Tuesday 23 February 2016

Thinking ahead, reflections on the training camp, organising the next Poland clinic and choosing the puppy!

Morning with Una's nose ;) 

I suppose it's time for an update so if you're happy to sit down to some waffling, here we go ;)
If daydreaming was a job, I think I might not be too bad at it. Someone once told me that if you can imagine something, truly see it in your mind's eye, you can make it happen. I quite like that thinking ;)
It does work in my teaching amazingly well although I couldn't tell you how and why. When I look at a horse and rider I like to picture them well ahead of where they are at the time, see how they might move, sit, react to problems and then let that image dictate what I ask them to do in the meantime. I like to have mid-way images too, you know, the kind of in between stage of progress.

It's similar to when I school a horse. If I want to teach something new or go over a particular issue, I picture in my mind how their legs would move, where their weight will go, how they might want to feel and only then ask for movement to happen. If I do it right, it works every time.

Since the beginning of the year I've been more and more thinking ahead to the next steps with the Academy biz. See how it could be in my mind's eye. I think I can make it happen...

Last weekend was the two mad days of the February training camp. It was probably my favourite one to date due to the improvement in all the riders and horses not just throughout the weekend but in their overall training. It's truly a privilege to have this job, I don't think I could ever tire with it as long as it is possible for me to run it better and better. Standing still is never going to be an option.

Figuring out how different people learn and acquire skills is an adventure in itself! Pushing riders out of their comfort zone in order for them to improve is not that dissimilar to pushing a horse to learn a new skill. Both will fight it a little until something makes sense. Contrary to the belief of some of my riders who think I relish their tortures ;) I don't particularly enjoy those stages of learning process.
I much rather see everyone confident in what they do but sadly that's not possible from the word go. Sometimes they trust me enough to give new things a try, sometimes they don't but eventually I hope to find a way for everyone to get where they would like to end up :)
If you teach anything or ever attempted to you might know what I mean.

The May clinic in Poland enters early organisational stages and right now I think my parents are the ones most excited about it all! Organising is not my forte, I love just being in the middle of it all and getting things done but hey ho, someone's got to do the behind the scenes stuff too and yes it all starts two months prior! The one great part is that this time I have my lovely Mum organising it with me rather than doing everything by myself. We've had some fun booking accommodation and transport logistics last week and she amused me today with planning some meals arrangements for the riders ;)

Another thing that happened over the last weekend was arrival of our "life-before-Portugal" in some 18 boxes! It's odd to unpack one's own life from 4 years ago, I spent the last several years with a handful of clothes and similar handful of various possessions and it made me realise I haven't missed many of the ones that arrived. Maybe with an exceptions of my books, I was very pleased to have those back!

Possibly most exciting event of this week and the one that makes me feel about 5 years old again in times when Santa was real, is the puppy choosing day! I don't know how many of you dear readers are dog people but I can't even start to tell you what it means to me to be able to have my own dog again. I still have another 4 weeks of waiting before I can pick my puppy up but I wish the week would just hurry up so I can go and at least meet all the pups in person. Get ready for a lot of photos soon!!



Sunday 14 February 2016

St Valentines Day...

You see, there are not enough soul mates in the world to satisfy the pockets of Valentine's Day cards and gifts sellers. We now have Valentine's cards for dogs, fish, horses and the neighbour who holds the post for us every week.

Touching when part of a true exchange of an ongoing affection, sad when simply a yearly duty. Uplifting and unique to each of us in principle. Wholesale in street version. 

A nice reminder nevertheless. Of the moments of special stillness and timeless value; days of golden sun rays that highlight all other colours but the raw pink of the burnt skin and days of rain that is soft, warm and aquamarine blue like in Disney movies and not transparent and cold like when you wait for a late bus. 

A reminder, an opportunity for conscious appreciation of the loved ones, friends and well wishers. 
A reminder to cherish a chance to experience what the romantics mean by meeting your soul mate. 

I don't know if karma exists, if astrology is real, if shit ever hits the fan. 
I don't know what I have done to deserve the kind of people I've been lucky to meet over the years. 
I know, however, the value of all the moments I have had with them. 
Moments no cards can buy and no technology can rewind. 


Monday 8 February 2016

Not about horses

Worth remembering...


Tuesday 2 February 2016

R.I.P. Shabhash...

Shabby with his owner, Emma. August 2015
- "You have twenty minutes to get better Shabby, Caitlin is almost here for your lesson! - I say to the little bay thoroughbred as we watch him being slightly out of sorts. He's just not quite himself even though there is nothing particularly and obviously wrong with him.
After checking his temperature and watching him for a while, we decide to let him be. I say I'll check on him in ten minutes, go and organise the tack for his lesson and don't think much of it.

In one of my lectures during the coaching degree we had this chat with a sports psychology tutor. They were discussing with us how it's very important not to have favourites when we teach or ride, to try to make sure our riders and horses always get the same attention and same quality of lessons. Here is the thing. You might try and you might give your best but if you are truly honest with yourself you will know there are always people and horses who pull on your heart strings that little bit more and you can't help yourself but favourite them just that little bit.

Shabby is my heart string horse and little did I know when strolling to his stable for that ten minutes check up, that I would never teach on him again.

It takes just about a couple of seconds for me to realise he is not at all fine. He is on the floor again, stuck this time and it takes all my effort to pull him far enough from the wall so he can lie down in a semi-normal position. He is quiet and peaceful. Too peaceful. I call Emma just in case because all this just looks too odd and I know if this was my horse I would want to know. Few minutes later he is attempting to roll again. I can't get him up by myself though so I get out and get help.

It's about 17:25 on Monday evening. By 10pm on 1st of February 2016 Shabby is put to sleep.

There are horses much more capable out there than he was but Shabby had this big heart that made me look forward to every single lesson ever since I got to meet him in the autumn of 2014. It didn't matter that he invented his own versions of dressage tests and his own version of dressage movements. We laughed with Emma that he had his own walk half-pass which we called Sha-pass. He sang in canter. The oddest, funniest sounds. He did cricket scores show jumping. But he tried and tried and tried again and he was a lion cross country.

It took many hours of work and perseverance and a lot of belief but he did us proud so many times.
I trusted him with my young riders even when he carted them around the cross country course or the arena. I knew that as long as they stay calm, he will eventually stop and smile as if to say, there, now you'd ridden at speed.

The best ex-racehorse I have ever had a privilege to teach on - not because of his competition results or scope or stunning movement but because when the horse does the best he can do for you and add some more, you know about it and you better appreciate it.

Run free Shab. I will miss you.

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