Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Day 28: Wednesday with ex-racers and cracking bones

Car alone with these guys!

They are very soppy and lovely really :)

Good day today, I dragged my ancient laptop with me to the yard today to get things done between the lessons because there are a couple of little online projects I am working on at the moment and I am usually too tired to sit to them after whole day out and about.

Further work with the lovely ex-racers today and an intro session for a new client with a very nice little warmblood mare.

The lovely grey boy I teach had chiro appointment today because he struggles with schooling work. He's about 11 weeks out of racing and doing very well in the grand scheme of things but it's always better to look after posture before muscular issues change the bones to the point of no return.

If you would like to see the video from the session, check Aspire's blog tomorrow as I will be posting a blog post about it. I haven't seen Equine McTimoney Chiropractor in action before so it was very interesting to witness. I am very curious of how this session is reflected in the horse's way of going next week. He's got a follow up appointment in 2 weeks too.

Full video coming on Aspire's blog tomorrow

Grey boy was found to be in no pain but needs attention due to very strong one-sidedness. Something that all ex-racehorses I worked with have in common. I suppose it depends on the way they are trained with not much attention if any given to their natural crookedness (although I have seen race horses in Norway being schooled in the arena as part of their racing training...)

Grey boy is 8 years old and out of a well known national hunt yard. I think he has something really special about him. Considering he's shown some superb work despite his postural difficulties says it all. I can't wait to see him out competing but it's better to be patient than over excited.

Grey boy in the morning session today. Check out Alfie the cat photobombing ;) 
The other racing boy was unsettled today, showed some great work but also some less good efforts. It's so much down to mental state with these guys, physically they often give the rider way more than any other horse but mentally they can be volatile.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Day 27: London and Horse Business 2015

I am listening to the above webinar at the moment and just making a short break to say hello :) It's been a great day teaching in London, I hauled numerous poles covered in slugs into the arena for some cavaletti fun. Dragging the stuff around sure keeps you warm ;) We had a brilliant sunshine today actually, one of those fresh, bright days that were invented especially for riders.

For novice and intermediate riders, cavaletti give purpose to many arena figures and make riders aware of various details that they might otherwise miss - like losses of rhythm, energy, impulsion.

My plan is to spice up February a little and introduce regular Barebruary elements to the winter lessons ;) We started already two weeks ago with some riders and continued today - nothing gives the rider a better feel than taking the saddle off for parts of the lesson...

I then spent the evening working on one of my little projects which I will tell you about very soon!

If you would like to watch the webinar I mentioned at the beginning, here is the LINK to it.

Until tomorrow :)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Day 26: Vlogging with Joker and random thoughts on training

Some believe in reading illnesses from hair, pictures, animals taking to them and the likes. I don't. I do, however, think some people have learnt to observe the signs most of us ignore, then acquired the knowledge to interpret those signs with varied level of accuracy.
In my little vlog from this morning, I filmed certain sign on purpose. You can see me placing my hand on various spots on Joker's neck - I am not pressing at all, simply holding my hand on his coat, not even touching the skin much. I know he has some level of tension in his neck from the way he moves but by his reaction you can see clearly when I discovered his problem spot. 
Notice that he doesn't react much to normal grooming, or even patting, he is a little weary (check his facial expression, ears and position of the head) and also watchful as another horse in the field is playing with fencing (and eyeing up my camera which I had rested on the post). However, when my touch changes into searching touch, he doesn't want me there. It's quite a normal reaction of any prey animal, he knows I know he has a weakness there so he tries to shake me off. 

This and many other observations are the key to me when working with any horse. My routine with Joker is a good all-round, non-manipulative, relaxing massage that isn't complicated and any horse owner can learn it. Once I'd run my hands over the points he fidgets at, I repeat again, this time stopping for longer and waiting him out. He relaxes to the point he has a snooze for a couple of minutes and then we start in the arena. 

Today was the third time I worked with him and he is learning quickly that he isn't allowed in my personal space. Thanks to this I can suggest to him how he can position his body in a more gymnastic way as he works on a large oval. If I wasn't next to him, he would happily fall onto his inside shoulder and moved with his neck braced to the outside on the right rein and drifted out on the left rein. His natural crookedness, reinforced by chronic issues, governs him strongly at the moment so he isn't enjoying the work as much as he could. Keeping myself very close I can influence his posture better although I haven't asked for much yet. 

