Friday, December 12, 2014


This has been a week of too’s, not two’s but too’s! Too cold, too tried, too sore! Too much inside my head. Most of you know from reading my blog or from just being in close range of me that I spend so much time rattling around my brain determined to find some cause or reason for the state of being. Too much brain traveling leaves a young man tired and saturated. By good fortune my ponies and pupils are always there to wake me from my melancholy and put me back on my path.

Being too exhausted for concentrated work at first light and without my usual sustenance of Java ( you won’t be surprised I’ve giving it up again) I tacked my treasured boy with a certain slowness of mind. Still paying attention to detail but not with any fire in my belly. We wallowed through the wintery mud and set forth for work in the outdoor. Brisk doesn’t cover how bloody cold it’s been but a sure steady sun meant the illusion of warmth at least. Without an absolute plan in mind we took to playing, breaking the usual rules of warming up and working in. As his body loosened out and limbered up so in turn did my mind. With Rex growing more powerful underneath we bypassed all those grown up thoughts and went right to the little boy and his horse. Moving across the arena for fun and just for the sake of movement brought a whole new feeling to the quality of the training. I couldn’t tell you what exercises we did and in what order but I allowed myself to let the exhaustion temper my instinct for correctness and formality. By the time we’d finished we’d had one of the most successful training sessions to date.

Give in to the small child in you, the one who loves horses for just being horses. Play, ride and have fun for once, schooling will be still there tomorrow.
Routinely my students remind me of this journey to believe in the dream, in the joy of just riding. Letting confidence and a standard blossom from giving in and forgetting all the musts and shoulds, suddenly nothing seems too much anymore. I thank my students for giving me the pleasure of teaching and allowing me to be part of their dream, their joy and fun.

Tomorrow I’m sure to be still too tired but for once I now know it doesn’t matter. Fun or formality, whatever happens I’m still living my dream.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Courses for Horses

There’s a Charles come in to my life. Not royalty but someone just as regal!
On one of my horse shopping trips across the pond to the U.k. I was introduced to a beautiful hunting cob called Charles, who’s found a home here on the Isle of Man with a dear friend of mine and is becoming an integral part of my own string of competition horses.

I put aside my dressage duds for a moment and donned my showing gear. It’s been so long since I wore tweed and a bowler I’ve had to scrub them off and make sure they still fit.
Apart from the cruddy clothing, Charles couldn’t have been more of a gentleman at his first show, with placings and wins in the cob class and the coloured class in tremendously good company. I was immensely pleased for him and his owner.

Our plan was to give him a sedate outing and just let him have a look about but he was having none of it. He showed like an old hand catching the judges eye often enough for him to have a chinwag about how much potential he has.

Now the evenings have drawn dark and early tweeds are hung up again and it's time to see how he turns his hand to some dressage.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It’s late light, sun dipping down and I’m finally sat, still for the first time in what seems like an eternity. My body is tired, no more than usual, my muscles ache, no more than usual but my brain feels unusual. Unusually clear and free. Anyone who knows me knows my tendency to over-think, to fill my mind with useless clutter and noise. Today there's no noise but the ocean outside my kitchen window and the birds twittering softly in the evening luminosity. 

 (Excuse the graininess but I was determined to capture the view from my little cottage window)

As much as I try resist change like any good patriotic Irish male, my mothers voice rings true, a change is as good as a holiday. Now I wouldn’t call it three weeks away in the sun but it has been such an immense shift to move back to the Northern tip of this little green glossy isle and find what I love most. Hands on with horses, riding and teaching, taking a passion and a love and transferring that over to them and to their riders.
New clients, both horses and riders, has opened up new challenges and caused the most unexpected lift in my enthusiasm. Moving out of a bubble of comfort and exploring all those little thoughts and ideas on training and teaching has allowed me to concentrate the thought in my little brain, to focus it onto the things that really matter. Mornings filled with quiet contemplation on my own horses and sliding into the afternoon of new exciting horses of every make shape and temperament. Before I’ve even had time to think I’m home in my house by the seas edge allowing my body to sink into the comfort of an old well worn armchair, listening to the birds and feeling, with content, my aches and pains sure in the knowledge they got there from doing something I love ever so much.
I’m out in the grey Irish sea again, not sunning my body on a holiday but on a work trip seeking out horses. Ensconced on the Isle of Man ferry after a day driving and peering over stable doors and throwing tack on bright shiny animals. This isn’t my first jaunt across to the UK and each trip is actually a little like a mini break, what could be better than sitting on other peoples nicely schooled horses and wondering if I’d like to bring them home with me. 

I’ve been recently involved in searches of all kinds, dressage horses, showing horses and ponies. On the previous trip I was testing show cobs and found the most mannerly gent of an Irish horse that I’m hoping to get out on later this month, it’s been such a long time since I’ve dusted off my show tweed and there’s several people only too happy to see me wearing my bowler hat as I look like some sort of vaudeville comedy act in it.

With more clients and horses coming in, I’m getting the chance to ride more horses some of which are show horses and even I can’t believe I managed to work up to a proper gallop here and there and I’ve even begun jumping again.

This current trip has me looking at ponies again, a true all rounder and again I’m not surprised this time by how many are Irish bred like the show horses I’ve viewed. My last trip home to Ireland was looking at broodmares and young-stock at Goresbridge horse sales and I think it’s about time I got back there again to see what kind of horses we can rustle up. I’m still pony hunting and also looking for a nice ladies riding horse, of course I’ll do my upmost to persuade them all they should be dressage riders, even if they only dip their toes in the dressage arena for now. I’m sure it must be part of my lifes mission to convert everyone to the virtues of dressage.