Friday, 31 July 2009

Honest Scrap Award


Thank you very much to http://horseypants.blogspot.com/ for giving the Honest Scrap Award to me.
Now, let me think about those 10 Honest Things you don't know about me...(but do you really want to know..?;)

1. I believe in impossible things.

2. The first sport I ever trained (as oppose to recreationally tried) was long distance cross country running. I ran up to National level. Most of the coaching/training principles I use when teaching riding are based on those old experiences.

3. I am fiercely competitive...but with myself only. I actually genuinely like other people doing well. To the point I once cheated in a race so someone else could win it. I learned since that you just don't do this in sport ;)

4. I can be cynical which I dislike.

5. I no longer have a bad knee (one with ACL damage). I now have a bad knee (no ACL damage) and a worse knee (with ACL damage).

6. Once upon a time I had the best friend you can hope for...until I discovered the person was also my worst enemy. Life's lesson learned...

7. I received a few writing excellence awards of sorts. In my native language that is. I wrote a series of short stories nobody really understood (possibly because I wasn't making much sense;). The title was (in translation) "Wide Awake Hypersomnia".

8. I am very eclectic in my interests and know a thing or two. This helps me at work a lot. The only people I find a struggle to get on with are people without sense of humour. Generally - the wittier the better.

9. I have some very special people in my life. Those who walk into a room and make everything better just by being there. I have a couple of very special friends. Those who somewhat complete me and make me a better person. There isn't much I wouldn't do for them.

10. Well, apart from letting go of the last pancake. I adore pancakes.

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Best way to piaffe

Pic.above: Kiran getting her horse ready for our 2h hack. In B&W as I overexposed the photo and it looks better without colour. Grooming develops such a bond between the rider and the horse which is why I always include it in a Training Day. Think this photo captures it well...

Very pleasant day today with plenty of sunshine. Ran Training Day for Kiran who is becoming more and more confident. The aim for today's sessions was to improve Kiran's 1) ability to maintain the given tempo of the trot while working over the poles and 2) riding fitness. To achieve the latter I am starting Kiran on a '2 hours hacking programme' ;)
The rider itself enjoyed the experience very much so. Her bottom less so ;)

Below is a short video from our lovely relaxing hack. For my horse relaxing meant 'keep me moving'. Every time I tried stopping he would go into perfect little piaffe - who said Thoroughbreds can't do Grand Prix movements? ;) I must have to try to video him doing it at some point.


Another Training Day tomorrow.
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Thursday, 30 July 2009

My Intermediate Teaching exam results arrived today...

I PASSED :)
Rick phoned me at work to say the results had arrived and I am over the moon as you may suspect!
You should be able to click on the photo to enlarge it. This is what you receive from the EQL Ltd (Equestrian Qualifications GB Limited), which is an awarding body for all the BHS exams.
As you can see I have 2 X on the sheet which means I failed to impress the examiner on the following elements:
5.1.2. which is "Demonstrate a safe, correct and effective lunge technique". I suspected a bit of trouble there as I put my lunge whip on the floor at one point which the examiner quizzed me about later. I did it because my horse was fidgeting when I helped the rider on so it was easier for me to hold him ;)
On a separate note, I wonder if the examiner would like my lunging technique which involved handling a lunge horse in canter with one hand and a video camera in the other ;) Hmm.

Second element with a X is 6.4.1. Involve all the pupils in the presentation. This is to do with my lecture. See, there was one candidate in my group who was rather shy, nervous and she looked to me like she would hate if I questioned her on anything. As the other two in my group were jolly and chatty we had a nice dialogue going and I thought I would be nice to the other candidate if I don't expose her lack of knowledge and/or confidence! Obviously wrong decision.

Anyway.
Now that I know I passed I will also share a couple of more comments. What really shocked me at the exam was the way some of the candidates taught their lessons. It looked like a ready-made, rigid pantomime style performance. I didn't see much teaching involved in that. More like mechanical 'going through the movements' sort of sessions.
As my teaching has nothing of that character and I totally changed all of my briefs and lessons plans to suit my riders on the day I was worried that it was me who was doing it the wrong way. I am not a very 'BHS old style' instructor, neither had I any systematic, costly, specific training towards the exam. This is why I am doubly pleased about passing; because it shows there is no 'BHS teaching way' as many people insist on. There is only genuine teaching of the riders in front of you. Thankfully.