I liked his attitude today. He had a couple of moments when he tested the purpose behind my actions but was otherwise obedient and tried hard to do his part. 
It's not my aim to simply make him go around better, I want him to enjoy it and discover more comfortable way of moving. He pushes much stronger through right side of his pelvis too which makes elastic turning difficult for him. 
His jog had more spring today and he offered bigger trot by himself towards second part of the session. Sadly, the rain started to fall and I had to hide my camera so no video of the better set. 

I want him to move with less bracing through the neck on the ground before I get on him so the next session will be polework and then jog sets again focusing on lateral bending, softer, lower neck and deeper over step. 

Now, I've got to cook some pasta for dinner and then evening book work for me so until tomorrow!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Day25: Habits and changes

Videos from yesterday's and today's sessions all processed, notes made, feeling productive ;) On main photo is my teenage rider on Foundation Programme. Very excited about her progress, lovely young rider. 

It was a working Sunday for me this week and I am now questioning what on earth was I thinking starting this 365 days blogging challenge as all I want right now is to hit the pillows! Euphemism for going to sleep in case you thought I was angry at my pillows or something in those lines.

I do know what I was thinking though: I wanted to kickstart my daily writing habit. It's like brushing ones teeth, once you develop a habit life seems odd without it. The most powerful tool to success - a habit.

My late afternoon and evening was spent over my notebooks. I am starting to see the benefits of these little daily analysis sessions.
I decided to tweak my coaching services a little. I want to stop offering my Intensive Training Days for riders from outside of the programmes and focus my simulator sessions on certain dates. The Training Days are good to run but in reflection, I enjoy them mostly with my regular clients. They do have more sense when I know what points I want to work on and how an intensive session can add to the rider's tool kit.
I will still run my simulator sessions and seat training for non-programme riders as I have been as those are very specific, great fun and a challenge at the same time. They are very good for making significant changes in the seat biomechanics which I very much enjoy.

This move will allow me to make the training days more attractive price wise to my programme riders and to generally align the Academy's coaching goals with the value of continuity. More about it soon.

For now, night night :)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Day 24: Drama and addiction!

At first it's just "oh damn"...

Then it's remembering all the things you now can't do. Like inform about any possible delays. Be informed about any possible delays. Can't make the notes you planned to make. Can't check train timetable.
Then, the feeling of anxiety and stress that is completely unnecessary by all means of rational thinking. Triple tiredness from aforementioned stress and anxiety. Realisation, I can't take an important message I was waiting for. I can't listen to the podcasts I had scheduled to listen to today.

So yes. At first it's just "oh damn, I forgot my phone"..two steps later, life is really turning upside down. I am totally addicted to my phone(s) and I very well know it! Today was a stressful day ;)

Except of the lessons - these went without stress and yet again I am super happy with my lovely riders, they progress well :) 

Just in case you were wondering I have two phones. One is an actual phone, - small, lightweight little device that actually works when I need it to work by graciously having the network signal at most rural, semi-rural and built up areas. It has a battery life of about a week - yes a week! When it is nearing its life cycle it communicates clearly numerous times before eventually running out of patience after 5-6 hours (!) and popping to sleep.
Then I have an ancient smart phone with battery life of an egg, battery low warning signal that is almost non-existent and a network signal that goes more often than it comes. However, it has the world wide web at the reach of my fingers and an array of podcasts that I love listening to when travelling.
I need both of these guys to function in my out and about lifestyle and I forgot them BOTH this morning.

I almost needed counselling at the end of the day. It's not remotely funny.

Woody understand me. He feels the same about his tennis ball. 
Now, just so this whole post is not all about my shameful addiction to phones, does any of you out there read Spinal Column by Melanie Reid in The Times? I've been following Melanie's story almost since she'd started writing post her riding accident in 2010. She sure puts a lot of things in perspective ...In today's column she recollects her notes from her riding lessons. She says "If nothing else, I suppose, my notes are the summation of my riding hobby, shows passion and commitment. It doesn't mean I was good, but it does mean I continually tried to get better[...] For better or worse, I have started taking progress notes again, I need urgently to rekindle the fire, for I have learnt the scary truth of "use it or lose it"[...]"

