Equestrian Cyber Bullying…

“Tis the season to be jolly”…Or is it?

“Tis the season to be jolly”…The famous line from one of the most well known christmas carols, and yet the reality of christmas leaves many people feeling less than festive.

When you are young christmas is the most exciting time of the year. I still remember waking up at 5am to check the end of my bed to see if Santa had been. I got to spend the day with my cousins and my grandparents, and everything that I remember about that day was bright and shiny and exciting.

Is it that as adults we miss that sense of pure joy? Or it is that at this time we evaluate our lives? We think back to the image we had as a kid of what our lives would like like, and think…oops!

When I moved overseas I didn’t have any family living here, and for me christmas represented a day where I could go to my horse and there was no-one, and I loved it. To be the only ones in the whole world on that day just doing what I love to do. But other people got in the road of that. They would ask me, sometimes up to ten different people a day, starting from about the week before christmas, “What will you do for christmas?”. I would reply “ride my horse”, and they would look at me like “You poor sad pathetic homeless girl”, which was not the case at all, as I was perfectly fine. There was one time I even made something up, just because I didn’t want the pity, but then I thought why should I?

I believe more than anything it’s the expectations people put on christmas that ruins it, for them and for others. The expectations that the meal be perfect so the person cooking has to worry about it for a week before. The expectations that family will need to get along, which inevitable ends in a heated family discussion/argument between two people who never liked eachother but were forced together for the occasion. The belief that if you are alone you are somehow to be felt sorry for, when in reality it’s just one day…What about caring if that person is alone for the other 364 days of the year?

A study was released that reported “People say that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.” (psychology today)

This I know to be true.

Anyone who lost a very close family member early on will tell you that christmas after that, even if they were still a child, was never the same.

In fact, it became a day where you would sit around a table, decorated and warm, full of people that you love, but somehow instead of seeing all the people you love, all you would feel was the absense of the person that you once loved, who was no longer there, at that table. The table was full, and yet it was empty.

So actually I loved christmas in Portugal even when I was alone, because there wasn’t suppose to be anyone there that was missing. Yes my family were in Australia, but that’s where they were suppose to be.

It sounds strange, but I felt a sense of freedom from the expectation, and I could just enjoy the day.

Truth is though, if my dad hadn’t died when I was young, I would be one of those people with the tree warming up towards the end of November. The type of person who asks you in late august if you thought about what you want for christmas, and the person who, with absolute pleasure, cooks christmas dinner for everyone she knows.

A part of me is still that person. Recently I had dinner with a couple who I genuinely admire, and the wife was asking me “where my christmas tree was?”. I could see in her eyes everything that is still good about christmas. Forget the commercialism and the overeating, and the waste from the commercialism and the overeating…She had that warm excited child look, which I think every adult is lucky to hold to, even in just a small way.

I have that when I am with animals. Animals were the part of my childhood where I was free from everything else. At one point I had a magpie (gobble docks), a kangaroo(millie), two dogs ( beron and eddie), a cow (goosebumps), and my pony (jimbo) and so when I am with animals I feel like I am 6 years old again.

That’s what I saw in this beautiful person, that sense of warmth and care, and for lack of a better way to put it “christmas spirit” that I think is what still makes a part of this holiday truly good.

I worry about all the people that are alone this christmas, or are alone for the first time after a breakup or divorce, or are at a table where someone is missing… And to those people I think the best you can do is to be kind to yourself. Don’t expect it to be a miracle magical day, but instead just enjoy the best bit…Maybe it’s the dessert that you only have on christmas, or your crazy aunt that keeps things entertaining…Maybe it’s your dog who enjoys the turkey you cook more than you do, or maybe it’s going to ride your horse on a day when there is no traffic, and no noise…Focus on that one thing and who knows, it might not turn out as bad as you thought it would, or better still, you might even enjoy it!

 

What type of Horse Rider are you?

I have thought about this a lot recently as I face not riding again. The question why do I love riding so much comes to mind…What is it about being on a horse that I crave, as I do crave it, it becomes almost like an addiction. Ask any person who has lived and breathed horses all their life and they will tell you. The thought of not riding is almost unthinkable.

