Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Off Roading

Snapped on rainy walks
It's now been a little over 6 months since my return to full-time coaching activities and as always, there are things to be pleased with, things to learn from, things to never repeat and various ones in between.
You know, one thing that will probably never change is that, if you try to do something nobody else does (or you don't know many who does it) you also have nobody to ask for advice on certain aspects of your activities. That's why I titled this post "off-roading" because to me, 90% of the time everything feels like going off-piste with no sat nav and just a self-made map in my head. On a good note, and that's where internet comes in handy, there are many "off-roaders" in other industries and walks of life which is somewhat comforting ;)
I'm being asked regularly if I don't miss training few hours a day now that I've been riding very infrequently and even to my surprise the answer is not that much...It seems that it's enough for me to re-focus my obsessions and I am fine ;) At the end of 2011 I was desperate to ride a lot again. It was an incredible, driving goal and when I have that kind of goal I do anything in my powers to make it happen. And I did. Now, the road map changed. I feel like my observations skills have improved immensely after being able to watch 30 plus lessons a week (some 1.200 lessons in total ;) on advanced horses and riding them few hours a day. There is still so much I want to be able "to see" but one step at a time...Patience is another skill that I feel is developing more and more as I go.

I had to make a few difficult decisions in the last 6 months. I know I wouldn't be able to make those decisions if not for the kick ass lessons I received in the last couple of years so part of me is glad it wasn't all for nothing!
What I learnt is that it really is extremely toxic to be surrounded with people who do not share the same vision or whose priorities differ largely from your own. Someone once sent me this quote that very simply read "never put someone first who puts you second". In my romantic lullaby of an arty soul state I somewhat always imagined this to be about actual partnership with your loved one and never gave it much application to everyday life but in its simplicity, the little quoty wisdom can actually transcendent so many situations on so many different levels that I feel thoroughly stupid for not noticing that before.

Snapped on rainy walk
And so the realisation finally arrived in this "make everyone happy" brain of mine that when one person can't think straight from stress and worry, the other might be having a scented bath/a party/a morning 30min tea ritual/[enter another me-time thing here] before bothering to get in touch. Or perhaps they forget to let you know about a change of plans. Or forget to turn up when they should. Etc. The funniest realisations of all was that this is ok. We all need to find the right environment and right people in which and with whom to off-road with excited grin on our faces and we have to arrive at the decision moment sooner or later.

I have always admired people who stay true to themselves and don't let themselves be boxed and labelled, categorised and limited. For some reason it is hugely important to me and perhaps one day I shall find out why. I am guessing we all find safety and comfort in different things. Some of us get it when sliding their feet into warm, fuzzy slippers for the weekend, some from partying until the death of the brain cells and some in never truly knowing what's coming next.

The seasons are turning. I love the change but as always winter months are a worry. The leaves are staring to fall which made me think the American word for autumn, Fall, is very apt indeed. I dislike the commercial drive to speed the process up though and find it so ironic that signs of economic prosperity should be seen via Christmas adverts on pub doors..in August.

Random thoughts draw to close :) I have a lot to do and decent amount of writing tasks to finish today too so I will pop now. If you off-road your life in whatever sphere and blog about it let me know so I can expand my reading list!

Speak soon,
Wiola

Snapped on rainy walk

Monday, 11 August 2014

Night time blogging, receiving goodies, filming tutorials etc

I am not sure why that is but I do enjoy writing on here late in the evenings or at night time as it happens right now. It has always been like this ever since starting this blog. At the beginning, it was mostly due to the fact I would be back home after 10pm or 11pm and by the time I had some dinner it was bed time. It seemed rather unfair to have no other life-time than travelling and working so I extended my "days" by writing.
The funny thing about writing a blog (and if you write one or write a diary of sort please do let me know if you feel the same) is that it becomes a big part of your life and not writing about the daily happenings somehow feels as if they didn't happen. Now I made it sound a bit like an obsessive Facebook posting where if you didn't post a photo on Facebook from your holidays then you may have never actually been on one but it's not quite like this. I have written more posts on here that have stayed as drafts and never been read by anyone but me than those that are published - writing organises the chaos of thoughts in my head.

Hugs for my wonderful Mum - she is the best :) 
Thankfully the last week since I wrote had been a good one, nothing too backward have happened (to which I am quite used to since most good things come with a damn wrapping of difficulties) and so the delusional optimism has been happily spreading its wings. To my delight, my dearest Mum sent me a little parcel with some clothes and a magazine which for a nomad living on one suitcase does feel like the biggest shopping trip of the century ;) Thank you Mum!