Together with the above sheet you also receive comments on your coaching. The documents titled 'Independently Assessed Practical Coaching Session' which give you feedback on the following elements:
  • Manage a safe and effective coaching environment
  • complete safety checks and manage the safe and effective set-up and taking down of equipment if relevant
  • check safety of rider, equipment, tack and arena surface during introduction phase
  • use of equipment throughout is safe
  • exercises are safe and appropriate for combination(s)
  • Deliver Programme Goals using a range of coaching styles and methods
  • prepare participants and others for the coaching programme (introduction, warm up and initial assessment and analysis leading to clear focus and SMART goals)
  • Deliver the coaching programme (effective communication, rider empowerment, open and questioning based style, clear progression, technically correct, meeting needs of combination)
  • Develop participants' performance within the coaching programme (demonstrate improvement of the combination, appropriate use of demonstrations. On-going observation of combination demonstrated through feedback and exercises)
  • Conclude the coaching programme (finishing on a positive outcome, cool down, involve rider/s in summary, and progress in session, identifies work for the future)
  • Develop personal coaching practice (is able to accurately reflect on the session identify strengths and areas for improvements, can identify action plan to progress personal skills)
  • Technical Competence Section
  • Rider position for discipline
  • Natural aids (appropriate and technically correct use of aids for exercises)
  • Use of specialist equipment if required
  • Overall outcome of the session
All those elements have comment boxes as well as Outcome summary (the latter you can get: C-competent, NYC - not yet competent, NS - no shown). I have C's in every box and all the comments are very complementary. I wish they included some less good points commented on too so I have a full picture but I can't complaint can I??!! ;)



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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Time to think

I like my little breaks in between my lessons. They are the windows I look out from to see what's happening, to think what I can do better, what was bad and needs improving. Self-reflection it's called in coaching. For me it is simply the time to think.
Even if it's just 30 minutes every few hours.
Spent a lot of those hours recently speaking loud due to the wind and today's Pony Day lessons seemed to have finished off my voice. If I had any good ear and could keep a decent tune I swear I could record some million dollar husky whisper song with my voice now ;)
Hope it gets better by tomorrow.

A lovely rider I taught at my exam on Wed emailed me to enquire about 4 days training with me. We only had half an hour at my exam but they improved immensly so I am looking forward to seeing them again :)
Still no exam results from BHS.


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Core Exercises for riders from Equifitt.com


Find more videos like this on Barnmice
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Monday, 27 July 2009

Halt or maybe half-halt?


Main Entry:rest
Part of Speech:noun
Definition:inactivity
Synonyms:break, breather, breathing space, calm,calmness, cessation, coffee break, comfort,composure, cutoff, downtime, doze, dreaminess,ease, forty winks, halt, holiday, hush, idleness,interlude, intermission, interval, leisure, letup,lull, motionlessness, nap, pause, peace, quiescence, quiet, quietude, recess, recreation, refreshment, relaxation, relief, repose, respite, siesta, silence, sleep, slumber, somnolence, standstill, stay, stillness, stop, time off, tranquillity, vacation
Antonyms:action, activity, energy

There is one problem I always have with resting and relaxing. It seems to happen best in a lovely, tidy, tranquil environment and I struggle to truly unwind with any mess around. So here's the problem, my dear home is far cry from that idyllic surroundings. I rarely have the time to make it so and if I do I'd rather be resting! Vicious circle...

I guess some compromise is always needed.
Spent a couple of hours tidying up the place in the morning until I was half-satisfied with results, loaded the washing machine three times to catch up with no activity in that department during the week and got rewarded by a fabulous sunshine just when it was the time to think what on earth to do with all that wet clothing! Nothing beats the lovely scent coming from drying things out outside :)
Had a lovely breakfast mooching on fresh fruit, croissants, reading a non-horsey magazine and just trying not to think about anything that needs doing.
Then, as if it has been my custom I proceeded to have a midday nap! The day of luxury ;)

I'm sitting here now, rather refreshed, waiting for our roast chicken to get ready (can hear it sizzling - looks like some serious oven cleaning is awaiting me too!). Serving it with a massive amount of sweet and crunchy salad with French dressing and some funny Italian gnocchi. And a glass of wine.
Talking about wine, the shop assistant would not let me buy wine today without seeing my ID! When I told him my date of birth he looked as if I just told him the biggest lie of the year. Well, at least all that hard work doesn't make me look old ( at least not in the eyes of wine department shop assistants ;).

Food time!

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Sunday, 26 July 2009

Grab a nice cup of tea, grab some biscuits and sit comfortably - long catch up post ahead ;)


The week...
has been a case of being hit by an after effect of the last few weeks of working during days and revising to the exam at nights. Once it was over it was as if someone poked the balloon that kept me afloat. It's a common knowledge, you can't catch up with lost sleep by staying in bed until midday on your day off. What's gone it's gone and it will get you sooner or later.
So I've been struggling indeed, feeling very sleepy during a day and absent minded and somewhat lacking enthusiasm.
But I am getting there! My batteries seem a little bit more charged this evening so I am attempting this update.

The day before my exam...
I was delighted to hear that my friend's tests came back all clear. I am pretty sure my friends and family will be the ones responsible for the amount of grey hair covering my head. Lucky for them they are rather special so will have to be forgiven!