Until tomorrow!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Day 23: Finding the barriers

Take a deep breath as you look at that picture. Can you sense that wonderful, sharp freshness of the air that hurts your lungs and throat just a little bit but you can't wait to inhale again? That's how it was this morning indeed. My kind of office ;)

Vet's decision on Jo-Jo is to carry on with our remedial schooling month. He is starting to get the scheme and lets me move his legs into different positions without bracing each time. Slow, gentle relaxation movements like this let him tell me straight away if anything hurts too much to bare and I can stop immediately.

He enjoys the little massage rather a lot now too and was horizontal from relaxation today. In the arena, I am mainly observing and learning where I can push and when I need to back off. We need him to work out a better way of moving and that means finding out where the barriers are and moving them an inch at a time.
His pattern right now is to work well, then over-react at something, face me, plant his feet and either change direction or refuse to move. I am letting him work out he can't have it that way with me so it takes some time as I have to wait him out on some occasions.
I follow the thinking of making the right thing easy and the unwanted thing difficult. He is a clever horse and I can see he is getting the idea. He is also stubborn and likes things his way at times so I have to be careful not to start a battle with no winners.

Some more thoughts and pondering time on the Academy's structure and logistics for me today. Sometimes we get on with day to day tasks without letting the mind wonder about bigger picture often enough. At first, it feels like I am staring at the white wall wondering about my sanity but the more I stare, the more details seem obvious - you know, like little cracks in paint work, small pattens, brush strokes, uneven surface here and there.
I can't say I can see the brick work beneath yet ;) but some ideas are forming!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Day 22: Keeping up with the Joker

Everything about Joker's movement today was slightly better than on Monday. His reaction to a simple massage technique I use with him was also more positive. However, the owner finally managed to get hold of his full health history from previous vet clinic so we shall see what the current vet thinks is the best course of action in light of those documents - whether to continue with original plan of 30 days remedial work and medications or to start with a more diagnostic approach earlier.

For those interested, here is some information about the type of injury he suffered several years ago:

I'd spent most of the afternoon and evening on my laptop working on the book and on organising next month's lessons plans for my non-horse owning clients. Although I am tempted to keep on working on the book at the moment, I also want to be off the computer before midnight. Sometimes it's difficult to find a good solution to my creative side wanting to work at night and my reason telling me to grab some healthy amount of sleep.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Day 21: One thing that can make or break a lesson

There is one simple thing that I discovered for myself throughout my teaching career - horses work best when they feel that your purpose is to help them understand.
I am sure many trainers before me and many riders have experienced that too but no matter how many times you are told something, it is not until it really speaks to you in a language of a light bulb moment, that you truly get it. 

At first, I thought it only really worked for me when I schooled horses myself but with time I noticed that horses feel this attitude very well when I am just standing on the ground. 

One of the fab horses I had a pleasure to work with today

Today, I read someone asking what makes a good instructor. So many things. So many. And yet, right now, from all the skills I acquired and from all the ones I am yet to learn, I would say the most crucial one is the simple, open-minded willingness to help improve understanding. 
You might be the king of exercises, the queen of tricks, the jack of all trades and all that but if you just enter the arena and with your first touch on the horse's neck as you chat with the rider, you think "hey, how can I help you understand your rider better today?", the horse knows things are going to be just fine. And good stuff happen when horses are in that frame of mind. 

When you teach you can't control the rider's emotions, mistakes, trials and their own battles. You can't control horse's responses to all the above. 
And yet, amazing things can happen if you bring the element of a quiet, positive confidence of that purpose of help. Some horses "go most relaxed they have ever been", "least spooky", "so attentive today", "really working with me today"...

I think a really great coach can make the rider feel like they truly can make mistakes and learn and become understood as well as make the horse feel like everything is going to be just fine. 

I don't know how to put just one name to that quality. Skill of Leadership? Knowledge? Confidence? I think about it as of being open to learning from the horse and wanting to help them understand the lesson at the same time. 
Polishing that skill is a great, ongoing challenge.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day 20: The few things they don't tell you when you go self-employed

My very professional office and a not-at-all bored assistant
There are things they tell you will be hard and difficult when going self-employed. Things like tax returns and daily accounts and receipts and expenses and working 24/7. In some respect, they are right. These, however, are the easier of the difficult things. They are mostly all written into neat guidelines, endless websites, articles or even recorded on videos for all those who seek to find and learn.