[My Mum asked me what "selfies" were so I explained it was basically trying to fit yourself into the camera view balancing said camera with one hand. Now that she knows she wants me to send many of those - sigh]

Now, on a more serious front, the new yard continues to develop and I am really looking forward to working out from it very soon.
I have some interesting new guest bloggers who will write a series of posts on Aspire blog which I am very much looking forward to also. One is Science Supplements who will write a series of educational posts about health of competition horses (also older horses and grassroots horses) and a young journalist - Alice-Rose Brown, who is building her writing portfolio and will share thoughts of her battle with confidence. If you are interested in either, do check out the links :)

I am also preparing Aspire's next Newsletter which will go out on the 14th. One part of it will be a little video tutorial which I filmed with the help of one my lovely clients and which will be simply a video reply to a question by another rider who trains with me during Aspire clinics.

Sneaky peak at the video frames - can you guess what was the rider's question? 
Many more tutorials coming up once the new base is fully up and running! Sadly, my trusty, wonderful Panasonic camcorder died of unknown disease and I am currently left with my old iPhone and it's limited quality. Hopefully the content will be good enough for the viewers to forgive the form.

Now I better hit the pillows, it's 01:25 at this very moment and I need to be up at 7:30. I wonder if it rains and hurricanes tomorrow as eagerly as it did today!

Monday, 4 August 2014

OK, Let's get excited - Say hello to the mini-base for Aspire Equestrian...! :)

As I mentioned before, I have some exciting news - at least I sure hope they are going to be very exciting. Can you guess?
I will give you a clue...

Say hello to the mini-base for Aspire Equestrian...!
If all goes according to plan, from next month, Aspire Equestrian will have a mini-base in form of this little yard. I will be sharing more information about the set up and more photos which I took today in Aspire's newsletter (flying to whoever wishes to receive it on the 1st and 14th of every month). You can sign up for it via my microsite HERE.

I am so looking forward to this next stage in Aspire's development. It is not my own place but I was invited to base myself there and at this moment I am more than happy with such turn of events :) Since affording own yard is currently out of question, my aim is to focus on 2-3 mini-bases where I can offer quality service with top notch attention to detail. I don't care how "posh" they look or how beautiful the facilities are - the most important factor for me is that all the little, ordinary things are done extraordinarily well and that I can control the learning environment. This set up should bring both elements together.
Since I don't drive (yes, I know, it's mad, I will tell you about it in another post) I have to be very creative with where I work and how I can get there. It's a constant struggle and I would lie if I said 80 minutes walks to and from the station every day and then staying on my feet all days are not tiring but when I hear people complaining about not doing something they really want to do because they would need to get on a bus or train or both and it would take them over half an hour, it does make me feel a little sad. It's doable. It's possible. It just takes some fabulous clients who are willing to help, some effort, some organisation, coordination and a lot of patience ;)

This is not to say I can't wait for when I can finally sit in my own car! More on this soon.

On a train on one of many journeys this past week :) 
This last week was a fast blur for all the good reasons. I have had a few new clients starting their training and those who started Aspire programmes are all staying on them which makes me very happy indeed. Technically, I still need few more regular spaces filled over the next 6 months to be able to say the programmes are viable in long term business terms but I shall continue to work on that.

I have a day off travelling tomorrow but a long to-do list awaits for me. I have a guest blog to write for a fabulous website, I will share a link once it's online, and an article on how I use the Racewood simulator for my courses for the company who makes them.
The simulator I use is the dressage one although I do use it in an all-round manner. It's such a fantastic tool and once I send the article I will link to it as there will be some fun videos going with it :)


Hope you all had something good happening today! Speak soon :)



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Beautiful mornings and planning for the first go at the second draft


I love teaching in the mornings especially in the summer we are having this year. The sun comes out early, strong and warm, with a slight breeze to break the heat. I love walking onto a freshly graded and flattened arena surface that no one yet rode on and just take in this ordinary, rectangular piece of ground that comes with so many emotions. It's so true when we say that we often forget things, places, faces but we never forget how they made us feel :)

My favourite artificial riding surfaces are the light coloured ones, love the silica sand and fabric but any light surface is a winner. I guess it reminds me of a white beach sand and makes me feel calm and zen ;) Having said that, riding on grass is also high on my likings. Not too manicured and not too flat with some gradients to challenge the feel for balance and proprioception in the horse.

