New Bairn / Nytt Barn & New Barn

Once again there are only a few weeks to Christmas and there are so many things to fit in between now and then. The last few months have been very busy too, what with my growing family and horses to train and clinics to teach.  I feel very lucky though, that I have been able to combine all of these these things. To everyone who has attended a clinic or lesson since our daughter was born, I want to express heartfelt thanks for being so welcoming and patient with us and all of the paraphernalia and distractions that come with a new baby!

There has been plenty of exciting work in the making since my last post. I had a very interesting seminar in Sweden as part of the project I am collaborating on with two  very experienced Swedish colleagues – a project called Ridanalys. We are three instructors working in different fields: Toini Pettersson is a teacher in Centered Riding and Ewa Åsberg is a Personal Coach.  I then focus on the training of the horse. Together we have developed a Swedish-language programme of online training and support which can be accessed via http://www.ridanalys.se. The project is still in development so please be patient for more information to come.

My recent demonstration at New Barn in Cheshire was a very exciting and enjoyable experience for me. I hope that everyone who came to watch could take something useful away with them. I demonstrated ‘work in hand’, showing some of the steps from the basic foundations toward more collected work. My horse Cartuxo was helping me and behaved very well – especially considering he’s newly gelded.

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Following the demo we had a one day clinic, which – being just down the road from our house in Cheshire – meant that I didn’t have to pack up the suitcases and catch a plane this time! A new experience and a very enjoyable one for me.

I’m pleased to say that two further dates have been added – the 14th and 15th of December – for  one day clinics at New Barn. There will be one work in hand lesson in the morning and one riding lesson in the afternoon, with your choice of 30 minute or hour long lessons. Lessons are on a one-to-one basis. The work in hand will be very suppling and is worked in walk so it will not be too tiring for your horse.

Cost: EITHER 2 x 30 minutes sessions = £65 in total (inclusive of arena hire), OR 2 x 1 hour sessions = £130 total (inclusive of arena hire). Boxes are available for daytime stabling if required, for an additional charge. Please email info@charlottewittbom.com for further information.

Sessions can be tailored to the requirements of horse and rider so please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. The places have already started to fill so please let us know as soon as possible as the numbers are limited.

Demonstration and a clinic, New Barn, Cheshire

There’s a lot for me to look forward to this autumn – three trips to Sweden for clinics; clients horses coming to stay with us for training, and some students coming for short courses here on our farm in Cheshire.

I’ll also be giving a demonstration just down the road at New Barn, Ollerton, Cheshire on Friday the 17th of October.  The focus will be on the ‘work in hand’ exercises that I use to supple my horses and that I believe are very worthwhile for everyone to learn and use in their daily work. 7pm start; £10 admission on the night. Further details in the flyer below.

Classical demo New Barn

 

Following on from the demonstration, I will be teaching a one day clinic on Monday, 3rd November – again at New Barn, Cheshire. There will be one work in hand lesson in the morning and one riding lesson in the afternoon, with your choice of 30 minute or hour long lessons.  Lessons are on a one-to-one basis. The work in hand will be very suppling and is worked in walk so it will not be tiring for your horse.

Cost: EITHER 2 x 30 minutes sessions = £65 in total (inclusive of arena hire), OR 2 x 1 hour sessions = £130 total (inclusive of arena hire). Boxes are available for daytime stabling if required, for an additional charge. Please email info@charlottewittbom.com for further information.

Sessions can be tailored to the requirements of horse and rider so  and your horse so please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. The places have already started to fill so please let us know as soon as possible as the numbers are limited.

 

 

It’s the little things that matter

The summer is soon changing to autumn and I am aware that it has been another long absense in my writing. The family is now one person larger and our daughter Sigrid has already been introduced into the horse world. I am very grateful for our ‘Baby Björn’ that allows me to combine my work with motherhood. 

It is wonderful to be back in the saddle again. But a lot of things change after giving birth. Our bodies change physically and it’s taking some time to get the same feeling back that I had before my pregnancy. Also, in my mind I am more aware of the things that are not allowed to happen, since I now have another little person who needs me. So the need to do things safely is at the forefront of my thoughts once again. I suppose that being near to such a life changing event makes us aware of our vulnerability, as it does when we suffer an injury or a frightening experience with our horses.  But, these feelings, I think are by no means a bad thing. My own response has been to reflect on the detail and the method of my work – slowing everything down so that I clearly see the progress in the small steps.  I make sure that I first lunge the horse, even though it might seem not to be always absolutely necessary. This helps me to read my horse – his mood, his fitness and energy, as well as the context we’re working in – the weather and any distractions around us. I can assess how he can use himself in the three gates without the rider.  I also then work a little from the ground, making sure that the horse is supple and relaxed before I start to ride. If I come across a problem that we can work on from the ground – we’ll address it there and then.  It helps to concentrate on the small details in these situations because our work then becomes more considered and methodical, which in turn builds confidence and a sense of ease and control. Look after the detail and the bigger picture will look after itself.  