Here are a few details they might not mention.

They don't tell you that when you do what you love doing you will always feel odd charging for it.
They don't tell you that if you seem like you love every working minute, you might be expected not to charge too much for that work.
They don't tell you that there will be some clients who will cost you more to provide your services for than you will receive for the service, be it in time or monetary currency - they will also often be those clients who you enjoy providing your services the most to.
They might tell you, but you will most likely choose not to hear this, that everything you do "in the business" must make it financially viable.

As I mentioned in my 2015 Goals post earlier this month, this year is very much a make or break for my little enterprise. It has to become as absolutely viable way to pay for my life (now and in my future as a crippled old lady) as possible. There are many ways of pursuing coaching career and working with horses. At some point one has to be honest with oneself. If my business skills don't match up to my equestrian skills, there is no chance for my own programme to be the sole income driver.

As I would hate the biz part to stay in a way of how I would like to live my life, I am spending time on analysing what costs what, how viable it is, what to do next and how to stay on the surface long term.
It's not that easy at all.

Evening invite for snacks and coffee :) 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Day 19: Frosty, sunny Monday

Very gentle mobility/relaxation movements where the horse can stop whatever hurts or is uncomfortable at any time

Horse language in all its complexity is really quite simple - as long as we learn to observe and listen, we will probably hear everything we need to know. There is knowledge required to interpret what we see and hear for sure but many a time, signals are clear. 
Today was my first morning working with Joker one to one. I spent some time with him just going through the body work/massage I have learnt as it's good at finding tension areas in horse's body. 
Relaxation is the key with rehab horses. 

We had a glorious, sunny morning, just a touch of frost but it's always easier to layer up for dry cold than icy downpours. After handling all of Joker's legs I was rather warm! 
Work wise I gone back to basic groundwork just finding out his push points and keeping everything comfortable until he has more trust in me and let me cross some discomfort boundaries. 

All Joker's shoes are off and my hooves obsession kicked in immediately. There are some interesting points about his hooves which correspond with the way he uses himself so I might take some sole shots to keep track of any changes.

My afternoon rider on Foundation programme rode the best yet, my train on way home was only 20 min delayed (ok, I'll skip how freaking freezing it was at the station ;)), I de-frosted in a super scented bath and got myself a decent to-do list for tomorrow. I class that as a pretty ok day :) 

Until tomorrow!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Day 18: The charm of hotels, books and Avocado Bath Bombs

Rest day today so get ready for total randomness of thought.

Question: do you think spending time in hotel lobbies, having tea or coffee in their comfy armchairs, reading, writing, sorting through things...can be considered a hobby? If so, I am quite taken with it. The problem with many Coffee Shops at the weekends is that they are magically transformed into crèches and/or teen show rooms which as endearing as it might be for some, it really doesn't create much in terms of a creative environment as I crave it.
Hotels on the other hand...they have just the right amount of buzz and goings-on without additional distractions. Love them.
An additional bonus is that they don't close early on Sundays!

If you are into genetics (and/or epigenetics) and you haven't yet read the Inheritance by Sharon Moalem - go and grab it, I think you would love it. I forgot to mention it earlier but I have finished it and it was one of the best non-fiction books I have read (if not the best). It reads a bit like a video documentary! There is not a boring moment in an entire book.

In my teens I was fascinated with genetics, admittedly animal genetics - mainly dogs and horses. If I had a teacher like Sharon during my bio-chemistry focused high school who knows what I would be up to now! ;)

My current non-horsey reading is a little book titled Cider with Rosie which I got from a friend. I shall report on it when done.