I have read on this subject, articles that outline the different types of riders, and throughout my many years watching my mum teach all sorts of different students, I came to see that there are many many different ways to love and be drawn to riding.

The most common I see is the rider who is afraid of the horse, but loves him anyway. This is the person who typically spends more time grooming than actually riding, and I have grown to admire this person the older I get. The person who spends countless hours with their horse, just in his presence, only to pop on for ten minutes, praying it goes ok, and then return to the stable to again pamper him as if he was the king of her world. A person who in spite of their fear finds comfort and purpose in being near this wonderful animal.

Another is the competitor. This person started off with a deep love of horses, and gradually it became their job. They still love the horse, but don’t get the luxury to spend as much time with him as they would like to and sometimes find themselves missing the days when they didn’t have clients and calendar commitments, and they could just use riding as their escape from life, not as their life itself.

The next is the passionate learner. This rider has spent their entire life on and off the horse reading and thinking and arguing (often heated at it times) over the correct training principles. They love to discuss the horse as much they love to ride him, and they find huge reward in the teaching of the horse, the lifelong journey of finding harmony with mans best friend. They are saddened today to see what the competition world has become and often feel puzzled or even angry watching the warm-ups of some (not all) of todays top riders.

The next is the thrill seeker. They love the more adrenaline filled disciplines and may or may not care for the accolades at the finish but more the out of control feeling they get on the course. They love to let go, because perhaps in other areas of their lives they are particularly organised and strict, or maybe the contrary, they are always a bit on the messy side, and this allows them to bring that out and make something of it.

You may not fit into any of these categories, in which case you would be like me. I am a combination of all of these. I grew up on a huge farm, and still to this day my favourite thing ever to do on the horse was to gallop across the paddock at home and bring the cattle in from out the back, with my Kelpie at my side. There is no greater feeling than that where the only two people in the world are you and your horse. You can create this in the competition arena, or in a crowded training ground, and this is the feeling that we as riders crave. When the rest of the world disappears and it is just us….I also have a piece of every other category. I love to fly across a cross country course my heart beating. I love to teach my horse piaffe and feel him learning and getting excited that he knows and understands what I want. I love to ride into the competition ring, to the sound of applause, and feel my horse grow a little underneath me. And I love to talk to my mother for hours on end about impulsion or collection, and watch videos, and discuss scores or tests, or what exercise would help best with our latest conundrum.  And I also love to just be around the horse, and quite often I am scared…scared to fall, scared to be injured, scared that he will fall or be injured.

Horse riding becomes an addiction, it’s a passion that overtakes us and drives a huge part of our lives. I know before I even begin a conversation with my mum how her ride went that day, and I am sure many horse riding husbands have learnt when to just keep quiet…

So if the major part of your day is spent thinking about horses, and training horses, and getting back in the saddle, then which type of addict are you?

You Might be Looking, but are you Seeing?…

I have now lived away from my home country for almost 7 years and I feel lucky to have embraced another country and allowed it to be my home…


Because that is actually the bottom line, you have to allow a new country to become your own, travelling is a choice and so is your decision to travel with an open mind, or a closed one.

I worked two summers at the top of Australia, on some of the most beautiful islands in the world, and what I witnessed from nature was breathtaking, and what I witness from tourists…equally astonishing in all the wrong ways.

People who had travelled 16,000kms or more to look at something, without ever really seeing it.

Some I still remember quite clearly. The French couple who would go for hours without eating until they found something “French” to eat. The American who threw a fit at the end of a diving excursion because I told him that “no he could not take some of the coral (protected natural habitat for thousands of amazingly rare and beautiful species) home with him.

“But I only want to take a little bit”…He said to me, as if in his own ignorance he couldn’t imagine the impact it would have if every single person who visited the reef took “just a little bit”.

The guy who told me the tourist walks were too clean and would dissapear off into the national rainforest and then tell me how “untouched” it all was when you went into the areas where humans were not allowed to go.

Sometimes I didn’t have words, and I am typically a person who knows what she wants to say.

But there were other people who kept to the rules, and were polite and felt grateful to witness such a beautiful part of the world, and yet I felt they took nothing away from it.