Talking about family...
It's not long until my holiday and I absolutely can't wait to see my family. We're all off to spend 5 days at the FEI World Cup Final in Eventing in Strzegom, Poland. 23 days to go. Roll on the 19th of August.
My darling Mum has recently received her Level 1 Certificate in Reflexology (she runs a small company together with my Dad but was always into alternative medicine and now decided she wanted to become a Reflexologist as well). I am very proud and happy for her even though she will probably want to test her new skills on me!

The Equestrian Academy project...
is what I am spending my evenings on at the moment. Lots of browsing, searching for ideas and ways to make it all work, designing the ins and outs and gathering information
for a business plan etc etc I have to have as much details in writing ready before the 10th of August as that's when I will meet with someone who will very likely be joining me and sharing the Academy teaching. She's a fab, if rather demanding dressage trainer and I think she would bring a wealth of experience and skill into the project. She used to teach me a bit on Hamlet and I am going for a lesson again soon.
I'm hoping we can set off with the Academy by the end of September but there is a hell of a lot still to organise.

I would like to thank ever so much to everyone who took the time to read the earliest brief for the whole project, who have passed on their feedback, ideas and support. It's been a massive food for thought. You all know who you are, big thank you. Keep the ideas coming x

When it comes to life...
it will be all thanks to You :) Without the riders who want to do more than just travel in the saddle there would never be anything.

I am being promised...
a super website for the Academy. It will be designed by my favourite designer, who has just brought me a delicious coffee and toast, so it is bound to be rather exciting. It will hopefully help us to market the whole idea, make it well known as well as provide all the needed information in one place.

Booked...
a friend of mine, Tomasz, for the many Photo sessions that will be done to illustrate that site. All of my riders: be prepared to be asked (only one answer will be considered valid, guess which one) to feature on the site. Check out Tomasz's website: http://zdankowski.com/. Back in 2006 he took most of the photos that went on my own site so we should be able to build up on experiences from then.

Work...
I'm doing 6 days a week now, leaving home at 8am and coming back at 8pm (if I'm lucky and trains run on time, or 10pm if it's my late evening teaching day). Have some Training Days coming up which I need to plan schedules for in the next few days. I am also taking some additional hours to help with the running of Pony Days in London.


The Young Instructor Of The Year 2009...
is yet another little thing I want to do this year. My plan for tomorrow is to fill in the application form and get it ready to be sent off. The selection day for the South East region will be held at Hadlow College in Kent in September.

So as you see...
it's always rather busy over here. I don't do doing nothing very well. Don't get me wrong. I do rest...sometimes;) One day I might even go for a beach holiday, read a book, sip Pimms while leisuring in one of those soft, white mattress covered deck chairs, watch the waves playing sculpting games with golden sand. One day, when I feel like I really truly deserved a rest. Not yet.

Pic.: 'You done yet? Got any mints there?'...All the pictures in this post are from today. From top: morning lesson, my little armchair/coffee shop and schooling one of the horses at the end of the day.

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Saturday, 25 July 2009

2010 Radio Show Episode 48 – Reining Test Event at Kentucky Horse Park

Lisa Coulter riding Hollywood Aces

Exclusive radio coverage from Kentucky Cup Reining, the reining test event held this week at the new Kentucky Horse Park Indoor Arena. A number of guests, including Shawn Flarida and Angel Karolyi, joined Samantha and Glenn to make this one enjoyable evening. Listen in...

2010 Radio Show Episode 48 - Reining Test Event at Kentucky Horse Park:

  • Thank you to Amy and all the gang at the WEG Office for all their help.

  • Team USA rider Tom McCutcheon of Aubrey, TX, won the individual final in Kentucky Cup Reining, the first test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Following McCutcheon in the standings was Canada's Lisa Coulter, who finished second with a score of 219.5 on Hollywood Aces. Dell Hendricks of Tioga, TX, scored 218.0 on Starbucks Sidekick, a 9-year-old, Quarter Horse stallion, as did Mexico's Jose Vazquez on Juiced Up Doc, to put the two riders in a tie for third. Read More...

  • Para Equestrian riders from this hemisphere have another chance to qualify for next year's World Equestrian Games. The WindReach International Para-Dressage CPEDI 3* event will take place next May, the 28 to 30, and will be an official qualifier.

  • Three Day Eventers are also trying to qualify this weekend at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. The Event at Rebecca Farm is the only HSBC FEI World Cup Qualifier in the United States this year, and will run alongside a one star CIC, a two star CCI without steeplechase, novice through advanced horse trials divisions, and four and five year old future event horse classes. More...

  • If you're interested in learning more about Rood and Riddle, the official equine hospital and veterinary partner of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games then we have just the book for you. Buy Equine ER: Stories from a Year in the Life of an Equine Veterinary Hospital.

  • See all the pictures of the event below. Thanks to Jamie Link, Lisa Jackson, Shawn Flarida and Angel Karolyi for joining us.

  • Please support our sponsors as they make this show possible:

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

I'm back! My Intermediate Teaching exam Report

For those of you who can't be bothered reading the whole post - I had a super super day and I'm really hoping I passed all the sections :) It felt good.

