I received a message yesterday asking if I was the Lusitano girl that lived in Portugal.
I often get asked if that’s who I am.
Often riders don’t want to be catagorised into a certain breed of horse, but I feel proud of the association.
I have ridden all types of horses since before I could walk, but the Lusitano is the one that “captured my heart” so to speak, and is the reason I flew 16,000km across the world, and stayed there.
Home is a concept that I have discussed a lot. People place too much importance on home as a destination. Home for me is a feeling…
I feel at home when I’m on my horse, when I’m in the arms of someone I love, or someone that loves me…When I call mum on Skype and argue about why Batialo won’t get off my left leg, even though she is on the other side of the world…I’m home.
Last week I admitted that I have been missing dad a lot lately, and it’s strange but I feel at home when I miss him. I have known that feeling for the greater part of my life, and it somehow keeps part of him with me. It’s not sad…People say “how sad”, and I feel lucky to still have “saudade” for someone who was so important to me, because the alternative is to feel nothing, and that would be like he never existed.
I wrote a post recently that said “it’s nice to look back now and realise that Portugal was the right place for me”, and someone asked if I ever doubted it.
Of course I did!! Moving overseas alone, without family or friends, is not like moving to a different suburb.
I still remember my first ever meeting with SEF (immigration) where I was sent to the line for South Africa, because the lady thought Australia was in South Africa, and I spent 20 minutes trying to convince her (in Portuguese and without saying “you are an idiot”) that Australia was in fact not part of South Africa at all.
Big day for her…tough day for me.
Then the finance notices would come, in Portuguese, and I would receive warnings for taxes I didn’t even know existed, or turn up to training an hour before I was suppose to because no-one mentioned the clocks had gone forward an hour.
Then the questions from strangers…”you are here alone? No family? No man?”…
Followed by the awkward moment where they would stare at me in pity, and I would stare back in pity at them!
The first time I asked for directions and they said “sempre em frente” and I replied “Always in front of what?”
I have done interviews with other riders who moved overseas and they say the food was the hardest. Well, have to say I found that pretty easy to adjust to. I would eat Portuguese Tarts for dinner if I could, and if you ever get invited into a Portuguese home for dinner, just say yes, don’t ask questions, you’ll thank me later!
I can understand the food troubles though, after being in Germany for a short while before landing in the land of the Lusitano. I honestly have not eaten a sausage since leaving there 5 years ago, and I don’t think I will anytime soon.
Aside from the tarts, ice-cream and the seafood, it was of course the horses that kept me in Portugal, plus the people made it easier.
People that help you even though you can’t possibly repay the favour. My Portuguese mum, and my Portuguese aunty, Maria Luisa, and Piedade, whom I have negleted lately, but to whom I am so very grateful.
I have talked to other Australians who have lived in both countries, and they agree that in terms of cultures that clash and those that don’t, the Tuga/Aussie mix is quite a good one…After all they most likely founded Australia right? 😉
So why the Lusitano? Well, Batialo is the reason why I write articles. He is the smartest horse I have ever known, and teaches me more than any trainer ever will.
He taught me that if you are mentally strong, you can overcome anything physical. He taught me that if I don’t listen to him, he will not try to understand me later. He showed me that unless I fix my weaknesses as a person, I will never be a good rider.
Ask me if it’s easy? Well two months ago I had actually told people I may sell him. I was at the end of what I thought I could handle. Then mum asked me if I sell him what I want to do with the money. I said buy a horse like Batialo…
But you can’t!!
I have people writing to me sometimes saying they want one like him, for a small amount of money, and I feel like responding “and what colour would you like that unicorn to come in?”
So I couldn’t give up on him, because the truth was I didn’t want another Batialo, I just wanted the one I had.
The smartest people I know are never easy, but you don’t give up on them.
I’ve always been told that while it’s difficult to win an argument with a smart person, it’s impossible to win one with someone who is stupid!
So I stuck with my smart horse…
I could sell him and go home, but if I was going to do that I would have done it years ago. Truth is I am the Lusitano girl. If I went home now I would take Lusitanos with me, and while I’m often told I don’t really fit in in Portugal, Portugal certainly fits in with me 🙂