I've been mostly trying not to do much work related tasks on the rest day but I failed on that today. I find it almost impossible to switch off, hopefully it will become easier to do so with time. It's possibly rather important to have a brain space saved for other areas of life, right now most of my brain cells must have a shape of a horse's head ;)

Oh, and this lovely, incredibly scented bath bomb awaits its sizzle time tomorrow I had a Lush gift card left from Christmas and finally popped to the shop to redeem it. The whole room smells of this stuff right now ;)

My internet connection is very fragile tonight so I am going to press publish before it dies.
Until tomorrow :)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Day 17: Superb day on all fronts :)

Teaching in London today. So very happy with all my riders, just uploaded the videos and got them organised so I don't end up with a backlog as that's almost impossible to catch up with considering the amount of footage I take.
I also like the riders to watch the videos as soon after the training as possible when all movements are still fresh on their minds (and bodies) as I feel that's when visual feedback is most effective.

I would love to chat some more today but I am pretty knackered so will just show you a little snippets from today :)

I hope the weekend is treating you well wherever you are :) How's your winter riding going?
All the best and speak tomorrow!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Day 16: Meet Joker, quick musing on equestrian fashion and other thoughts of the day

Meet Joker. A horse that is very easy to like :)

Joker being trotted up for the Vet this morning by Helen, his owner
Jo-Jo as I call him is an 8 year old Warmblood gelding. I am helping the owner to rehabilitate Joker's movement issues so I thought I would introduce you as I will probably mention him quite a bit in this daily blogging adventure.

We started together in July last year with brining Joker and Helen back to work as they had both been off for a long while due to injuries/health issues. It was a very slow process in various weather conditions, arena issues etc etc but we were making progress.

August 2014
In the autumn, Helen moved Joker to a yard with very good facilities and this has helped a lot with our ability to schedule regular training sessions.
Joker isn't lame as such i.e. as the vet would call it "isn't lame enough to nerve block" but he has a chronic, ongoing mechanical issues that stem most likely from an injury he sustained 4 years ago to one of his hindlegs. As a result, he has a rigid way of going with lack of engagement or any sort of effort from his back end.

Helen and Joker - 25th October 2014
In October 2014 we started having some really nice, more supple trot work and introduced canter work. By November he was getting stronger and his rhythm improved well. I was pleased but with the work we were doing, I would expect him to show more changes to his action.

At the end of November 2014 Joker spooked while out hacking and made his way back "home" at very unsuitable speed and manner that was really not ideal for a horse in rehab. Following that incident his movement deteriorated to near the starting point back in July and he was moved to a yard with 24/7 turnout to rest and have more out time.

Several weeks later, the decision was made to try to investigate what was going on. We now have a plan of action for the next 30-40 days and I really hope he responds well to his medications, supplement, physiotherapy sessions and rehab schooling.

I will start working him myself from Monday so if you would like to follow Joker's rehab journey, stay tuned. Helen hopes to find him a loving, hacking home if/when he becomes sound enough to be sold. Despite the incident out and about, he is a fabulous hack when ridden in company and although wouldn't suit a novice/first time owner, he is a lovely "person" to be around. Keep your fingers crossed for this chap!

Now just a cheerful note on equestrian fashion trends! I can't quite believe I am saying this because I generally avoid wearing anything horse-related in my non-working life simply because I think spending 99% of one's life with horses warrants other elements in that last 1% ;)

However, I seem to have turned into an equestrian fashion supporter somewhat without even realising!

Well, you see, I love my long leather boots (they are not riding boots ;) but don't own skinny jeans. The black jods seem to do a rather good job replacing those jeans. Also, I own many more pairs of jods and breeches than trousers (actually I have a grand total of one pair of jeans) so since everyone is walking around with knee pads and full seat jods as their normal wear, I am officially giving up the fight and joining in ;)

Until tomorrow!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Day 15: Learning the modern ways of word of mouth

When riders find me it's either because someone I teach recommended me to them or they found me via my coaching blog and website. The former much outweighs the latter but I have met some rather wonderful people thanks to that blog.

If not for my Aspire blog I would not have just signed up a rider from South America ( if I ever hear from anyone they struggle with travelling to do something they apparently really want to do I will have to assume they didn't really want that in the first place), I would probably never have met Maria from Norway who has been organising some of my most amazing clinics in Norway (strictly speaking we met via this very blog) and many other opportunities may have never materialised.

After all, what really is a word of mouth if not a trust and feeling that something or someone is on the same wavelength as we are, the belief that what they do might be useful for us and that we feel connected on some levels.

The above are the reasons why I personally like reading blogs over other online presences. They come with a personal stamp of genuine camaraderie which, after reading them for a longer period of time, as if you are meeting for a coffee and a chat with an old friend.