Off to the beginning. After fairly hectic morning teaching I set off to catch a train to Gloucester. I still had about 5 lessons plans for presentations to write so did a couple while travelling. Arrived at the hotel around 9pm, ordered myself a massive fruit platter and sat down to finish off writing the plans.

As is my somewhat stupid custom (I did that at school, Uni and always really before every single exam and it became a habit of sorts - no matter how prepared I am I feel the need to read things up or else it seems to me I am not doing enough) I read until about 1am or thereabouts until my eyes started swearing at me.
Got myself comfortable in an expanse of the hotel bed (think it was a king king size!) and enjoyed a very short sleep.
My alarm rang at 6am as I had one more lesson plan to write but I decided against doing anything that involved getting out of that lovely lovely bed! Had my phone on snoozes so it rang every 3 minutes or so - if my neighbours heard it they probably hated me silently ;)
Dragged myself from underneath the covers about 10 to 7, it was drizzling outside but had a nice relaxing view from my room's window.

Geared myself up and popped downstairs to meet my taxi driver who was taking me to Huntley School of Equitation for the exam.
Got there just in time for the briefing at 8am. There was 10 of us taking the exam and we were divided into groups as normal at any other BHS exams.
The only difference was that we were given numbers at random and we drew the lecture subjects and types of lessons at random too.
The funny thing was, I drew mine, went through normal 'name etc' and the Chief Examiner says to me 'oh and Wiola, don't worry about your lecture, I read your website and I know you were worried about it'...Couldn't help but laugh, never had any examiner reading my blog before!


So here is what I drew out for myself (I may have gotten the times a bit wrong, don't remember exactly and I misplaced my notes! I think I left them in the car of fun Irish instructor who kindly gave me a lift to Gloucester once we were done - Kate M., if you are reading this, have a look in your boot please ;)

8.45 - 11.15: LECTURE & EQUITATION THEORY

My lecture topic was 'Physical and mental preparation for a session'. Now, I didn't write a lecture plan on this one so had to do so in 10 minutes, scribbled something quickly but was pretty confident I would be fine with the subject. And I reckon it went rather well :)
The Equitation Theory questions followed, there was nothing I didn't feel confident discussing.
Apart from one question which someone else was asked in my group and which we later found out became a bit of a nemesis of this section...
So the question was: 'How much difference do you want to see in between a working trot and a Medium trot at Elementary level?' Now, you may think the answer will lie in explaining the amount of collection, the frame, length of stride etc etc and yet we tried that and to every single answer all we got was 'Yes, but HOW MUCH?'. Ok, so is there some sort of a secret equation you can use to actually quantify that difference?

Some of my questions included:
  • what does a rider need (in terms of qualifying scores) to compete at Novice BE (so the answer is: 3 clear rounds XC at BE100 - old Pre-Novice with no more than 16 penalty points show-jumping (excluding time faults) )
  • explain what the term 'above the bit' means and how to improve/work on a horse going that way
  • use of a triple barr in a grid (I liked this one;)
  • movements required at Elementary level dressage
  • how to improve the quality of the horse's canter
  • how to introduce lateral work into horse's training
  • describe a training programme for a rider preparing for his first BE90 (Intro)
  • walking XC courses - risk assessment (types of jumps, ground condition, weather etc)
Can't remember any more now but I answered all and I am confident I made mo mistakes there. I guess we will have to see how it looks on paper!

11.45 - 12.30: DRESSAGE LESSON

This one started with a little problem. I was unaware that we had to prepare lessons plans for the ridden sessions, I thought it was for the lectures only. So a quick chat with examiner and I said I would just tell him my initial lesson plan after being briefed and take it from there. He agreed, phew!


My brief went something along the lines: "This is L. on D. and they are competing unaffiliated dressage. They are now wanting to move onto affiliated Novice BD, assess the horse's paces and training, encourage the rider to have a go at affiliated competitions, pinpoint problems and work towards getting rider ready for a Novice test bearing in mind the Scales Of Training'.

The way it worked was that we had 5-8 minutes to assess the rider and horse combination and then we had another chat with the examiner. He asked what we found and how was our lesson plan going to change so we can apply relevant work.

My rider was an absolutely lovely lady on her own very promising horse BUT their major problem was that she rode him front to back, horse's back stiff, lack of acceptance of the bit - basically lack of fundamentals so I turned my plan upside down and told the examiner we would focus primarily on developing more suppleness and work on the rhythm of the trot as well as rider's position.
That rider and that horse were the easiest pair I have EVER worked with - it was as if every single correction I made caused a text book effect! The rider finished her lesson totally inspired and the horse ...well, loved it. He was trotting long and low but all of a sudden showing these cat like paces in him and a lot of promise for more.
To top it all up the rider liked it so much she now wants to bring the horse for lessons with me :) I think they would do well affiliated in no time if she makes sure she has suppleness first with that horse before asking for more.

