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Holy Toledo!

Holy Toledo!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ever wondered where that saying comes from? It comes from the Holy ancient city of Toledo - just out from Madrid. It's a city that is a World Heritage site and was once the capital of the Spanish Empire. Toledo has been populated since the Bronze Age and its a place where the religious cultures of the Moors, Jews, Arabs and Catholics are entwined throughout history. It's a very popular spot with the tourists in Spain and it was also the city that hosted my next show - the Toledo CDI 3*.

Before I set off from Barcelona I was very excited by the arrival from England of my new Horse Van - I am extremely lucky to have the support of my owners Erin and Warwick Mortimer and their daughter-in-law Larissa's company Horsevans.co.nz - we call this one the "Wookiemobile". See the photo below - it is a slick silver two horse model - on a brand new chassis - it's not often I get to drive something new! My very first journey was straight to Madrid from Barcelona - taking the coastal road thru Valencia. The van is a right hand drive model as it will eventually be making its way back to New Zealand. I'm not that experienced driving on the "wrong" side of the road, but I'm happy to report I made the 1500km round trip unscathed! Wookie travels really well in the van - he's a huge horse, but fits in easily and there was a ton on room between his butt and the wall so no rubbing at all (the horses face backwards and seem to travel very well that way).

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Barcelona Horses - The Place To Be

Barcelona Horses - The Place To Be

Friday, March 23, 2012

What is it that they say about the best made plans? I'm not actually that sure to tell you the truth which is why I tend to not make too many plans! If you had said to me two months ago when I was leaving New Zealand that I would end up with Wookie in Barcelona I would have laughed at the idea - but now it is a reality...

In my previous blog in France I knew I needed to go somewhere to work on Wookie's piaffe / passage. And many people recommended I needed to go to "the expert" Agusti Elias, who travels globally teaching some of the world's best riders and horses for the piaffe and passage. When I met the flamboyant Spaniard at the show in France his answer to everything was "No Problem!" ie can My horse come to your barn? Can I come too? Is there somewhere for me to stay? Can the horse go on your lorry tomorrow? Can I travel with him too? To each question I got the "No Problem!" answer. I got the feeling I was going to like it in Spain!

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How does one get to France?

How does one get to France?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Ever wondered about the logistics of entering an FEI show in France? I feel I'm almost an expert now as Wookie and I have successfully completed our first show "abroad" as they say in England.

When entering an FEI show the first thing you need to do is to be from a country invited to attend. New Zealand tends not to be on the invite list so you need to apply to Dressage New Zealand who then applies to the show to ask if we can join. In the case of this show at Vidauban they accepted two entries from New Zealand. I planned to go with ex-pat Kiwi Lisa White, and thought it would all be plain sailing as Lisa has done quite a few competitions in France before. However Lisa pulled out a few weeks before we were due to leave so I was left without a ride to the show! Stress! Luckily I found Patricia Williams, who had worked in Australia as a pro-groom in the past, and had even groomed for Brett Parbury when he owned Whisper. I did a deal with Trish that I would pay for her horse to come and train her on him each day at the show in exchange for the use of her lorry, driving skills and grooming skills whilst at the show. A fair swap - there was no way I wanted to hire a lorry and do the drive on my own...

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A new chapter begins...

A new chapter begins...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

in late January I said goodbye to family and friends and embarked on what will hopefully be a most exciting and fulfilling adventure to England to train my new horse Wunders-Tag with Carl Hester in Gloucestershire. It's always hard saying goodbye to those you love and care a lot for, but at least these days with modern technology like facebook and skype your mates are never far away.

I had a lovely send off at Auckland airport with Erin Mortimer (half owner of Wookie), Julie Malcolm and Judith Cowie all there to share a bottle of champagne and wish me well. I flew again on Emirates - my frequent miles allowing my some business class privileges these days but rest assured I'm still stuck in Economy on the flights! When I reached the UK I waited a few hours at Heathrow before meeting up with Clarke Johnson and Vanessa Way who had flown horses in the same day. Vanessa is basing at Carl Hester's yard, so I hitched a ride down with her.

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Introducing Wunders-Tag WONDERFUL DAY!

Introducing Wunders-Tag WONDERFUL DAY!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Im uber-excited to announce that almost a year after loosing our wonderful Weltmeyer stallion Whisper, Erin Mortimer and I have found a lovely horse to follow on from where Whisper left off. And best of all the new boy is a grandson of Weltmeyer himself.

New Zealand, meet Wunders-Tag - a 16.3hh Hanoverian gelding by Wolkendanz out of an Andiamo mare. "Wookie" is a 12 year old who has competed just one Grand Prix test in his careeer thus far.

Less than three weeks ago a friend of mine Jan Milne (a kiwi equine photographer based in the UK) came on board to help in my quest to find a new equine partner. She went straight to the top and phoned no other than Carl Hester to ask if he knew of anything horses available in Britain. He mentioned a horse he rated as quite a talent, Wonders-Tag, who was owned by a pupil of his.

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Equidays - Fantastic Debut for a Great Event!

Equidays - Fantastic Debut for a Great Event!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I was home from France for only a few days before Equidays was held at Mystery Creek in Hamilton. WOW, what a spectacular that proved to be! I had a great time there presenting clinics and catching up with sponsors, clients and long lost friends. Andrew and Manu McLean flew in along with their daughter Sophie, and the Equitation Science message was spread far and wide. My first lecture Demo was out in the Natural Horsemanship Arena, it was a trailer loading demo that I entitled "It's not about Leadership - its about Leading" - a bit of a dig at my Natural Horsemanship counterparts who talk about being the "Alpha Mare" and making the horse trust and respect you. Those of you who understand Equine Learning Theory will know that its simply about training the horse to respond correctly to the leading pressures. I was a bit nervous at the start - I love performing to an audience, but this audience included two very special guests - my parents John and Christine... I don't think they have ever seen me at work as a trainer / coach so I was thrilled they could make it along.

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Viva la France!

Viva la France!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Straight after the Global forum I had a day to kill, so I went to Olympic Medallist Coby van Baalen's barn to help a young rider with a horse displaying problem behaviours. For years I have watched a video of Coby riding Donnerwind in her exquisite arena. Now I was drinking tea and watching some of the world's to young rider's in training - the Van Baalen's train many of the best pony, junior and young rider's in Europe - it really is the "place to go" for young aspiring talents.

I also was invited to Belgium for an overnight stay to show breeder and rider An D'hondt more of the scientific training principles she had learnt from Andrew McLean and myself at the GDF. I delighted in An's company and she marvelled at the new methods of riding and handling she was learning - including working with a beautiful 3 year old colt and a difficult loader. An's friend is Dirk Caremans - one of the world's leading equestrian photographers. I got to enjoy a lovely dinner with the both of them, and friendships have been fostered for the future.

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The Global Dressage Forum - and another arrival point!

The Global Dressage Forum - and another arrival point!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Straight after the ISES conference, the Bartels Academy played host to the Global Dressage Forum. For me it was a once in a life time opportunity to attend the forum - and imagine my intrepidation when Dr Andrew McLean asked if I would help him present his sessions on over-shadowing techniques to overcome fearful stimuli for dressage horses.

What?! Me out in front of the likes of Jennie Loriston-Clarke; Matthias Rath (the new rider of Totilas) and Hayley Beresford?! Are you kidding?! I could hardly say "No" to that opportunity now could I?!

The Global Forum is held every year in Holland and its where top riders, judges and officals come to meet and greet, share ideas, hear about the latest developments of the sport and to debate hotly contested topics. I have always read about the goings on of the Forum on the Eurodressage website, and now I was finally amongst it!

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