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...

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