12.30 -1.00 XC LESSON

Private XC lesson with a rider preparing for her Stage IV exam. That was sheer fun, horse improved 100% (never underestimate praise. We started off with horse so behind the leg you may as well not use it, ears back and hand break on but with a lot of 'good boys' , some tweaks in rider's position and a way of riding and he was quickly transformed into a much more willing animal).

LUNCH

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT THEORY

Possibly the easiest part of all although I didn't think this was my forte. The examiner taking this section made it really work by encouraging us to discuss various ideas and it took a form of a an easy chat on all things to do with running a yard. Again, don't think I made any mistakes there.

SHORT BREAK awaiting my next session. They had these super sofas in their briefing room. Bliss. I also used this time to write my lessons plans for my next class and lunge lessons.


CLASS JUMPING LESSON

Potentially the only section I don't feel 100% positive about because I ran out of time and didn't include all the content I wanted in the lesson. However, I went with the speed the riders learnt what we were doing and I didn't think I could have sped things up anymore so we'll just have to see. I could have worked to a slightly different plan or amend it quicker but hey ho. I really liked the way they improved and how the horses loved that change.

Think if I was to make a single comment based on what I saw today I would say: please praise your horses, there are no machines and they do it for you because they want to please you. Appreciate this and 'talk with your aids' rather than 'shout' and 'bully'.

There is this quote I once read. Somewhere behind the athlete you've become, the practices, the coaches who pushed you, the shows you've competed in, the long time dedication, there's a little girl who just thought it would be fun to fly.Do it for her.

Make it fun for your horse and he will go to the hell and back for you.

16.45 LUNGE LESSON

I am never really worried about these and think they are my strong point and sure enough it went well. Unless I did something they didn't like (and you can fail for some peculiar things indeed) I am confident about this one. My brief was to improve the seat of a rider who was working towards her Stage IV. Very enjoyable session but I was rather shattered by then.

17.25 FINISH

Napped throughout the entire journey back to London.


10 days for the results to come by post.


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Monday, 20 July 2009

Time's up

This is basically how my whole day has looked like today with only difference that my morning was spent in the kitchen reading some Eventing/XC books including British Eventing Rule Book memorising all the course distances, heights and speeds at BE80, BE90, BE100, BE100 2 & 3 day events as well as qualifying scores etc for the latter etc etc
And most likely I will stay here till early morning hours.
I am working from 9am till 3pm tomorrow, back home to grab my bag with exam stuff, then on the train to Glos (2.5h journey), staying over in a nice hotel, wake up alarm at 6ish tomorrow, exam lasts all day, back to London (hopefully by 10pm), then working 9am till 9pm on Thursday.
Let me tell you, I am looking forward to Friday when I will hopefully just rest. Or I might try to pop over to see my friend who is not having the best of times. It's really annoying to know there is nothing you can do to help.
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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Old books on Horsemanship! And an Elementary Dressage Test from 1994



While waiting for Suzanne to give me a lift after work I started browsing some old books at the yard and what fun it was to look at those photos!

Journey back in time




These tests are from when the British Horse Society was a governing body of Dressage in the Uk (now this is in the hands of British Dressage)



Tiredness continues and my plan for tonight is to hit the pillows as early as possible and rest my brain cells.
Felt very sleepy today throughout the day but this is usually the effect of stress or an adrenaline expectation seems to have on me! Talking about old times - I remember one National show-jumping show I went to ages ago, it was my last chance to qualify for my licence for higher classes (it was in Poland and I am too tired to explain the Junior points system back then ;) and I spent entire journey in the lorry yawning like mad. Body going into stand by mode? ;)
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Saturday, 18 July 2009

Should have more self-preservation ;)

What knackers me out the most is a day that seems to want to squeeze all week into itself! I find it very tiring to quickly tune in into very different kind of lessons. Private lesson with novice adult, hack with adults, group lesson with teenagers (gave them a session on speed and let them gallop in the field, they were rather happy;), hack with a teenager, private lesson with an intermediate adult and two little kids' lessons at the end. It's like jumping from one very absorbing book to another and trying to get the best out of each. You end up with a headache. I always try to give the best as think everybody deserves to have the best experience possible but it eats me up and I end up worn out at the end of the day.
It is just as well that my station on the way back is also the last stop for the train as I was semi conscious and half asleep on my seat today.
My self-preservation must be non-existent and my body gives me no pre warning. I just seem to work, work, work as if running on some magic petrol and then once I stop the engine gives up. No red light saying 'I'm running on empty'.
That little nap on the train was good though, followed by some good old leisure on bed munching on delicious rice pudding delivered by Ricky and chatting to my dear friend I am just about feeling like a human being again.
Booked my train tickets and hotel for the exam day and will now try not to fall asleep over the BHS Equitation Manual someone kindly lend me. Some things in the Manual are so different to how I teach and what I think is correct (as I definitely believe in more classical approach to rider's education things like teaching riders to sit to the canter by moving backwards and forwards in the saddle as if "polishing" it with your bottom sound like heresy to me!!!) that I will just have to risk it and go with the system I believe it anyway.
However, the book has some good stuff in it too so shall make my way through it.

