Sunday, 23 September 2012

In Memory Of My Grandfather

My dad phoned tonight to pass the sad news. I guess we expect the elderly loved ones to leave us sooner or later and yet it still comes as a shock. My brother and I grew up very close to my grandparents. And now he's gone...

Hurry up 

Hurry up to love people, they pass away so fast 
Only shoes and silent telephone remains 
Only what is trivial lags like a cow 
The most important is so beautiful that occurs suddenly 
Afterwards natural silence therefore unbearable 
Like purity born straightforward from distress 
When we think about someone, remaining without them 

Don't be sure that you still have time, because certai
nty is vague
It takes away compassion like any joy
It comes simultaneously with pathos and humour
Like two passions still weaker than one
They go away fast like thrush falling silent in July
Like sound a bit awkward or emotionless bow
To see decently they close their eyes
Though greater risk is to be born than to die
We still love too little and always too late

Don't write about it often but once and forever
and you will be like a dolphin gentle and powerful

Hurry up to love people, they pass away so fast
And those who perish, not always return
And we never know talking about love,
Is the first the last, or is the last the first?

Jan Twardowski

RIP Grandad :((((((

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunday Morning on Video

7:30 My dear friend who always takes me to work on Sunday mornings rings to tell me that she left her lights on in her car for the night and the accumulator is down...She says she will organise another car...
7:45 Friend rings to say she "got" a car so now someone is going to drive us to town centre so we can pick it up. Cool. I check the time and know we are going to be late. Not good.
8:05 We arrive at the place where "new" car lives. The passenger seat is half broken so I sit with a significant twist in my spine - a bit of morning gymnastics as the journey takes a good hour.
8:10 We can't start the car
8:15 Car owner gets out of bed again to drive the car out of the car park. He manages to start the car OK. Friend's brother says the car often doesn't start so we might not be able to come back. Cool.
I check the time. Not cool! I try to open the window and the handle stays in my hand.
8:25 We finally hit the road. The car comes with a few instructions which I recorded below:

Amazingly, we arrive only 20 minutes late and I have a fabulous day teaching in the sunshine, getting my farmer's tan and sun kissed hair highlights as a bonus!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Figuring Things Out

Although I am spending hours on my laptop reading and learning I've been updating sporadically on here so apologies to all who check regularly and see no new updates.
Pretty much same old here right now ;) I am pursuing an acquisition of the investment idea (into my Aspire programmes) by researching the details of my broad plan and by learning more about business side of things. Admittedly I am finding it frustrating at times because I would much rather put these efforts into developing my coaching and training skills but it seems that for Academy to succeed I really need to become a businesswoman :-/
I've been around self-employed parents and family members since I can remember so being resourceful and somewhat multitasking are familiar waters to me. The perfectionist in me wants to devote my time to one thing only but in reality this is not possible.

Pic above: Aspire Intensive Training Day today. Introduction to building jumping courses and pacing distances. More photos on Academy's Facebook page on here: CLICK 

If anyone fancy sending any links to anything to do with finding an investor(s) please do. Although I do have quite a strong vision for the whole project I am trying to do my background learning first before jumping in...Huge thank you to a certain reader from across the pond who already contacted me with some wonderful advice. I really appreciate it.

I am sure you are also wondering how is Kingsley doing. Well, he is as much a mystery as ever. Following the few weeks of being totally crippled on all 4 legs he is now feeling and looking very well. He is on 2 sachets of Bute a day for another week or so (in total about a month on Bute) and right now he lives out 24/7 since Wednesday.
It might be that the free movement is helping him a lot or it might be that the painkillers are doing the job. There will run out soon so we will know whether he is able to be comfortable without them. I admit I lost faith in him ever becoming a riding horse in any form, at least not until we know what the problem is and how to address it. He is a pet and a very expensive one.

One thing we never tried with him was to turn him out for a year with no ridden exercise. We didn't try this because we were advised by a vet (not the current one) to continue with rehabilitation process as otherwise he is too weak in his body to function correctly.

It might be the case that a year off with a constant movement helps somewhat but one thought that comes back to me is that when we got him in the first place he looked exactly like a horse that lived out for some time: he tail was eaten by youngsters he was out with, he was in "field condition" with poor overgrown feet. He went lame a few days into being brought back into work (on the lunge/in hand).
It's a wrenching decision to make. On one hand, we know pretty well now that he won't make a riding partner neither for Pauline, myself or anyone else. On the other, when he seems happy and content with life euthanising him feels wrong :-/
Lots will now depend on affordability of a livery for this dear pet and on what he feels like when the Bute is out of his system.