Last several days were busy teaching and I have done some serious walking miles running around. Two days of writing ahead of me now and I must keep up with my schedule. I prepared the sketch of the contents I need to cover tomorrow and on Thursday and decided to get on the second draft of the book from the instructional side - in other words I am first drafting the second version of the "learning to ride manual" rather than the "riding instructor's diary" part. At first I planned to just let the writing flow and let myself cover whatever first draft subject comes to me on a given day but I changed my mind. I decided I need some skeleton, a discipline and structure, and then let some creativity develop within that rather than jump from one subject to another.
I am planning to do two 3 hour blocks with 30 min breaks for main draft of the chapters that are on the table tomorrow and I am quite excited to get started on them.

Apart from the above, I am also working on the August newsletters to send out to Aspire subscribers and making a plan of action for the next few months as far as organisation of my teaching goes but I will tell you more about it in a few weeks time.

Now I have few more emails to write and then will hit the pillows I think :)



Friday, 25 July 2014

Putting in the hours

Ball games with Woody after morning teaching followed by long hours on the laptop 
Someone asked me this morning why put so much emphasis on rider centred approach in my coaching programmes. I gave my answer but the subject kept coming back to me.
I think that, eventually, we all ask ourselves, what am I contributing to this world and how do I feel with it. .
The way I see it is that every well educated rider can educate many horses and give them a great life. This thought drives me every single time I give a lesson.
If I focused on producing lovely horses, I would not have the same sense of job/life satisfaction. If one is lucky enough to do both, great. There are many good riders out there who can bring on horses well. There are not that many good, all-round coaches.

I feel it's important to have a challenge in ones life, something that makes you feel that you are always learning, always striving for the better, giving something back and making good use of your skills. To me, rider centred training is one of those challenges.

Recently, I'd been working on getting the hang of online newsletters. I wanted to find a free service that would do the job of sending some "limited edition" content, news and advice to all my email subscribers. Yesterday, the first bi-monthly newsletter finally went into cyber space together with a little special shout out with some very interesting, unlisted videos on sports psychology that I was kindly given for use :) My aim is to prepare some special bit of content for each of those newsletters including video tutorials and advice that I would not normally put on the blog. If you would like to subscribe,then pop over to Aspire microsite http://aspir1.wix.com/aspireequestrian2014 , scroll down a tiny bit and add your email into the box :)


http://aspir1.wix.com/aspireequestrian2014

Regarding the habits and doing not-so-enchanting-but-necessary business-y stuff that I wrote about few days ago: I started with a little routine. For now, I put aside 30 minutes every day to sit on, what I call in my head, "a how not to drown strategy" ;) Apparently, it takes at least 2-3 months for a habit to form - I hope my head is still in one piece at the end of that formation process but I know once it's there I will be fine. Habits are power ;) Like in riding, training and coaching.

Until next time :)
Wiola

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Why it's vitally important to believe in Unicorns

My little niece - wonder what's on her mind ;) 
Last couple days were an interesting mixture of various troubles through which I'd been stubbornly moving through and some lovely moments which I have been happily embracing.
At the moment everything comes down to sorting one thing out and ten others appearing with tripled force screaming for solutions. They give me headaches and certainly bring decent amount of stress with them but that's when the Unicorns come in...

Don't worry. I have not succumbed to a mental illness (just yet) - I simply believe in delusional optimism as a way of dealing with nay-sayers and general negativity, whether real or perceived one. You can't be any more delusional than when you get on your unicorn and ride into happy fields! 

On a more serious note, we all know that stress and anxiety can drain you and demolish your health. The problems one might have won't get better from hours of grief (a loose term here, can mean anything from crying your eyes out through to screaming, hair tearing to over-eating) over them although of course there might be people out there who possibly prefer to see you depressed and in black head to toe rather than trotting on a rainbow coloured pony. After some time of submitting to the doom and gloom in the past and realising fully it was not going to make anything any better I now fire fight all little bits of self-pity or resignation. One day I hope to burn it all. 

Being consciously delusionally optimistic doesn't mean not seeing the problems, it just means moving on regardless, finding little paths that can take one back to the main road at some point.  For some inexplicable reason, if you keep moving, even if sometimes that takes you through some nettles, armpits high grass or muddy woods, you end up coming across solutions you didn't think possible. 

I hope to be able to share with you some exciting news in a few weeks time but for now, if you are doubting anything that you are doing or feel like there are always two steps back after one taken forwards, rest assured you are not alone... Keep on it. Get on your unicorn and keep riding...:) 




Monday, 21 July 2014

Pondering on habits, productivity and mobility

One of my perfected habits - healthy breakfasts :) 
I listened to an interesting interview today somewhere on the world wide web in which a business guy was telling his ways of brainwashing oneself into a better life habits. Now, I do believe that habits are important if not necessary to be excellent in whatever field we chose to play in. So I listened with some attention.
The guy said that his method is to periodically read biographies of people he admires for how they achieved what they wanted to achieve and then he short lists particular behaviours of those individuals so he can emulate them in his daily life.
Once, he had a diet coke twice a day at certain times exactly like one successful person he wanted to emulate. He said it wasn't about a particular activity, it was about what this activity meant. Every time he sipped that diet coke, he would somewhat put himself in the shoes of the person he wanted to emulate.