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Friday, 17 July 2009

Soaking up the knowledge


Pic. above: my rider on Intensive Training Day today. Kiran has been riding for 8 months and has always managed to have her sessions on dry days! How on earth has she managed that on this island is beyond my comprehension! Either way, she finally got to ride in the rain...and if you are to do something for the first time you might as well do it properly (Pic. below):

Despite the rain the day was good. One of my clients brought her own horse for a lesson in the morning and she got given a substantial homework to work on before the next session ;)
Then my regular novice rider who is getting the hang of the position malarkey so will be taking her on a hack next week as a nice break from hard work.
Kiran braved on through her 5 hours in the rain today and I'm really impressed by her determination. Took her up the biggest of our fields today and for the first time she was to ride without my constant instructions. I like to teach the riders to take responsibility for their own learning so although at the beginner/novice stage they need plenty of attention, a little challenge now and then seem to bring out the thinking rider in them.

I stayed longer today to "enjoy" more time in the rain "torturing" S. on her position before her Stage III exam. Her muscles are hating me that's for sure but results were encouraging so I hope she will keep up the good work and passes next week. If that was up to me she would be having a dozen more of lessons like that but there is no time left now.

Four days to my own exam. I am going to have to stay over the night before as there are no trains that would take me to Gloucestershire on time in the morning. Would rather have it all done and over with now!
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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Good evening, my name is Wiola and...

...I am addicted to coaching ;)
Had one of those fantastic days when everything clicks together. Did equally well at my driving lessons, woo hoo! If only there was 365 days like that in a year...Greedy?

Pic.above: Perfect start to the day, morning hack on a prancing, bouncing TB

Today also reminded me how much I used to like teaching teenagers on own horses. I was one of the instructors on Junior show-jumping camps back in Poland and loved it. For some reason I came across too many argumentative riders after that and often avoided teaching group teenage lessons. The way those kids rode today though really made me feel like I was wrong all along. They can be really good when they want to and maybe it was just me who lost the ability to connect with that age group for some time. I'm not saying I am converted completely but it was an absolute pleasure to teach them today.

Having no breaks during a day is exhausting though and once all the running about stops the tiredness really hits.
5 days to my exam. Can't decide whether to go to Gloucestershire an evening earlier and stay overnight for an 8am start or to travel at 5am straight to the exam...?
I'm worried about my Troubled friend too, she better gets the best of news tomorrow.
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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A happy kind of day

I had the weirdest of dreams last night which I just can't recall any of apart from waking up thinking, deary me, brain can come up with quite ridiculous plots! Anyway, the ridicule creativity of my brain cells at night had actually nothing to do with a very happy reality today.
Had some really good clients to teach as well as putting S. through her paces on the lunge. S. is training towards her Stage 3 which she is taking next week.

Me: Right, we're going to correct that crooked seat of yours. Have you ever broken your spine (cue me joking!)
S.: Yes.
Me: Ermmm, oookkk, have you ever broken your legs (again me joking!) ?
S: just the left one...
Me: oki doki, let's lift your arms up and stretch up a bit, you haven't broken your arms have you?
S: just one...

And breathe....;)
S. is actually lots of fun to work with. She probably swore at me during the lesson but was rather pleased with results afterwards.

The afternoon with our international students was a game of patience and language guess work as their English fluctuates between none at all through some basic understanding to fairly good grasp of. It's a tricky act to keep control of them on the ground but the "fun" starts when we put them on horses...
One especially cracks me up. Every time she comes she says: "Can I have faster one today?". I gave her a really nice pony today but it can be a bit behind the leg so I changed it for a up-for-it TB mare and she says: "I see this one last lesson, it is not fast". 199, 198, 197, 196 - and counting. Finally I say: "Honey we are not a racing stable, none of these horses are fast...you are riding a lovely pony today, ok?" 195, 194, 193...

Work over I finally got to see my lovely friend for a bit of catching up with lives' whereabouts, a bit of stuffing stomachs with some food, a bit of laughter, playing with her puppy and a bit of driving around. It makes me sad to think people I love seeing the most I actually barely get to see. Fingers crossed the end of this week brings only good news for you my dear.

Pic. Dash the puppy.

You can't buy loyalty, they say
I bought it though, the other day;
You can't buy friendship, tried and true,
But just the same, I bought that too.

I made my bid, and on the spot
Bought love and faith and a whole job lot
Of happiness, so all in all
The purchase price was pretty small

I bought a single trusting heart,
That gave devotion from the start
If you think these things are not for sale,
Buy a brown-eyed puppy with a wagging tail.

Author Unknown

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Leg Yield exercise for Dressage Riders

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2010 Radio Show by SUCCEED Episode 46 - The Largest Shipment of Horses in History

Episode 46

The Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games will be the largest movement of horses in history with over 600 horses on round trip flights from all corners of the earth. Henry Bullen of Peden Bloodstock and Jackie Potts, International Groom to William Fox-Pitt, join us to discuss this massive undertaking. Listen in...