I can relate to this in some way. When I first arrived in Europe I travelled a lot. I looked at many different countries and cultures and things I had never seen before in Australia. But I am not sure I saw that much.

I think at that time in my life I was trying to get away from the old, rather than actually see something new.

We can look at something a thousand times without ever really seeing it.

By the time I got to Portugal, I was ready to see something, to embrace something, and to start again.

It was a decision to love this country, just as much as it was luck that it happened to be such a perfect fit for me.

At the moment I get slightly frustrated most days when I read the expatriate facebook pages. While often they can be quite helpful, they can be sometimes rather frustrating for someone who actually let another country in.

People message the page asking why they don’t fit in, and then go on to complain about just about everything. It’s like asking why your partner isn’t happy, while constantly telling them how awful they are.

Often I find people that move overseas and then compare everything to what they had a home. “The beaches aren’t the same, the food isn’t the same, the language is hard”, and they go on and on, and I wonder if they spent that time going out and seeing something new, whether that might be time better spent.

I understand that a part of us does it subconsciously, we compare what we know to what we are yet to experience. Imagine though if every person you met you compared them to another person that you already knew?  That every time you had a  beer you compared it to that one time that beer was so good and so you were forever disappointed… I am guessing you would end up in a loop of the same, and never really be open for something different, or maybe even something better?

I don’t have the answer, but one thing that travelling, and working with foreigners, has taught me, is that we do have a choice as to whether we just look at something or whether we actually see it… and to whether we allow ourselves to see something for what it is, rather than for what it is not.

I have started working on my book “North of Everything” which I hope to finish by the end of next year…Stay tuned 😉 

 

 

 

Give Yourself a Break…

Our mind can be our greatest weapon, or our biggest weakness, depending on how we control it.

And we do control it…

I have always been fascinated with the power of ones own mind. I have seen it destroy someone that I love, and I have also seen it keep someone going through impossible odds.

We witness it everyday. The person with depression who forgets why he loves his family, the grandfather who holds on just to see his grandson being born, the cancer patient who refuses to give up.

There is an aboriginal folk story that I read about when I was little, where the tribe leader would “point the bone” at a man who had deceived the tribe in some way, and that man would be dead within the week. It wasn’t a special bone of any kind, just the regular sort, but because the man accused believed in the ritual…he died.

I used to say that “If you strongly believe something, it’s already happened…because even if it hasn’t happened, it might as well have.”

Truth is you can convince yourself of pretty much anything if you set your mind on it. And once you convince yourself you unconsciously make it true. You can wake up and decide that you hate your life, and let that destroy every good thought you have.

My mum would always say to me “don’t let your mind go there”…and there is so much truth in that…Everyone has good and bad thoughts, it’s whether or not you choose to explore them that matters.

The second part about the mind is how it affects those around us…We project so much onto other people without even realising it…

In 1964 Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal, performed an experiment with students and teachers to prove that  “If teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ from certain students, then increasingly, those kids gained more IQ,”. This theory has now been proven many times over, that what we expect from people we often create for them.

I believe this…The less you think of someone, the more they prove you right to be suspicious.

But can you do this for yourself?

I am facing this at the moment. I can’t and most likely will never do the thing that I dedicated my life to. My writing, and teaching, and my dream…the reason why I moved across the other side of the world, was in a large part to start again, but in the most part it was to pursue my dream of international competition, specifically to continue my life with horses and make something from that.

It has not been easy for me to face up to that reality. I feel like I have failed in every possible way, but the reality is I have not. I believe that my physical inability to do the thing I love has actually just uncovered something that needs to be dealt with…I still have not forgiven myself for things that I did, or things that I had nothing to do with, from years ago. Sometimes I have to actively tell myself just to give myself a break, because not everything in the whole world is actually my fault.

It’s a freeing thought actually. The thought that regardless of what I do, and what I achieve, I will be ok, because I deserve no more or no less than anyone else. Learning to see myself with the same amount of care and affection that I give to everyone else.

It seems so simple..Just don’t be so hard on yourself. But the truth is I have spent a lifetime trying to make up for something that in reality I had nothing to do with.

