Sunday 8 December 2013

A little upbeat introduction to 2014 :)

Let me know if you like it :)

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


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,

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