portrayed the ability of man’s belief, and how a thought can be become a reality if our minds find it to be true!

The leader of the tribe would stand in the centre of a circle with an animal bone, and a tribal member who had committed a sin against his tribe would have the bone pointed towards him, signifying his doom!


So it was that within three days the man would die!


And I wondered as a little girl, did that bone really possess some evil power?

But no, it was the power of this mans own belief that he was doomed, that triggered his sudden demise.”

The horse, is a mind that I find fascinating…

Have you ever looked right into a horses eye, and asked yourself what he is thinking?

Why he lets up hop on his back, and ride around happily?

Why, when he could easily throw us off, he instead responds to a rein aid, one that he has learned over time to respect?

Horses are fascinating, and their role in my, and I’m sure many peoples lives, is something we may never truly appreciate nor understand.

Each horse is a personality, and I love asking the question, “If your horse was a person who would he be?”

Is he is a John Wayne, or a James bond, or is she a Marilyn or a Roxanne?

Whoever your horses are, you need to understand them, get to know them, to truly know what they are about!

Our relationship to the horse is different than with dogs or cats, not just because we ride them, but because of their curiosity.

Someone once told me, a dog looks up at you, a cat looks down on you, but a horse….. Looks you straight in the eye!

Training article, Who is the horse?


Throughout our entire lives we are put into boxes…

At school, it’s the nerds, the¬†musics¬†(band members), the smarts, the sporty/populars, whatever box you fit in, that is where you are put.

As life goes on the boxes don’t actually change, but can alter, as we choose our life path.

Some people have their own box and decide it is a box just for them, while others join a box with a mate, and make little people to fill up that box.

Even religion has a box…

Christians¬†believe¬†in god…

Agnostics believe they are not sure what to believe….

Atheists are certain they don’t believe..

Children and animals don’t need to worry, as they still believe in people!

It is therefore our job to look after our horses, earn their trust, and then RESPECT it!

I have recently been working on an article about horses and emotions, and the very rare occasions when a horse and rider pair become an US!

We know the ones, Gal and Totilas, Anky and Bonfire, Reiner Klimke and well almost all of his horses lol

It’s interesting to consider how often a rider buys a horse at GP level, and really creates something truly magical, or alternatively, a rider trains a horse to¬† EXCEL at GP level, and then once the horse is sold, it never produces that special something again!

In the world of dressage, everything fits in a box.

Judges sit in boxes, horses physically live in boxes, (lucky horses live in box-shaped paddocks), and horses are also emotionally put into different boxes.

Sensitive/Lazy, Lusitano/Warmblood, Hot/Calm, Friendly/Arrogant, we all know a horse of every type.

But how much of what a horse becomes is because of his environment, or even his RIDER?

We have all seen it, the rider that shies ten seconds before the horse does.

So how much of our personality is reflected in our horse.

Or how much of our own tension or relaxation, do we transmit to our horse on a daily basis.

Perhaps the true talent of an exceptional rider, is learning to harness their own power, creating a box free from the outside world pressures, a box that they share with just one other being… their horse!


20140617-203709-74229421.jpgWith the Olympic dressage taking over my world, I love writing about, and learning about, all the superstars of the dressage world, from the riders, farriers, grooms, vets, to the judges, and most importantly the HORSES!

Having recently had my first lesson with one of the WORLD’s top dressage Judges, Mariette Withages, I was more keen than ever to get myself to the top, and work together with my two horses to edge our way closer and closer to GP!
I found that the lesson, while incredibly rewarding, also gave me new direction, new motivation, new LIFE!

20140617-203709-74229488.jpgBut also watching the world’s top riders take to the London arena, rider’s like me, who aspire to one day be in the same position,feel not only the butterflies, but also the victories!

Now when I make the perfect change, or take flight across the arena in extended, I feel one step closer to where they are today, and know that even if I never get there, I have enjoyed every minute of the journey….

Riding dressage for me, is not about the test, but about the training, it‚Äôs like teaching a child to walk, or a dancer to flow with the rhythm…

Every small success I have, I feel stronger, my horses feel proud of their own accomplishments, and when I put them in the box, they look to me knowing they have deserved that extra apple!

The great thing about our sport, is we learn everyday in steps, because we learn with a partner, an equal, and what other sport is there where two entities must work so closely, so intimately, in pursuit of their ultimate goal!


Full article on Lesson with Mariette Withages will be up on Eurodressage after London!

The Olympic excitement, also got me thinking about training for different conditions, and made me wonder how much time our top riders must put into planning for the ‚Äúwhat could happens?‚ÄĚ……

See article here on the topic…. ‚ÄúThe Things We Can‚Äôt Control!‚ÄĚ


This blog is about how I feel when… I drink a Portuguese coffee…

I watch a Horseball match..which is pretty much polo on crack!

I am trapped in a room listening to a child play the recorder…

But in terms of a ¬†horseriders feelings and emotions, these are defined very much by how the ride went that day…

I was thinking that I feel very sorry for the husbands/wives/girlfriends/dogs…etc etc, of horsey people, as after a bad ride they behave much like a football fan who has just lost the match of the season…

The other reason I feel sorry for the significant others, is they are constantly getting left behind….
20140617-183811-67091143.jpgHAVE YOU EVER seen a horse person walking at a normal speed. Horse people walk like wind up toys, and can often be seen marching off in different directions, finding it extremely difficult to actually walk as a pair with anyone!

Horses emotions, on the other hand, are dominated by two things….herd instinct, and their STOMACH….

When a rider says the horse is having a bad day, chances are it is either feed time, OR, the rider is having a bad day and of course it’s the horses fault! lol

Just remember…riding is a game of patience, and just like HUMANS, everyone has their days, and their….


Photos above courtesy of Coudelaria Correia de Mendonça


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