I focus on positive riding using the strengths of each individual horse to their advantage. I believe in mindful and aware riding so that it’s done more with feeling than thinking. As a mindful rider, one is much more receptive to the signals from your horse which facilitates the two way dialogue you are continuously in.
When training my horses, I like to do it harmoniously asking them to respond to my aids as lightly as possible. This itself requires training in itself but in my eyes if a horse isn’t responding in the desired way it is more often than not a miscommunication fault where he/she actually does not understand what you want. I like to ride with a firm but soft approach, often adapting the exercises and how I ask for things depending on how the individual horse is feeling on that particular day. This is particularly important at competitions where as a rider I’ll often need to work twice as hard to overshadow the actual environment and get the horse focused on me.
Just like humans, horses are individual beings with personalities, strong sides and stiff sides so I try to keep this in my mind during my training sessions. Little by little, I believe any realistic goal can be met providing consistent and clear training.
With a background in show jumping, I’m not scared to put a few simple gymnastics and pole work to improve their agility and body movements. And as many other riders say, downtime such as hacking out in the woods or just giving them a good groom is just as important in getting their minds relaxed and building the relationship and bond between the horse and the rider. Last but not least, I also like to let the horses be horses – let them play in the fields and have their freedom – this will only do them good.
Though originally Finnish, I gained my first insights in riding in Brazil where I lived for some of my youth. A bit experimentative back then, I tried everything from dressage to jumping to vaulting. Even though it was jumping that was the real “fun stuff” when I was younger, dressage was always there alongside it. It was in Brazil that I had my first victory at the Sao Paulo dressage championships in the children’s amateur category.
It was in Sweden in 2001 that dressage started to take the front seat and it was also here that I truly fine-tuned my understanding of it. I developed further in Portugal where I trained for a year with the essence of classical dressage in mind. One of the highlights there was training some of the gorgeous bullfighting horses with their great temperament, powerful back ends and ease of advanced movements.
Now I’m based in the UK (in Essex) with international Grand Prix dressage riders and trainers Mette and Michel Assouline. Previously I have also been trained by Melissa Beer and Sarah Millis. My 22 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 semi-retirement with lots of field time, hacking and some showing in his loan home. Now my focus is on young horse 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. In 2016 we’ll be advancing into Elementary and Medium level tests – and we’re both very excited!