2010 Radio Show by SUCCEED Episode 46 - The Largest Shipment of Horses in History:

  • Lot's of news this week and we get an update from Chrissy Joy at the WEG Offices.

  • Well, it turned out to quite an Independence Day Celebration for Steffen Peters and Ravel at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen over the weekend. More...

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  • Let's come back stateside now, and it doesn't get much more American than the annual NRHA Derby in Oklahoma. The heat was on, literally. Triple digit temperatures meant that even air conditioned show rings weren't enough for the top tier reiners competing for the USEF Mahajan Trophy and the Open Reining Championship.

  • Our spotlight para-equestrian Susan Treabess, also had a good Independence Day weekend, making like Steffen Peters and Ravel and cleaning up! More...

  • Thank you to Henry Bullen of Peden Bloodstock International Horse Shipping Agents for joining us explain the preparations they are making to get ready for the 2010 Games.

  • What a great sport Jackie Potts was to join us and tell us what transporting horses is like from the grooms point of view.

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Monday, 13 July 2009

You know when you should be doing something but...

...instead you find yourself trying to do it the whole day round? Well, that's me today ;) I am reading and reading, and revising (plus stuffing myself with very yummy blueberries with Madagascan vanilla cream) and revising then find myself drifting away with some thoughts that should wait until my exam is over, then back in focus, then off again.
Back into focus now hopefully!
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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Ok, so decision has been made...and a snippet pre-view of my Project...

Following today's meeting, my Big Little Project has gotten all clear so decision has been made. I am going to invest my time, my current knowledge and passion into this Project. This means lots and lots of teaching and not enough riding. It's my forever dilemma: to teach or to ride? To earn a living or live in the saddle on bread and water?

I had to be brutally honest with myself and if it means I don't have what it takes then so be it. I am not prepared to damage my health by living rough and riding horses nobody wants to ride because they are too dangerous. Part of me admires people who do it and their determination to get to the top of the game but having spent months in hospital in my youth I quite cherish life on my own feet. I have no financial back up to buy and most of all to compete & produce nice young horses (thing I would love to do). Neither do I have my family with me here should I want to try competing on a shoestring. Neither do I have an outstanding talent to be spotted by Mystical Lottery Funding. I am a foreigner so nobody here would ever feel any national pride to do with my hidden Olympic talents ;) Hence, sponsorship highly unlikely!

Let's start from the beginning though so as not to make things too confusing (which can sometimes be my forte;).

Initially I wanted to wait with the decision until after the exam but life as always in my case seems to happen when I make other plans ;) This time in a positive context.
I mentioned not so long ago (post here) about various thoughts on future plans. Due to an unfortunate event that is costing me a small fortune and digs into my savings we can't pursue the initial plans of moving out of London. It took me a few weeks to deal with this without feeling angry but hey, what happens happens and we have to find the good sides in everything.

The thinking behind the move was to make it possible for me to increase own training and go back into competing more seriously.
This being no longer an option I put together many little ideas I've been pondering on for quite some time which resulted in creating a brief/pitch of an equestrian academy project. It's a unique training arrangement project for pleasure riders.

The below is a fragment of the brief I wrote for the owner of the yard where I will have my London/Surrey base. One of the reasons it took the shape it did is that I think there is such fantastic net of support here for people who already own horses and ponies but a pleasure rider, a potential owner to be, a potential top class rider-some-day-in-future, is very much left alone without enough support. Having worked at various places, from big yards to tiny stables, I am starting to see the gaps and reasons for lack of retention of clients so I am hoping to address that while continuing my learning...

[What is the (name to be added) EQUESTRIAN ACADEMY? The Academy is an idea of a freelance riding instructor passionate about the sport, the well being of school horses and riders’ development who wanted to create a very unique training experience for a pleasure rider.

* You may find that an average riding school service of an hour ride-and-go doesn’t suit you and you would want to learn more about horse care and the training of both the horse and a rider as athletes.

* You may be looking for an interesting, fascinating sport to be involved in.

* You may have your own horse but would love to experience a structured, focused coaching.

* OR you may have started thinking about a horse of your own, but are concerned about where to start, the extent of the commitment and whether you are experienced enough to take on such a responsibility.

The Academy gives you a chance to join in a one of a kind experience of FUN, SKILL, FITNESS AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE while participating in a FABULOUS SPORT.

Joining the academy and how does it work?

The Academy is designed to develop the rider as an athlete via varied, professional and exciting Programme. We welcome riders and riders-to-be of ALL levels from 12 yrs old to 62 and upwards, whether you always wanted to ride but never found a good time to have a go, whether you’ve been riding for years, are a once a week rider or are a horse owner already, please do read on.

Joining the Academy is like having a very special Personal Trainer who not only keeps you fit but also makes sure you have plenty of fun along the way and learn the ins and out of a very unique, fascinating sport where you work in harmony with another living creature.