In the course of last few years I have risked enough to find out much more of what my weaknesses and strengths really are and I would quite happily also find a way to work on the former while being backed by the latter. I don't really like coke and neither do I know of any quirky habits of anyone whose business skills I would really like to posses. However, I do like the idea of habit triggers that come with additional aspect that provide motivational and inspirational drive. And that are sustainable.

Running something like my coaching programmes is exciting, empowering, all-consuming and energising for me but there are some business-y aspects to the process that I don't enjoy and which are absolutely necessary for not only success but survival of the project. I am acutely aware that creating habits that would lead me to work more on those necessary, difficult aspects could actually lead to less trouble and more productivity.

Does anyone have any recommendation for books on habit creation for pain-in-the-ass elements of running own business? Or perhaps an inspirational biography of someone who built something from nothing and didn't end up hating oneself and the actual thing at the end? ;)

How do you develop habits for doing the things you know need doing but which you find every reason not to spend more time on?
I feel like I am close to the right frame of mind but not quite there. Perhaps it's the perfectionist in me but I feel that my efforts just aren't enough, I should do better.

On the actual teaching front, after a really organisationally tricky week last week, I managed to make workable changes which will let me get to most of my clients for the moment. As some of you might know, I have no driving licence and no car which, considering the nature of my job, is nuts. I am making steps towards finally getting this sorted and will tell you more about it soon. For many years, I have tried to make sure most of my work was organised in a way that I could actually make my way to it. This year, however, I set myself a new challenge with taking on a trainee assistant instructor who I could train up to eventually work alongside me. Part of her role was driving with me to clients. Unfortunately, the young girl who I took on in March this year could not carry on after initial few months and so here I am with a structure of the work set up for "mobile" yet being very much grounded.
Why don't you take another person on, I hear you ask. Potentially, that is an option and I am looking into it but  regardless whether suitable person is found or not, I have to address my own mobility. This year.
Before that happens, I will just find a way to continue as much as possible because my clients' enjoyment is worth the extra hassle.

This morning- one of my clients with his new training partner :) I try to find share horses for as many of my non-horse owning clients as possible - more about this soon. 


Night night for now :)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Logistics


Woody trying to convince me to quit working and get playing instead :) 

I will soon share with you a wider picture of the doubtfully colourful, logistical maze I am trying to navigate since May this year but I need to ease myself slowly into my daily writings before I do so. Right now, I am feeling semi-content after managing to organise my week ahead without major disasters which didn't escape me in the week just gone. 

The summer is wonderfully hot here this year which attracts flies, storms and sleepless nights. Some horses really struggle with the heat while others thrive and work very well. Riders are mostly in the first category so we are planning the lessons around early mornings and late afternoons to escape the strongest rays. I seem to deal with the heat fairly well here although it is worth noting that British heat is not quite comparable with Portuguese or even Polish one from the central regions. 

Sunny mornings are great to wake up to regardless the temperatures. I have started a bit of a habit of list making the day before for the next day so I don't waste too much precious time I have in the mornings before setting off on my teaching journeys. 
Tomorrow morning I have to write my newsletter for everyone who subscribed by email to Aspire microsite (if you haven't, please feel free to go for it :) it's free :) ) or Aspire NewsBook. It will be the third one I will be sending out and I try to make sure the content is interesting and exclusive and so it feels special to receive it :) 
Then I am off teaching and will probably be back in the early evening assuming transport gods are kind! Once home I will have my next blog post to finish for Monday about timings in training and two video feedbacks for my online clients across the pond. 

Hope you are having a lovely weekend :) 
Wiola



Friday, 18 July 2014

Page From: Today aka Back to Daily (almost) Blogging!

"The beginning is always today". Mary Wollstonecraft

Hello Dear Readers,

Behind the scenes of horsey freelance job:
admin, accounts, meeting ends and the lot!
It's been so long since I wrote on here that I have almost forgotten how wonderful it feels to just let the words flow without trying to write something of better value, something educational and useful as I do on my Aspire blog ;)
I don't know if anyone of my old readers are still popping in but my stats tell me many of you are still coming and visiting and I am sorry this space has been so silent for such a long time. This is perhaps about to change...
Last night I finally finished the first draft of part 1 of my book - it goes without saying that this first draft is infinitely rubbish and there are probably another few that will have to follow but I feel like I've made that first step. The Part 1 goes from about 2006/7 and stops on somewhat random day of 6th July which was the weekend of Tour De France 2014, the day on which I received potentially exciting news and the day that was the second day of a really fun clinic I did in North Yorkshire. Yes, I did finish it in the most annoying way - i.e. I left the reader hanging!