So. Today I'd been doing quite a bit of writing (I wrote two new posts for Aspire blog: 1. The Herd of Aids? - visual and thinking experiment to improve your effectiveness in the saddle   2. How one little ex-racehorse won Olympic gold jumping 1.9m (6ft2in) oxers and 4.60m (15ft) wide water jump… as well as put in a few hours on The Book.

However, the main job for me for the next few months as far as the online world goes is to learn more about the Internet's word of mouth - the SEO...and whatever else I need to know.

Therefore I don't have any more to share with you today other than: wow, this stuff couldn't be more boring! ;) I decided to learn at least the basics and as well as watching You Tube videos on the subject I'd been recommended to read the MOZ 's resources. And this is what I'd been doing.

If any of you guys reading this can point me towards other resources that can help me make Aspire blog more visible in the ocean of websites in the world of Bites, please do share!

:) Until tomorrow! Have a great day!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Day 14 when I tell you my main Goals for 2015...including the book updates...

It's twenty five minutes to midnight at the moment and since I am just starting to write you are likely to read this post on Thursday 15th January the earliest. It so happens that my mind likes the small hours of the morning to tell my fingers how best to tap the keyboard. I don't have to be up early tomorrow so I am letting this owl habit of mine control me. 

Let's roll with it.  

A question for you. What if you could write your own life..? Chapter by chapter, creating the past, the presence and the future born entirely out of your very own imagination? The more ideas you had, the more you would experience and gone though in your book...The more you dared to create in your mind, the more would indeed happen...So, if you could, would you? And if so, what would you write? What genre would it be? Who would want to buy it? What message would it have? 

My this year's goals are an experiment with a Coelho-esque twist. I want to test if the universe really conspires in response to my purposeful actions. Just a little test, you know, why not? ;) 

I thought that for a start I will just put my goals into words in a way that suggests they actually already if I was writing this not in January but in December 2015. Some say, picturing things as if they had already been achieved builds your confidence and belief that you can make stuff happen. Then there are others who say this might make you lazy as hell and not bothered about putting effort in since all is done...;) 

I thought I would humour the former and just test how it would feel to think (and write) in reverse. 

Let's really roll now.

Back in January I knew this year ought to see me finally making definite decisions about work. Although I have a wonderful emotional support from my boyfriend and my family, when it comes to the job with horses,ebeing able to sustain my livelihood, I am very much on my own. I mention it because this fact is a driving force behind everything that happen(ed) in 2015 and what motivated me to set certain goals and plan for certain things to happen. 

Since I chose to walk my own direction in coaching career, I can't rely on tried and tested processes and follow pathways already prepared by others. That's all right with me. 

So, do you want to know what goals I fulfilled in 2015? ;) Here they no particular order...

  • I finished the second draft of my book. As some of you know, this blog used to have many more posts which I removed a couple of years ago and started putting everything into a story...While converting my random thoughts into some form of a continuous storyline, I came to the conclusion that the book I really wanted to write was altogether different to what I had been creating. Fast forward to mid 2014, I wrote what can only be called a very bad first draft of a riding manual. On a good note, the content was finally exactly what I wanted to write. This year, I set aside 7 hours a week to work on making that first draft into a reasonably well structured piece. 
The working title is boring, simply "Ride, Train and Teach with Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy". It will be a grand job to come up with a good one I reckon :-/ Maybe you can help me decide on one when the time comes :) 
The outline follows the programmes as they exist in my "real" Aspire Academy and so contains the following sections: Start, Foundation, Development, Performance and BHS/Coach Training). I have included many of my awareness building exercises and imageries alike the amazingly popular post on Aspire blog about the "forward thinking hand" which was initially in the book but I wanted to see whether it was something more riders find useful. I also wanted to see if I could put things in words well enough for them not to be completely misconstrued. That post has had several thousands of views in the first 10 days. If all these readers bought my book I would be over the moon ;) 

Each of the sections also has "...Meanwhile On The Blog" [working title] chapters which is where the blog posts ended up being, creating recollections of my own experiences, situations, people, horses, huge mistakes and small successes. 