You will have access to an exciting Training Programme (incorporating both sports specific and generic elements) and Training Schedule written especially for you as well as being able to treat the Academy Horse as if it was your own.

The monthly fee for The Academy is (TBC) per calendar month if joining the 6 monthly Programme and includes the following...]

Full details to follow, all I can promise is that it's nothing a pleasure rider will find anywhere else in the country...

Once the exam is over and done with I will have, among million of other things, a grand task of writing a business plan for the Project, putting it all in legitimate writing in a form of a contract, setting up another meeting with yard owner to sign off the contract, finding suitable horses to buy to join the team we already have, build a marketing plan for the Project and make it known...

It's all very exciting as well as scary in the same time! I am hoping I can cope with the extent of it and that I am not going for something I can't bite. I *know* I can do this well but in the same time it will be jumping into deep waters! What if it doesn't work? It does. It will. What if it doesn't? You get the picture...

What will be will be. Either way, you will know about it.

“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”

Charles F. Kettering


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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Something Special for London riders and riders-to-be

Somewhere in between my teaching, riding, learning, revising and trying to find time to sleep I've been working my brains on something really special for London riders and riders-to-be. I didn't want to talk too much about it (and still won't yet!) as I wanted first to at least get the go-ahead from the yards I want to base the project at. They are happy to discuss further so keep your fingers crossed :) 
Once every all clear is given and we get going I will post every little detail. For now, please lots of positive vibes will be great!


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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Busy Busy, Summer BBQ and Dental saga continues


Barnfield Riding School filled up the air with the wonderful scent of summer BBQ on Sunday night. I taught until 5.30pm with the last lesson being with with Mr.Z who could not wait to dismount and start the party!
The owner breeds flat coated Retrievers (very successful at pedigree shows may I add:) and they were such a funny bunch. I also managed to convince Ricky to come so he got given a little stable tour. Amazingly I finally took a super sneaky photo of him too but I am not allowed to put it up, private person as he is. What a shame ;)
Anyway, enjoy some snippets from the evening:



My day off yesterday and I did a lot of tidying up of the house, washing, hoovering and moving things around as well as creating a bit of my own space for all the important revising to exams etc and planning of the Training Days so you guys learn a lot and improve.
The afternoon I spent on my dentist chair having had the second phase of Fix My Teeth adventure. Looks like I also convinced my dentist to come to a Training Day ;)

No long till I have to leave for work so I am going to squeeze some revising in and then off to teach.
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Saturday, 4 July 2009

2010 Radio Show Episode 45 - Spotlight Vaulters: English Vaulting Squad

English Vaulting Squad

Left to right: Lydia Barham, Emma Runge, Paige Brown, Megan Bignell, Steph Hunter, Sara Shortland, Sarah Reid and Coach Julie Newell"

The ticket prices are announced and we discuss them with Ellen Gregory, PR for the WEG Foundation. Plus, we reveal our choice for the 2010 Radio Show Spotlight Vaulters this week. This is the only discipline where we will be following a team in their quest to qualify and get selected for the Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games. Congratulations to the English Vaulting Squad and hear what they had to say. Listen in...

2010 Radio Show Episode 45 - Spotlight Vaulters: English Vaulting Squad:

  • The winners of the June Radio Show Giveaway were:

  • The new giveaway for July will start within the week. Check back.

  • The big news of the week was that the ticket prices have been set and released! Tickets will go on sale September 25, 2009, exactly one year before the Games arrive in Kentucky.

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  • Approximately 600,000 tickets will be available with prices starting as low as $25. Ticket sales will be facilitated by the 2010 Games Ticketing Provider, Ticketmaster, Inc. All ticket sales will be completed online at the Games Web site, www.alltechfeigames.com, beginning on September 25, 2009.

  • The other big news this week coming out of the Kentucky Horse Park is that there will be no dogs going into the Horse Park next year during the World Equestrian Games. More...

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  • The US show-jumpers will be defending their lead in the Meydan FEI Nations Cup. After two wins early on, they finished a close second in Rotterdam a couple of weeks ago.

  • Horsemania is coming back to Lexington. Those fantastic, decorated, fibreglass horses that popped up all over town in the year 2000 will make a reappearance next year in time for the World Equestrian Games.

  • You might find it hard pressed to think what Lexington and the surrounding counties have in common with Napa Valley, but not for long. This year the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a tour of eight distilleries, celebrates it's tenth anniversary, and it's getting ever more popular.

  • We are thrilled to announce the Spotlight team we will be following for Vaulting from now through the 2010 Games. We would like to congratulate the English Riding Squad out of England for being our Spotlight team! The English Vaulting Squad was formed in 2000 by a group of committed vaulters and parents who wished to advance up to International level. We had a chance to speak with Gill Barham and a couple of the kids on the team as they were preparing to leave for Achen for a big competition.
  • __________________________

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