Thursday 9 October 2014

Under the rainbow

I do love a long autumn walk with a cup of coffee and some rainbow cheer :) We managed a rain-sun-rain one in the afternoon yesterday, watching some rowers on the river fighting with the wind and just enjoying the change the air...


Wednesday 8 October 2014

Three weeks of dashing between countries and counties

On way from Lodz, Poland to London, UK...the commute with a view :) I am not a big fan of flying but could stare at cloudscapes for hours...the ones on this flight reminded me of  heaps of semi-melted marshmallows floating on top of a giant mug of milky hot chocolate! 

The last three weeks were a whirlwind of travel, organisation, emotions and restlessness. You know how we are told by "experts" to have a good rest when we feel tired to re-charge and avoid fatigue? Well that is all good for when we do feel tired. I often feel betrayed by my own lack of self-preservation which allows me to work for insane number of hours per day and carry on each step on some inexplicable source of energy. Then, as if all of a sudden realising that it was a mistake, I come crashing with the sofa, laptop and a cup of tea as the only places and activities that seem remotely possible.

The clinic in Poland went really well. Seeing the riders develop their relationship with the horses and that in turn letting them achieve better results in training is what I enjoyed the most during the weekend. I do believe that to teach an animal anything at all, we must get into its brain, it must understand, comprehend the task in a way that allows it to follow instruction with as little physical and mental resistance possible.

Photo from clinic at Stajnia Sabat, near Warsaw, Poland. I used this picture in the last Aspire's newsletter, love that quote!

If you struggle repeatedly with a training issue with your horse, double and triple check he understands the question. So many times we focus on resolving problems with exercises and equipment instead of finding a different way of approaching the subject in the first place. Even though I've been working with horses for over 20 years and I can see signs of their intelligence every day, I am not so sure about efficacy of training methods that suppose human-like intelligence in an equine. In fact, I consider it quite offensive to the horse ;)
Let's say, young wolves learn about hierarchy by many herd behaviours including eating certain parts of an animal they hunted and killed. They don't sit in a classroom and learn about history of canis lupus genes.

Same horses. Their learning process is different to ours and it is the trainer's/rider's duty to either learn it from someone or discover it from behavioural signs the horse gives. The moment we train horses' physical attributes without treating them like people, or dogs, or children, but like the species they are, we get content animals happy to work with us. It's fascinating to observe how athletic abilities improve with mental coherence.

My lovely cousin, Karolina, who works so hard on regaining trust and build a good relationship with Krater whom she has on loan and who has various unpleasant training experiences behind him . They've made a huge progress together in the last year :) 

More pictures from Poland HERE. My clinics in Poland are a great way for me to visit my family which is both wonderful and a little sad. I enjoy every moment and savour it and go ahead quite happily but there is always this element of sadness in goodbyes which underlines the price one sometimes has to pay for pursuing path less travelled.

My beautiful little niece enjoying some pressies :) She's such a character already despite only being around for 3 years ;) 

Meet Tymon, my fab little nephew, 10 months old and I've only seen him handful of times...

The time pass so quickly when I am there. Between coffees and window shopping with my mum, joking around with my brother, driving about and chatting with my dad, dinners and evenings with my aunt, cousins and grandparents before I knew it I was back in the clouds.

My book for the flight - a gift from my Aunt - fantastic read, click this sentence  to see the English version

A couple of days at home with Rick with few lessons with regular clients fitted in and then back on the road again - this time to North Yorkshire. There is an interesting mix of clients that sign up for my clinics there from professionals working in the industry, through to teenagers eventing at lower levels, inquisitive adult riders to happy hackers and (a first this time) children.

Several regular riders who I have seen previously signed up this time too and that's probably what I enjoy the most - seeing riders change and progress over time, helping them find some more answers to various training questions, come up with exercises that awaken body awareness and make schooling more effective, chatting through issues. I had Ceri (Pure Essence Photography) taking pictures at this clinic and you can see the full set on Aspire blog HERE.

Very clever 3 year old TB off the track. Starting in-hand work here, learning to walk on a circle. He's got an amazing attitude and willingness to work. 

Now I am back and having a few quieter days to get back into the swing of things and give my body a little rest. I need to upload all the videos I took from both clinics which takes a while on a not so fast internet connection! So far I managed almost all Poland videos so now I have a set from Yorkshire to do.

The autumn has truly arrived in London home counties. It's chilly albeit still sunny at times with equal amounts of rain and rainbow :) I am not too bothered about the change of seasons, quite looking forward to it. So many things to reflect on, think about, make plans - perfect filler for dark, winter evenings.
This year is very much a transition year from all the training back to teaching and re-building the Aspire programmes and although I am very much in-the-present kind of person, I also have started to tentatively look at next year. There will be a lot of make-or-break situations in 2015 and I am anxiously awaiting the challenges.
But for now, I do like sitting here with my laptop, writing, reading and just feeling grateful for all the fabulous opportunities I have experienced so far :)
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