Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 25 July 2014

Putting in the hours

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

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

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


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

Until next time :)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Why it's vitally important to believe in Unicorns

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, 21 July 2014

Pondering on habits, productivity and mobility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night night for now :)

Saturday, 19 July 2014


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

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

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

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

Hope you are having a lovely weekend :) 


Friday, 18 July 2014

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

"The beginning is always today". Mary Wollstonecraft

Hello Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for stopping by :)

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

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