To sum up, the second draft is now on the second level of ridiculously messy and as such just about ready and bearably embarrassing to be "friends tested"...I am delusionally excited about publishing it ;)  As per today I am still planning to self-publish but a crazy thought about conventional publishing entered my mind...
  • I won the financial game and found sustainable model that allows me to make a decent living out of what I love doing. 
This is probably my biggest achievement this year. I made some changes to my work logistics and introduced new courses in 2014 which led to a more predictable earnings throughout 2015. 

Although I have always managed to survive on my freelancing, it's never been a lifestyle for the light-hearted. There were days with £5.30 on my bank account, snow outside the windows and no work for days (and no money to get to work...). There were days when after leaving house at 5am I was back at midnight to start at 5am again. I would hear people say "ohh this month is really hard, I am totally broke" and then spending £100 on their food shop. The definition of "broke" can be very different to different people indeed...;) There were many crazy situations that I will leave for the book but this little snippet of information might give you a better idea of why finally finding a sustainable business model for my coaching means so much to me. 

  • I quadrupled the audience on my coaching blog, helped many riders out there with their riding issues and made the blog worth monetizing.
Creating income from my coaching blog has been on my mind for a while but I have never liked the idea of charging the readers via membership site or similar. The online advertising possibilities are immense nowadays, however, and so my efforts this year were on creating a space where certain brands would want to come to. There is an overwhelming amount of websites and forums out there and it will be tricky to attract companies wanting to part with their media budgets but I had put a lot of effort into Aspire's blog content this year and I am confident is has a pretty well defined audience of horse wellness focused, improvement driven riders that many awesome brands might want to connect with. 
Monetizing my coaching blog has one aim: create a budget for ongoing improvements in Aspire's services namely: securing better and better horses, facilities and number of places for many more riders as well as letting me invest in my own coaching education. 

All the hard work on the Aspire blog paid off as I now have three fabulous brands purchasing advertorial and advertising spaces on the blog on regular basis not only brining me an additional income but also providing my readers with a valuable content in its own right! 

  • I found a lovely yard whose owner is interested in having me based on-site. The yard is in Greater London, has good facilities allowing outside horse owners to come to me for lessons as well as letting me take on horses for training. I am able to help with the existing livery business in return for livery for my own horse(s). It's close to my current London base which makes it possible for me to teach all my non-owners clients without wasting too much time on travel. 
Quite in love with that goal ;) I have not really believed it would happen this year but you know, that universe being on one's side theory has something in it! Now I just need to find a couple of horses for myself to bring on and the 2016 should be the year when I finally go back to competing myself! 

  • I regularly practised filming exercises and describing them on camera in order to continue building Aspire Equestrian Video Library.  I am starting to be able to put my ideas into concise and easy to understand concepts that make for a acceptable video tutorials. 
Well, let me tell you, this goal was hard to work on and even harder to achieve. Talking to the camera used to paralyse me and made me forget everything I know. I'd filmed several tutorials in 2014, some for my online clients (for riders on Aspire Virtual programme) and a couple for my newsletter and slowly became able to remember that a horse is called a horse. I can now keep the flow of my thoughts without re-taking the scene 1000 times as well as gained some skill at structuring the video content so it's engaging and inspirational as well as educational. 
  • I helped many riders fall in love with equestrian sport that is ethical, horse wellness centred and focused on rider's skills. 
This is very much an ongoing goal that governs all my other career plans and aims. If I ever fail at achieving this goal, all the others above are worthless. This year has been awesome and allowed me to be part of riding adventure of many wonderful people. 
There are many trainers out there who want to train horses and give them a great future but if there is no increase in numbers of sympathetic, knowledgeable riders who will buy these horses, the hard work put into equine education will be wasted. 
Every single person can learn the basics of a good seat. Sometimes it takes longer to get there but that's not the reason to skip the learning steps. This year I helped over 50 more riders to enjoy that learning process and that's what made this year very special indeed. 

So there you go. These are my main career goals for 2015 in a fantasy world of "make believe" where I had already achieved them all. It was interesting to write them in this format and I really do recommend this mental exercise to anyone who finds their goals enormous and beyond reach.

I have a few aims connected to my "non-horsey life" and some of them I will share a little bit of as they happen :) 

Until tomorrow :) 
[It's nearly 2am now :-/ ]