You may think me weak for admitting it, and I don’t really care, over 100 people wrote to me last week to say that they admire me, or I inspire them, and a part of me is proud of that, and a part of me wonders…why? Why do I inspire them?

I think it’s because in my articles, both in life and in horse riding, I say the things that people think, and as one lady said, I “say it like it is” and not in a way that would make me sound better, or more knowledgeable.

In training I say how much trouble I had with an exercise and suggest a new approach, instead of saying how well I can do it and then explain why I can do it so well…

People also were writing to ask what happened? Basically I have an injury that has been getting slowly worse for 20 years, and a specialist had told me that surgery to lock the pubic bone together is the only solution.

I have since then seen other physicians who say that fusing the pubic bone of a 30 year old woman, cutting off her chances of ever..riding, or havinga family, or even running, is ridiculous.

I am trying again with the physio from my favorite football team (Benfica) and a pilates trainer who is just the the best, and who knows what the future holds…But one thing is certain, this experience has reminded me of the things I still need to work on, and I am finding that “giving myself a break” is not such a bad thing after all.

What’s Next….Becoming Portuguese? and Getting Back Riding…?

I have now received my last residency permit (I hope), because in 9 months time I can apply for Portuguese Nationality.

I have been asked why I want Nationality?

In truth I don’t actually need it, and it would probably be easier just to keep applying for residency because of the paperwork required to actually become Portuguese.

Someone told me recently that just because I am granted citizenship it doesn’t make me Portuguese. They were right of course, but for me it signifies more than a dual passport or the right to be here as long as I wish. To me it’s more than that.

An important thing which we all crave, even if we deny it, is a feeling of belonging. People find this sense of belonging in all sorts of ways. Some people belong to a church, or belong to a book club. Some are part of a sport or sports team, similar people who share a  similar drive or passion. I feel I belong when I am on the horse, like it’s normal, like it’s where I am meant to be. I feel I belong when I am next to someone who makes me laugh and with whom I love and admire.

And, I feel, and have felt for 6 years, that I belong in Portugal.

I do not know why. I love this country for many reasons. But more than that I love who it allowed me to be. People romanticise moving overseas and I am not going to do that. In the beginning it’s lonely. But then again I know people who are surrounded by the familiar and they are far more lonely than I have ever felt here in Portugal.

The weather here helped a lot in the beginning. It’s hard to be down when you are on a beautiful beach lying in the sun, even if you are there by yourself.

Portugal is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and I believe  it’s because of the feeling that you get when you are here. Aside from the food, which is delicious, and the landscape which is unique and diverse, Portugal has a relaxed and welcoming feeling that can’t really be described. It’s a feeling that I needed because my mind runs way too fast. The people that I admire the most are those that have mastered the ability to be in the present moment, a feeling that I have only in the last two years come to truly appreciate or understand.

I am trying to use this now, as I give horse riding another try…I have given up the thought of competing for now, for now I just want to ride, and to enjoy riding not just for being on the horse, but for being with the horse. Horses have been my best friends since before I knew what friendship was, since before I could actually walk or talk. They got me through the worst times in my life, when I wanted the world to dissapear, because when I was out on my horse, it felt like it had. It was just me, and my horse, and nothing else.

I think everyone needs their own thing. Their own escape. I was talking recently with someone about how often that escape is part of who we are, the lighter side of our character, the side that makes life fun…and when you stripaway all the ways we have to let that part of us come out, then often you are just left with someone who resents the person who took that away, and themselves for allowing that to happen.

Portugal gave me the freedom to understand that not everything that happens in life is your fault. Despite knowing this I am still hugely self critical, and often really harsh on myself.  I judge myself on a scale that I would never in a million years expect others to live up to, and for some reason riding is my escape from that also. It’s funny that in a place where you are judged, you feel free from judgement, but I guess that’s just how life is ;). I am sure I would find another way to escape, to feel like I have a thing thats just mine, that I enjoy, and I feel proud doing, but I feel that won’t be until I truly give up the idea of riding …

As for Portuguese nationality?…No I don’t need it… and no it won’t make me Portuguese. I am Australian. I will always be Australian, and I am lucky to come from a nation that allows me dual nationality. But I do have this feeling that I belong here, and that is a hard thing to describe sometimes to people, particularly my family who love Australia so much…I still love Australia, but gaining nationality is just something for myself, something to say… I came here, I stayed here, and this is where I belong.