As I was working on that first draft of the book I reminisced of many unforgeable moments this blog has brought me, how helpful it was to waffle about my worries, good times, bad times. I remembered the time when I questioned whether I should continue making this diary and the reasons why I stopped. I also and most importantly thought of people I got to meet and spend time with simply because of this little page in a vast world of online world.

In many ways I've always considered writing this blog as a selfish pursuit. Although I have never set it up to boast (as any long time readers will know there is way more disasters on here than triumphs ;) I have used its pages relentlessly to vent, cry, laugh, document and re-live moments to my own amusement. own needs for sharing and inexplicable need for writing which I love.

Event though I have received many messages and emails from people who have said they found my posts helpful, inspirational, motivational and all the great things that I always hoped to evoke, deep down I was thinking that maybe I should stop it and stop it I did.

Quite recently, I have had two conversations that made me think that it's time to wake the old blog up again. Both chats were with lovely people I would not have met if I didn't write this diary in the first place.

And just like that, after almost 2 years break from regular diary blogging, I am back. One person made me realise that maybe, just maybe, it was actually more selfish not to write any more...(thank you A.).

I won't go into details of those missed years as I wrote enough about them in my book which will be available to read for a few pennies at some point either at the end of this or some time next year. I will sure update you on that in due course.

I will, however, bring you up to speed a little with what's been happening. We last spoke on regular basis when I was still in Portugal. I feel like I have changed somewhat since then mostly due to stupidly putting trust and belief in people I should not have and making very bad business decisions in the process. I ended up with commitments I couldn't keep and I am dealing with the consequences of those mistaken decisions to this day.

Sooo, if you are still here or just joining me on this coach-career-thing journey now - welcome :) The part 2 of the "book" shall write itself now as I take you through the chapters as they happen...

Thank you for stopping by :)

Wiola
What I do this year: http://aspir1.wix.com/aspireequestrian2014



Saturday, 9 November 2013

Page from February 2013. Death in the Rain.

When my dad called to say my grandfather died I was sitting by a huge fireplace in North Portugal, drinking white port wine and chatting horses with a lovely couple from Canada. It was raining outside, this odd invisible rain that soaks you through without you realising. I certainly didn't feel it as I later stood on a stone path staring at the magnificent valley opening up before my eyes and trying to make sense of the words I was hearing on the other side of the phone.

Part of my job at the time was to greet people, make sure they had all they needed as they arrived at the centre, chat with them. It was an easy part for me, I like making people feel welcome and well looked after. It was made even easier by the fact I was dealing with really awesome guests from all over the world bringing their own unique stories with them.

When you look back at life you can pinpoint the moments when turns happen but at the time it starts to twist you only see the minute before your eyes and back then, I just picked up the phone. Do you ever think where will you be when one of your close family dies? Do you ever feel scared at the thought?

Random thoughts like a memory of watching butterflies with my grandfather was what my mind presented to me at the time. My grandfather loved wildlife and forestry. He would spend hours talking about habits of wild boars, wolves, birds, deer; he loved going into the woods and watching everything, reading footprints on the ground. His house was always filled with books about hunting although it seemed like getting to know the animal was more of a fascination for him than the actual act of shooting it.
As my dad and I disconnected the call, I was sure I couldn't go back to the couple inside and pick up the conversation so I walked towards the stables. I remember thinking thank goodness it was raining as the guests would just assume I got drenched rather than I was crying.
The yard was quiet, it was a Sunday afternoon, the time when pretty much nothing was supposed to happen with horses. I didn't want to get spotted by the groom who was there somewhere ready to prepare evening feeds so I went into the stable of one of my favourite jumping horses, sat down on the floor and took comfort from his oblivious presence.

In turmoil of tangled memories I wondered how I could get out of the evening meal which was a big occasion with many more guests to arrive when my boss phoned. As I was gathering my thoughts to say what I had just found out he told me he was not feeling well, he was on way to hospital and would not be coming in for a few days. So I said nothing of my news because my boss not coming meant I was the only person left on site to receive and entertain the guests. And one thing I hate in life is to disappoint people who put trust in me.

So I wiped my face, got up from the floor, hugged the horse and walked back through the rain and into the fireplace room.