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Clinic in Stockholm.

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Clinic in Stockholm.

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Clinic in Stockholm.

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Clinic in Stockholm. Amendoim and his rider.

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Teaching work in hand with the Lusitano Amendoim.

Equador da Encosta

Equador da Encosta

The summer has been full of meeting up with people and horses who I haven’t seen for a while, because I’ve not been able to ride or travel. Very happily for me, we welcomed Equador back for a short stay while his new owner was on holiday. It was wonderful to sit on his back again. I also returned to Sweden to teach several clinics and enjoy seeing the advances my clients continue to make with their horses. Now, we’ll enjoy the last days of summer back in Cheshire. Until the next time…

When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

We’ve had some beautiful early Spring weather here in Cheshire and the land is shaking off its winter coat.  It’s been a fitting backdrop to my first visitor from Sweden – my friend Ulrika Malm.  For reasons I’m sure you’ll be able to see, I’m having to take a short break from riding my horses at the moment. Ulrika has been helping me with the work here and has taken some lovely photographs that I want to share with you.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photo by Ulrika Malm.

Since moving to the UK there have been big changes for me and of course for my two horses. But they have adapted very well. And since I took the decision not to mount my horses for a while, I’ve still been able to continue their developmental programmes from the ground and with the help of others, such as Nathalie Mitchell – a young rider who has been working with me on my horses’ jumping skills.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm

Photo by Ulrika Malm

It is sometimes difficult to keep up the training of our horses while our life takes its various twists and turns. But we can often use these challenges to our advantage, by stepping outside of our familiar patterns and introducing variety into the programme. And it’s not only our horses who can benefit from an introduction to new ideas and techniques – when we’re forced to consider novel ways of achieving our goals, it can often serve to break down some self-imposed or unconscious restrictions. In my case, not being able to spend hours on the backs of my horses has meant blending a lot of work from the ground with some jumping training and some mounted work on the lunge rope (thanks to help from some friends able to get up on the horses for me). And Equador continues to flourish with this varied programme – it’s physically beneficial and mentally stimulating.  So even when I’m back in the saddle, I’ll keep looking for these ways to extend the possibilities for our training sessions.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm

Photo by Ulrika Malm

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm

Photo by Ulrika Malm

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photo by Ulrika Malm.

Equador da Encosta is 5 years old and has a lovely character. He has done a lot of jumping recently and I think you can see that he loves it.  In fact I think he shows some talent with jumping – Lusitanos really have a lot to offer in that field of horsemanship, I think.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photo by Ulrika Malm.

In other news I’m really enjoying building new working relationships here in Cheshire. Much of my teaching recently has been with Eventers, Showjumpers and in fields I’m not usually involved with, which is really interesting for me. Slowly but surely existing clients are making plans to come and visit me here and new clients are seeking me out.  We’re able to accommodate clients’ horses for short courses of training (clients can stay very close by in one of the many hotels and guest houses), so I look forward to welcoming clients new and old.

Back in the Saddle

Long time no see! This time there really has been a loooong wait between posts, for which I must apologise.  But, these last few months have been a big adventure. More of that later.

First, to more familiar matters. There have been some wonderful courses held at Quinta do Brejo in Portugal – not least during the week of the Golegã festival. My guests – now also dear friends – shared many emotions under the tutelage of our Lusitano horses. Of course, we ate wonderful traditional meals cooked by our host Donna Antonia. It was a real joy to go back to work in surroundings that I love, and I hope and think that our Swedish guests felt the same. It was then very rewarding to see their progress again on a later clinic back in Sweden – to see the changes in their riding and the developments they had been able to achieve with their own horses at home.

I have been continuing with my programme of clinics in Sweden and the UK, with many long-time students and some very welcome new faces.  I look forward to sharing their progress in 2014 and beyond.

group at Quinta do Brejo www.charlottewittbom.com

And so to the big news. In September last year, we packed up the car and moved lock, stock, dog, little one and us to our new home in Cheshire, England. Two of my Lusitano horses have joined me here at the farm – Equador from Portugal and Cartuxo who had been with me in Sweden.