 

 

 

CRC…Design Your Own Riding Holiday

I once heard a friend of my mother’s say that she wished there was somewhere she could go, near lisbon, near the beach, where she could have her own small apartment at the horses, do Piaffe and Passage on a Lusitano, see the

Australian Lauren Gretgrix on her Riding Holiday…Passaging on a GP Lusitano

Portuguese school of Equestrian art, and also be shown around Lisbon and it’s surrounding areas by someone who knew where to eat the best Portuguese tarts, and could explain a small piece of Portugals very vast and interesting history.

I set out last year with my mates at the Cascais Riding Club to make that happen, and having now had successful trips with riders from Ireland, Finland and Australia, we have worked out that riders want a flexible holiday, that they can design themselves, and they want everything to be accessible and simple, so they can just enjoy it.

The Cascais Riding Club now allows you to organise everything yourself before you come, and offers a range of different extras so riders can create their own riding holiday.

Once you book the flight, I organise transfers to and from the stables, and the apartments (via this link) are located at the horses. http://www.quintadabicuda.com/?page_id=128

The accomodation, with kitchenette, television, and ensuite bathroom

 

Mini Apartments at the horses with pool for the summer months 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

For a more luxurious stay there are many lovely hotels around the corner, and if your husband is more for golf than horses the golf courses in the area are quite famous.

The lovely groung at the CRC (Cascais Riding Club)
Cascais Riding Club

Non riding family members (sisters, kids, parents) can also head off to the beach that is 5 minutes away, and choose from surf, paddle and a range of other activities on offer.

Once the family is entertained, you can choose between one to two riding lessons a day, given by me and the team at Cascais Riding Club, and you can inform me beforehand what you wish to work on, and also send video of your riding so I better understand your horse, and your own journey.

To see the surrounding area we then offer day tours of lisbon and or Sintra with ‘Amazing Discovery Tours’ to see the old castles and the very unique lisbon centre on a private tour with a portuguese local guide who is also a very good friend of mine.

Castle in Sintra
My favorite city in the world

 

 

 

 

 

Tour guide Carlos From the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

We now also offer a morning trip to the Portuguese school of Equestrian art to watch either a training or a show depending on your preference, and you will be taken as a guest by one of the riders of the school itself.

 

For more information, write to me at warnes@live.com.au and start designing your own dream holiday today 🙂 🙂 .

Full list of prices for the CRC package, including lessons and accomodation, below…

Individual Pack

(Bungalow studio)

 

Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)

282€

355€

5 days (4 nights)

480€

588€

7 days (6 nights)

644€

805€

The Individual Pack includes the Bungalow Studio, with capacity for 2 people, and 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 1 person.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

Double Pack

(Bungalow with 2 rooms)

 

Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)

534€

672€

5 days (4 nights)

888€

1.104€

7 days (6 nights)

1.196€

1.518€

The Double Pack includes the Bungalow with 2 Rooms, with a total capacity for 4 people, and 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 2 people.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

Family Pack

(Bungalow duplex)

 

Normal Season

High Season*

3 days (2 nights)

541€

1 Half-day kids entertainment

672€

1 Half-day kids entertainment

5 days (4 nights)

950€

3 Half-days kids entertainment

1.104€

3 Half-days kids entertainment

7 days (6 nights)

1.286€

4 Half-days kids entertainment

1.495€

4 Half-days kids entertainment

The Family Pack includes the Bungalow Duplex, with total capacity for 4 people, 1 riding lesson per day, beginner to intermediate level, for 2 people and Kids entertainment as indicated in the table.
To the prices above it will be added VAT at the legal rate in force.

*High Season – June 15th to September 15th and Easter Holidays

Kids Entertainment can include the following games: traditional, water, science, football, treasure hunt, cooking, artistic expression and gymkhana.

Click here for the prices flyer….

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