The weeks that followed were a mess. There were so many emotions that ran through me then, it was like feeling the pain of my father, my grandmother, my brother, my own. Sounds a cliche, don't pity me, sooner or later every single one of us gets to experience something that shakes our foundations. We were always very close with my grandparents and although I was old enough to accept the life and death scenario, there is never anything logical about the feeling of loss.
My work hours were all over the place back then with many very late nights for many months and early mornings the next day but that crazy, hard, sleepless time oddly prepared me for very testing moments that were to come later...

It's a little under half a year now since my grandfather's death and it's unreal to think how many things happened that would never have otherwise occurred...

The above text is a part of a chapter from the blogbook "Never Give Up"




Thursday, 8 August 2013

Attitude

Before you read this guys, honest warning. This blog is from now on going to be a bit of a waffle about my thoughts connected with writing the 'Never Give Up' blog to book project and life in general. There will surely be horses mentioned but probably not in the context some of you used to come here for. So, for all my training updates please see the Aspire Blog :)

A pond near my parents' place. Nice spot to sit down for a minute, feed the ducks and think

It's 40C in the sun today. Poland became a tropical country this summer. The temperatures have barely ever gone lower than 25C since June and recently fluctuate around 30C-37C. It certainly feels like I've received a decent dose of vitamin D to last me for a long while.
Although I am here out of necessity it is a wonderful occasion to spen
d time with my family. I haven't been around them for any consecutive length of time since 2003 so let's just call it a massive silver lining! Life is such an up and down curve that you've got to appreciate everything good that happens and cherish every minute.
You might think that maintaining a positive attitude when things are not going as we would wish is the most difficult task but from my experience this is not the case. It seems to me that the more I lose, the more troubles I have, the more determined I am to keep hold of my attitude. At times, it's the only thing we can control when other events and life's happenings carry on. The difficult bit is the constant questioning of own actions, the anxiety and uncertainty which can be overwhelming.


Oddly, I have some pathological need to try to help others improve, succeed, achieve. I came to conclusion that if I shaved off the failures from the book, it would just be some look-at-my-great-luck self-publication which would be neither helpful nor would I identify with it.
I wrote a first version of the introduction to the book too and I might share it on here at some point just to see if I am brave enough to post it ;) As I am sure you too notice that generally not many people write about their failures for the simple reason that they are afraid of disrespect. If you honestly share the lows of your career you might come across as a loser so I do wonder if I am not shooting myself doing this.

In present time I continue to search for a yard base (details here) for myself to freelance at and to run Aspire's coaching from. The process will certainly make for some amusing chapters in my little blog-book. Every day I try to find places that might be suitable and get in touch. The responses are varied, let me tell you!

Some people never call back, some never reply, some just say no thank you, some are interested but don't have the capacity to accommodate my idea, some go to some pleasant lengths telling me to... just buy my own yard if I want to have the benefit of one...I do wonder if they treat their clients the same way as job enquirers.

On the days when I get an arrogant, thoughtless reply I think of how many times Harry Potter manuscript was rejected before it made onto the No 1 Bestsellers list ;)

I should probably say I am very outgoing and love cold calling but unfortunately I'm generally a shy person if I don't know someone so contacting all these yards just like that is not such an easy task. On good days, the cheeky replies have zero effect on me and I just plough on but on others they are of course disheartening, I dwell on them too much and they can drag me down.

Thankfully, I also have a restless drive inside me that pushes me on and tells me to learn from each encounter and put it behind me. Another thing that pushes me on is support from total strangers, fellow bloggers, riders and friends who would love to see the Aspire project finding a place to thrive at so huge thank you goes out to all of you!

Until next ramble!

Friday, 22 March 2013

From a Chapter: Late March. Reflections. Norway. Virtual Coaching. Planning.

- Have you never thought of getting a proper job? You know, your studies and all... - my grandmother looks at me with her light-blue, watercolour like eyes. Her face small and wrinkled. She isn't being spiteful or dismissive. Tone of her voice is loving, bemused somewhat, suspended between concern and disbelief that someone might indeed seriously consider a future of travelling around and teach horse riding. There is a shy smile on her face and the fact that she speaks quietly tells me she isn't sure if she should ask this question at all.
I leave out the little detail, the fact that I would love to travel even more, teach all over Europe or maybe even beyond, stay at small, shabby stables and big luxurious centres, anywhere where there are grassroots riders wanting to explore and learn.

My grandmother worked in a textiles factory. She spent thirty three years of her life working in conditions that would most probably be considered high-risk nowadays and which certainly did damage her health. Overwhelming noise of machines, fumes, smell of vinegar, hot steam. She worked three shifts, sometimes only having several hours off in between them. She's over eighty now and despite her questions, she believes everybody should do what makes them happy.