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My life and work will now be based here, even though I will of course keep up my regular clinics in Sweden and my work in Portugal.

So, that’s all for now – a little update after the long silence.  Normal service will resume shortly!

Saudade

Saudade is a Portuguese word without direct translation in English, but which characterises so much of the Portuguese national character. It is a kind of deep, melancholic longing for something cherished but absent. The traditional Portuguese folk music, Fado, expresses this notion through beautiful, lyrical stories, usually sung with guitar accompaniment.  A group of my Swedish clients at Quinta do Brejo were recently treated to a Fado performance by Manuel da Câmara – a dear friend of our hosts, Antonia and Tomaz Alercão.

Fado at Quinta do Brejo. www.charlottewittbom.com - Photo by Sören Belin.

Like all great art forms, Fado music resonates across cultures. Even to foreign ears these songs about love, loss, displacement and homeland speak of universal human emotions. It was a wonderful evening where friendships and memories were made.

It struck me during that evening how the concept of saudade describes well the feelings many of us will experience in our journey with horses.  Often the guests I have welcomed at Quinta do Brejo, and to my clinics around the world, have expressed a powerful longing for a kind of connection with their horses that has been elusive, yet present for them. We surely can all recognise the feeling of catching glimpses of how our horsemanship could be without ever seeming to obtain it. It’s almost to have loved and lost simultaneously – to know we have had something heavenly in our grasp that we may never fully recapture.

Fado at Quinta do Brejo - www.charlottewittbom.com

But in the concept of saudade and in Fado music we also see the importance of communal human experience, of telling stories and of learning to see the beauty and power in our feelings of longing. I suppose this is why there is so much benefit in a riding holiday or clinic shared with others – there is great solace in seeing that our deepest desires, fears, disappointments and joys resonate in the experiences of other people.  In sharing these important stories, we find companions, hope and pleasure in the journey to come.


In other news since my last post:   I was very honoured to be nominated as a ‘Magic Mentor’ in the UK magazine ‘South East Rider’ by a dear student of mine, Christine West. She has a beautiful Lusitano named Zunido.  You can see the article in South East Rider magazine here: http://www.southeastrider.co.uk/2013/south-east-rider-june-2013-2/

I’ve also been giving clinics in Sweden and England. I think the pictures will speak louder than my words – I hope you will enjoy them.
Photos courtesy of Colin West.

Photograph by Colin West.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Photos courtesy of Colin West.

Photograph by Colin West.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Photo taken by Ulrika Malm.

Photograph by Ulrika Malm.

Cross Country Jumps

It’s been a while since my last post and there’s a lot to write about.  The biggest development is that I’ve moved myself and my little family – human, equine and canine – to be closer to my nearest and dearest ones in Sweden.  In some ways it’s the end of a very important era for me – starting with my education with Mestre Luis Valenca; the tours with Apassionata; working at Morgardo Lusitano and more recently developing my own business at Quinta do Brejo.  On the other hand I’m pleased to say that while Portugal will no longer be my home, it will still be one of my places of work.  I’ll be maintaining my relationship with Quinta do Brejo as a venue for regular courses and riding holidays, so it will still be possible to come and ride with me in Portugal. And I’ll continue to work with local breeders, of course.

But my day-to-day life will now continue in the North.  And I’m really looking forward to the challenges and opportunities this will bring.  To mark the closing of this particular chapter, though, I thought I would share a few glimpses of a typical working day at Quinta do Brejo.

The film shows horses in training and under development. The first is a horse we have used for giving lessons, who – before he came to us – was originally trained for traditional Portuguese mounted bullfighting, but was found not to suit the purpose. He has such a good heart and is very willing to work, but he has needed time to find his own balance and feel comfortable with a rider.

The darker grey horse, Cartuxo, is my own. He is a lovely strong horse with a very good mind. He was started quite late, and has taken some time to find balance as his physique has developed, but he’s really starting to show his potential now.

As you will see, our small 15×30 indoor arena is often busy with different riders and horses at different stages of development. But the work we do is essentially the same, regardless of size, age or experience. The little boy is practicing movements such as piaffe and passage on our own schoolmaster, Ulisses. You also see a man riding his mare.  I think Mestre Nuno Oliveira would be pleased to see his farm so full with activity and passion.