About My Philosophy
Be mindful. Be aware. Be positive.
Mindfulness breeds presence which breeds focus which breeds success. You are at your best when you are fully present – and the same applies to your horse. Whenever you ride, try to clear your mind of anything else but the moment you are in. It’s this presence that will help you to be more receptive to the signals from your horse. This will facilitate the two-way dialogue you are continuously in.
Feel more than you think. Listen more than you talk. Ask more than you tell.
This is what creates a harmonious partnership between you and your horse. Using light aids, asking clear questions, and being soft yet firm. Pay attention to how your horse responds to what you ask of him/her. Usually, if your horse isn’t responding in the desired way, it is a fault of miscommunication. They might not actually understand what you’re asking of them. Adapt the exercise if you’re not getting the preferred response after a few tries. Listen to how your horse is feeling and what you think he/she needs more of that day.
Focus on the horse’s strengths. Focus on what is going right. Focus on the little wins.
Just like humans, horses are individual beings with personalities. They all have their strong sides and stiff sides. They have some movements they find easy and others that they find difficult. Bear this in mind whenever you are training them. Focus on their strengths and be patient with their weaknesses. Be persistent but kind. Take one step at a time. Little by little, any realistic goal can be met with consistent and clear training.
Finally, let your horse be a horse. Give them some field time if you can as it’s incredibly good for their bodies, minds, and souls. Try to vary their training if it’s safe. Hack them out into the woods, take them on the gallop tracks, or do some gymnastic pole work. Keep their bodies agile by asking different things of them. Spend as much time with them as you do on them (if not more!). Groom them, cuddle them, and give them your undivided attention. That is how you keep them relaxed and build a lasting, strong bond. After all, that is one of the most precious things in the sport.
Though originally Finnish, I gained my first riding insights when living in Brazil. I started riding at the age of 9 and experimented with all the equestrian disciplines. Show jumping dominated a lot of my youth, satisfying my cravings for the adrenaline rush. I even tested out vaulting, though flexibility wasn’t (and still isn’t) my strong suit and hence I didn’t do it for long. Dressage was always alongside all the other horsey things I did as I understood its importance in building a strong, trusting bond with your horse.
In 1999, I had my first big dressage victory at the age of 12, as I won the São Paulo dressage championships in the children’s amateur category. I had a lovely little Anglo-Arab who wowed all the judges (and me!) with his sweet demeanour. This must have wet my appetite as when I moved from Brazil to Sweden in 2001, dressage started to slowly take a front seat.
I started to fine-tune my understanding of it and compete in it more. I still competed in show jumping but now I started to compete in dressage equally as much. I quickly realised the more dressage I did, the more responsive my horse was also in the jumping ring. This made me even more eager to learn more.
One of my highlights was training for a year in Portugal with Bento Castelhano. His classical dressage background gave me yet another perspective to include in my journey. I even got to train some of the gorgeous bullfighting horses in the country – and their temperaments, powerful backends, and ease of advanced movements totally vowed me! However, just because I love the horses they use doesn’t mean I support the bullfighting sport. I most certainly don’t.
About My Horses
My 23-year-old Ollie (also known as Orlando Metodo) did a career shift from a bouncy Foxhunter level show jumper to quite the dressage star competing in advanced medium until the age of 19. He is now enjoying retirement with lots of field time, carrots, and fun with his friends.
My focus right now is on bringing up young Mickey (Eurythmic – b.2009) who I’ve had since 2012. We tested the waters in 4- and 5-year old young horse classes at the start and moved on to normal British Dressage tests as a 6-year old. We are currently competing in at medium level and working towards advanced medium.