Textile Factory, Lodz, 1934

 

When she asked me about that proper job on this snowy March afternoon, just as I returned from Norway where I had a great time running one of my Aspire Coaching Weekends, I waited for a feeling of defensiveness that I used to get when confronted with other people's views on my chosen way of life. The feeling didn't come though. It doesn't any more.

At 34, it's very clear to me, that life is an extremely short affair. It always seemed that way but as time goes by, the infinity loops back at me. I guess it is possible to derive some pleasure out of living to someone else's design but my genetics forgot to implement such coding.

Teaching riding, as long as not done mechanically, is more than "a proper job". Although dismissed by many, I believe the discovery process we experience whilst training, is enriching and fulfilling. When we take time to understand the training process, ditch contraptions we put horses in, give up on training methods that cause pain to both rider and a horse, then the sessions become a self-discovering journey. Even for very young riders.
If as a trainer, you can help a rider to get closer to that fulfilment, you are doing something worthwhile. And that is all that, in my opinion, really matters. In any job. To do something worthwhile.

In my view, riding & training are like books & arts :) Neither is absolutely necessary to survival but both feed those parts of us that are able to give back to life what's most enjoyable: dreams, senses, emotions, passion, dedication, adventure, freedom.

I start telling my Grandmother about my recent work and I can tell that although she listens, she will never comprehend my take on it.

The weekend was a superb experience, as ever in Norway. I love working with people there, there is a lot of hunger for knowledge, for new ways of learning, for different ways of looking at the same thing.
Below are some images from the weekend:

Train arrives to take me from the airport to Oslo centre. The station is tiny and remote so the funky, modern train that pulls in looks completely surreal and out of place. The top of the train says "Lillehammer" - the name I recall from the 1994 Winter Olympics. It makes me smile :)


Oslo. Electric cars, cheerful colours on buildings and much less snow than in the suburbs.


Simba the cat on my many layers. To those who think it looks cold on the photos - it was not that bad. As they say, there is never a bad weather, just a bad choice of clothing. I was well prepared this time and didn't notice the cold at all. Only the ice like crunching of snow under my soles gave away the -19C  that visited at night ;) 


Video analysis in a cute little log cabin/wooden mountain cottage. 


Sunday morning. On way to the indoor arena for in-hand work with the horses.


Yummy, home made cakes! Delicious :) best served with horsey chats ;)  


In-hand work session





Some of the riders in action: 









On the above photo, the 4 year old TB youngster, Red, is being babysat by a racing pony, Naomi. This was Red's first time ever in an arena. In Norway, race horses get normal riding horse education as well as race training. Naomi races too with her young rider. 
I was shocked to hear today that Red fell over on the track this week and fractured a bone in his knee. He is a lovely horse and although he will never race again, I really hope he makes full recovery and is able to dressage happily. 

And finally, Maria (with Fame) who organises my coaching weekends there. She used to write a lovely blog (HERE) but is nowadays rarely seen in the blogosphere. Wonderful host and a great friend. 


I received a really generous feedback from the riders and although it feels wonderful it must be said that without those riders' open minded approach and their obvious enthusiasm for their horses, none of those fantastic moments would be possible.

Now back home, I am preparing the notes and virtual coaching plans for those riders who signed up for it at the weekend. After some reflections on how Aspire training has worked in the last 2 years, I decided to transform my usual online training plans into a separate Aspire Equestrian E-Academy: Virtual Coaching Club.

If you would like to receive more information about it, or if you know someone who struggles with transport/access to trainers and would like to experienced motivational, committed coaching, please leave me a comment (add: "not for publishing" in the comment and I won't make the comment public) with your email address and I will send you full pdf.



Next Mobile Coaching Weekends are coming up also in the UK. The first one will be near London, on the 18th and 19th May. Please feel free to share the below poster with anyone who you think might want to join in. If you have any questions, email any time as per details on the poster.


There is another exciting weekend coming in June (1st-2nd June) and you can stay in touch with all Aspire training activities by joining the Aspire Coaching Weekends 2013 on Facebook or email me so I can put you on my mailing list.

*****

- Yes, I probably could get "a proper job", do something good - I say to my Grandmother and for a moment she looks surprised. Or hopeful. I find it hard to guess - but instead of that Gran, I decided to do something amazing...;)
She laughs and I wonder if she truly got it. But I don't ask.