On a separate note, I would like to say I'm really sorry to hear about passing away of an old friend's horse. It's a friend from what seems like, another life - life of training, show-jumping and competing. Something I miss deeply. Her very old photos took me on the trip down the memory lane...
I vividly remember one training session in a very small indoor arena. Gusia was riding Graal and I was riding Fetas. Graal was believed to be a rig and Fetas was a stallion and both boys tried to dominate each other to the point where Graal would bolt across the arena and attack Fetas. I recall our trainer, Grzegorz Kubiak, having to arrange the jumps and rounds in such way that we were always on opposite sides of arena and divided by jumps!
The blog she writes is in Polish but photos can be understood by anyone. Rest in peace Graal - click here for Gusia's blog post.

To finish off a few words on goals and persistence that I really agree with...


Monday, 12 March 2012

Third Place in Equestrian Social Media Awards :)

I've just came back from spending a week with my family and whilst away I received this fabulous news! My little coaching project has been growing steadily and we placed third in Equestrian Social Media Awards for Best Use Of Social Media by a Riding School!

Once again, huge huge thanks to all out supporters because without you there would be no aspirations for Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy :-D
The first two places are taken by massive organisations so a third place in such company of very well established big guns feels good!

Thank you All :-D


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Shadow Training Day with Anna Ross

This is a backdated post because I am having too much to catch up with! On Saturday, I took seven riders with me to one of Academy's unique Shadow Training Days with an international dressage rider and trainer, Anna Ross Davies. Few years ago Anna gave me a chance to learn from her and I realised there and then what a wonderful training - by - watching opportunity that was. It's not just sitting and starring, Anna always gave me a running commentary on what was happening, the why's, what's and what for's. As well as many other riders, I learn by active observation and wanted the Academy riders to experience the educational and inspirational element of such days.

It took me about four hours to edit the below video so I hope you'll enjoy it! ;)


Monday, 30 January 2012

Hoof Ride's London Horse Network Meeting

Facebook: HOOF RIDE
It took my friend and I almost two hours of driving from Berkshire to Brixton but after some weak attempts at map reading and direction guessing we found The Ebony Horse Club, the place for yet another great initiative from Hoof Ride. I've enjoyed attending the meetings and seminars for the last year and I feel like they gave me a much better understanding of the industry as a whole.
Today it was all about marketing and PR, something I probably feel the strongest at but nevertheless it always helps to learn from pros.

It is very true that you can have the best possible service or product but if nobody knows about it, that value is lost.
The speaker in the morning was Jane Fraser and she talked us through some basics of SWOT analysis as well as being able to describe the businesses for what they really offer. It was all done in form of an interactive exercise which allows for comparing the problem areas as well as strong points.
Jane gave us some useful advice on how to write press releases and understand the good timing for various events.
One exercise in particular provoked a discussion on staff retention.
From the point of view of someone who was employed by many riding establishments for number of years I find it interesting that some issues the horse businesses encounter that relate to staff are the same in 2012 as they were in 2002...I guess all of us who work as grooms, instructors, bring-this-tack-up-that type staff know how we would like to be treated and what floats our employment boats but why are there no changes and same problems year after year? Do we not communicate effectively? Is it that the demands cannot be met for some reason? And if so, why?
I don't have the answers to those questions and until I employ people to work for me I don't think I can objectively assess the situation.
My opinion is that the money isn't as big a problem as some employers might think. Sure if the pay is very low nobody will want to stay for long but it's the simple respect and attention to individual needs that's important. I have friends working very long hours, mucking out 15 stables a day, tacking up horses, feeding, haying up in the fields, rushing through the day to get everything done and I have done it  myself in the past. It's hard physical work and I personally did it to be able to ride and train and so do many of my friends.
Someone said to me recently "you know, it would be nice if during an especially hard day, my employer noticed I'm running on empty and said - hey, have 10 more minutes for your coffee break, catch your breath - I would have appreciated that hundred times more than that £10 more for staying after hours".
I feel lucky to be in charge of my time and to be able to rest when I feel I need now so the quality of my job is always as high as I wish it to be but there were many days were I could identify with this statement.
Perhaps what really needs addressing is the hiring process so young people are understood, their motives known (and re-checked periodically as they change all the time) and their life plans helped with. If it's a "lifestyle reward" industry then maybe more attention is needed to non-monetary benefits.
If biggest reward for a low paid groom is to make horses in her charge look and feel great then giving her ten horses to care for with one hour a day to do them all is not going to give her any job satisfaction...

Sad procedures are still very much in place even at well regarded, nicely presented establishments. Even being freelance you come across people who think that if they pay you enough they don't have to bother with your feelings, needs or opinions. You are just a mucker-outer, horse exerciser or money maker (when you teach) they can pick and drop as they wish.
But then again, I am sure there will be people out there arguing that such situation is common across other professions, other industries...

I'm an idealist and would love to see happy people doing what they love and having pleasure doing it. Whether it is possible in real life? I hope so. It's great these issues are discussed and there are employers out there though who stroke the right balance.

I do love to see places like Ebony Horse Club. No idea about staff satisfaction there but it's one great place that must be changing so many lives in the area.

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