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Ali Baba - it was meant to be

Ali Baba - it was meant to be

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I still remember the first time I set eyes on Ali Baba - it was October 2011 and I had spent many months looking in Spain and Portugal for me dream horse. In fact this was my second trip over - I'd been at the Global Dressage Forum and had been once again looking in Spain, Portugal and indeed France to find him.

Sarah Warne had sent me some video footage of a young (six year old) stallion with a talent for piaffe and passage. She simply insisted I go see him and she wouldn't stop talking about him. He was younger than I wanted, but he had some good points for sure. So off we went to a fabulous stable just outside of Lisbon where Ali Baba was being kept. I liked the look of him straight away. Although he was not grey (as I THOUGHT I was looking for) he was a stunning bay - and something about him resonated within me - perhaps it was his face - the forelock and eyes reminded me of Landioso somewhat. He was very expressive and cheeky - full of the joys of life and happy to be a young stallion.

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A Lusitano for me? Could it be?!

A Lusitano for me? Could it be?!

Monday, October 29, 2012

People are, I am sure, asking why Jody Hartstone has strayed away from warmblood horses and has travelled to far off Portugal to bring back a Lusitano stallion to New Zealand. Well it all started about two years ago with a chat to my good friend Reisa Bonetti from www.DressageTraiingOnLine.com I was telling her that I wanted to invest in a new competition and breeding stallion but I was dismayed that the New Zealand warmblood stallion market is flooded with non-performance tested, non-european approved stallions who undercut those who are the "real-deal". Stallions such as Landioso, Whisper, Ramazotti and Donnerwind cost an absolute fortune and have proven their worth as both competition and breeding stallions around the globe. But when New Zealand breeders are happy to use non-approved stallions at reduced stud fees it makes the breeding industry in New Zealand somewhat of a joke compared to the high standards set in Europe.

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Farewell Wunders Tag - Why both HORSES and MEN sometimes don't work out as hoped...

Farewell Wunders Tag - Why both HORSES and MEN sometimes don't work out as hoped...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Wunder's Tag has a new home - he's leaving in a jet plane today, bound for New York instead of New Zealand. I know this will disappoint a few people back home who really wanted to get to meet him, so I thought a blog was in order!

Erin Mortimer and I decided to purchase "Wookie" at Christmas time 2011. New Zealand had just qualified a team for London Olympics but was short of qualified horses to make the team. It seemed an opportunity to good to turn down, but looking around internationally there were no horses that may have been capable that were within our budget - till Carl Hester told me of Wookie. He was "cheap" by international standards and had some talent for sure but lacked training and had no international experience. I flew to the UK, tried him a few days and got him vetted, it was a very long shot but we thought we would give it a go.

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Seville - Southern Spain's Great City

Seville - Southern Spain's Great City

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I thought I would tell you about another great city in Spain. Over the past year my travels in search of a horse have taken me to many great places in Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Caceres, Salamanca, Segovia and Valencia to name a few. However it is only recently I ventured further south to Andalusia to the city of Seville.

My first thoughts on Seville as I caught a taxi from the train station to my hotel was just how much like Los Angeles it was on the main roads thru the city - huge palm trees were everywhere and big mansions just like in the Beverly Hills. Soon however I was seeing the most incredible Muslim / Arabic influences in the buildings and I had to remember that Spain isn't just olive trees and Sangria, it has a rich history that has been shaped by the Romans, Moors, Iberians, Arabs, Jews and Christians alike.

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Scotland - ISES Conference Number 5

Scotland - ISES Conference Number 5

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Well in the end I was home for only about two weeks of the New Zealand winter before hitting the road again. I had a few more loose ends to sort in Europe, but I was so glad I got a couple of weeks at home with my folks and my wonderful young horses. I also needed to chop a bit of dead wood when home so I could move on with some new plans in life! So after putting away my axe I boarded yet another jet and heading back "Up Over" from "Down Under".

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Furthering my education - the Associate Diploma in Equitation Science

Furthering my education - the Associate Diploma in Equitation Science

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
"We can never really know what it is to be a horse. Our best hope is to be as objective as possible and to balance our emotional attachment to the horse with our tradition of rational enquiry. To do this, we need to redefine the way that we think about the horse using sciences of behaviour"

Dr Andrew McLean

Those who have followed my career over the last ten years or so will have seen a dramatic improvement in my riding, training and coaching abilities - due almost entirely to the skills I have learnt from Dr Andrew McLean of the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre in Clonbinane, Victoria. I met Andrew about 6 years ago when faced with the talented but often opinionated stallion Landioso. I had asked for help from many people, all to no avail, but it was Andrew who single handedly helped me understand how horses learn and how deficiencies in the negatively reinforced signals of rein and leg pressure can cause conflict behaviours. My introduction to the science behind how horses learn - termed "Learning Theory" had begun. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Drummeen Lodge - Tragedy, Love and Laughter in Northern Ireland

Drummeen Lodge - Tragedy, Love and Laughter in Northern Ireland

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My travels have taken me many times around the globe with horses, but Drummeen Lodge near Londonderry in Northern Ireland is a stable I have returned to many times in the last 15 years since my first unforgettable visit there....

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Barcelona - It was the first time that we met...

Barcelona - It was the first time that we met...

Monday, June 18, 2012
Barcelona! It was the first time that we met
Barcelona! How can I forget
The moment that you stepped into the room

You took my breath away

One of the highlights of living in Spain for a few months was to get to do some sightseeing in the wonderful city of Barcelona - of all the cities in the world I have been to, "Barce" has to be right up at the top as a firm favourite. The words above are from the Freddie Mercury song produced for the Olympic Games in Barcelona - and they pretty much sum it up!

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