Disclaimer: Please do not be compelled to quit your jobs (unless you really feel you should) to also do something amazing. Keep your jobs that pay you nicely so you can afford the amazing horsey training... ;) 



Friday, 8 March 2013

Page From The Diary: Early March

I know many of you are still visiting and part of me feels sad to disappoint you with lack of new posts but hopefully, this little update will satisfy some of you :)

Do any of you watch snooker? Have you ever looked at it and thought, hey, if life was like this and I could meet a supremely skilled snooker player aka life advisor, who would hit the right balls for me, I could sip my drink and enjoy the show...I could look at this mess of decisions, actions, things to do, things not to do and all I would see would be a perfectly engineered plan of hits and strokes, angles and light reflections with secrets to tell. 
Of course, life is not like snooker. It's more like joining dots. You start from one closest to you and join the next one and the next one and you must believe that at the end, they will create a picture you want.

My little family-work break in Poland is fantastic so even though I am here to work crazy hours, it feels good to have my loved ones so close.
There was a freak of a weather for a few days, with 15C and lovely, warm sunshine until we woke up this morning to the Narnia outside the windows ;)
Right now, I really don't mind at all, after wet winter in Portugal and so much rain in the UK I am enjoying good old Polish four seasons! Winters are usually dry and snowy with no mud, of course it's cold but there is always something for something.

All my warm clothes are in London so I had to raid my mum's house for her ski wardrobe (it's warm and actually more comfortable than most equestrian branded stuff ;) because in a week's time I am off to run Aspire Coaching Weekend in beautiful but freezing Norway.
I am really looking forward to seeing all the riders again and catch up with wonderful Maria!

Not one to stay still, throughout 2012 I have put together a new format for my coaching weekends so can't just go with stress free mind repeating old lines. It's a good stress though, the energizing type.


I think I finally found a format that will last me for a while but of course, I will continue to make it better and better. It consists of what matters to me in training of both riders and horses, it's fun as well as educational and most of all, it's diabolically effective when at its best! ;)

The Polish version of Aspire Equestrian's website is now ready and awaits second and third proofreading. I've done first round today and I hope I will never ever have to do proofreading for a living because it's a damn tiring exercise!
Here are some screen grabs for a sneaky peak if someone wants to have a look: Aspire Polska website preview.

The spring will be busy too. At the moment, my plan is to run 2 coaching weekends in April and May, in Berkshire/Oxfordshire and near London and 2 in Poland.
The industry here is a little different and it's going to be interesting to see the reaction to the type of offer Aspire equestrian is. We are officially on the road from 20th March...

I would like to share something with you. For a few weeks I was in a gridlock. I had so many ideas and they just kept coming but in the same time, I was paralysed. I didn't know why but it was a complete stand still of mind in one way and frantic overdrive in the other.
At first I thought I had lost sight of the goal or a dream that I've had. But I was wrong, It was not the big goal that went missing.
You know how this saying goes that the longest journey is made by the first small step? That was the problem. I could see the goal very clearly but I was not able to make those little steps.

Once I realised this, the problem was gone...and now I have a new version of two famous sayings...

Dream Bigger than you Dare but Act Smaller than Know You Can. 

Until next time :) More on this will be in my book this year...



Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Page From the Diary: Early February

My birthday came and went, years pass by and although it's a cliché thing to say, I do feel some shifts and changes in the way I look at things, plan things and think of life in general. I hope they are for the better! You know, more sensible and less impulsive with my decisions ;) 

I do miss writing this little blog but hopefully someone will enjoy the now-hidden-from-public-views posts in the future book :) 

The Aspire blog has a couple of new guest bloggers whom you might want to meet: Laura Williams from England and Christine Lien from Norway. Laura is an equine behaviourist and human psychologist whilst Christine is a passionate young rider and an owner of a beautiful Friesian gelding which dressage training have proven to be a real quest...



To read the above posts please hover over a link below and give it a nice, firm click :) 

As you can see I also added a post on Psoas Muscles in riders - it's an updated version of the most popular blog post I have ever written on this blog, having had over 6.000 views. The links and videos no longer worked in the initial post so I re-wrote it, found better resources and posted it to Aspire blog. Direct link is here: Deep Hidden Secret of Good Riders

The Polish "branch" of Aspire Equestrian is very slowly taking shape. I decided to only put it up on the website publicly once I have most details organised so it will take a few more weeks before the materials are ready for publishing. 

For now, I set up a Facebook page for Aspire Equestrian Polska:  


What I can tell you is that Aspire Equestrian structure is now changed and the services will be based on three main programmes: 


The Riding Academy will remain largely unchanged from its current form; the other two will come with full descriptions and their unique features in March 2013! 

I am also really excited to be invited to run Aspire training weekend in Norway again! Some warm winter clothes and furry hat and I am ready :-D

Until next "Page From the Diary". All the best,
Wiola