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.

 

 

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.

Rein, Rein, Go Away!

Photo by Ulrika Malm

Teaching clinics in different countries shows me that there are still cultural differences in this global age. In Portugal, a spot of rain or a cool breeze is reason enough to hide indoors. In Sweden – where I have been teaching clinics for much of the last month – temperatures of -22 degrees aren’t sufficient to deter clients from bringing their horse to a riding clinic. Then, in England – where I have been teaching this last week – clients come fully prepared for twelve months of weather in one day! But thankfully we have enjoyed beautiful early spring sunshine this time.

Photo by Ulrika Malm Photo by Maria Håkansson

Difficult weather conditions – whether extreme heat, sub-freezing cold or torrential rain – can get in the way of our enjoyment of riding and any training programme we may have planned. Our horses too can become frustrated if we can’t ride, work them or let them loose as usual. Then when we can take an opportunity to work with them, their stored up energy can make them difficult to handle.

Of course, having access to an indoor arena makes things easier, but when it is -22 degrees, it even freezes inside! In such circumstances, attempting concentrated work with a horse that just wants to run and buck is very difficult. The best thing is to accept the situation, ride when it is possible and work the horse in hand when the weather or ground conditions don’t allow riding.  If you can hack out, perhaps incorporate some leg yields, shoulder in, or other lateral work on a quiet road where it’s safe to do so.

Any kind of developmental work you can do is better then nothing at all, but if you can’t ride or train at all for a while – it’s ok: your horse won’t forget what you have been doing. In fact a break can help him to process things and mature, so that when you pick up training again he’ll be better prepared in his mind, if not in his body.

Thank you to my students and friends across Sweden and in Oxfordshire, where I had the pleasure to teach for the first time last weekend. It was a joy to move from the bleak Scandinavian winter to see snowdrops hopefully heralding the lengthening sunny days in England.  I’m looking forward to the next visit.

Thanks to Ulrika Malm and Maria Håkansson for the photographs from my clinics in Sweden.

December Reflections

And so to December: the closing of the year. At this time, I – like many of you, I’m sure – often find myself reflecting on the achievements of the preceding months while looking forward to new plans for January. It has been a very rewarding and busy year at Quinta do Brejo so far – full with the coming and going of horses, guests and friends, both old and new. And beyond Portugal I’ve enjoyed developing my clinics in Sweden and the UK – there will be more of those next year, I’m happy to say.

My Swedish roots feel strong at this time of year: Even after all this time spent in Portugal, December for me means snow and mulled wine and log fires. And I know that many of my friends from the North are already enjoying beautiful winter landscapes and life-affirming cold!  But here in Portugal we can still enjoy some sun, which is not all bad, of course!

This month Swedish magazine ‘Kentaur’ have published a beautifully written article about Quinta do Brejo and our riding holidays – http://www.kentaurmagasin.se. In all good Swedish stores now!

Charlotte Wittbom clinic, Sweden -www.charlottewittbom.com

I’ve also just returned from another teaching trip to Sweden and I want to thank everyone for making these clinics so interesting and enjoyable. I love to revisit long-term students and see the progress they have made since the last time. Of course it’s always lovely and gratifying to welcome new students too!  Each introduces different horses, challenges, experiences and hopes, yet they are bound together by a common love of riding and desire to improve their horsemanship. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to share their journeys with them.  Above and below are some photos taken by Ulrika Malm from a recent clinic in Sweden.

Charlotte Wittbom clinic, Sweden -www.charlottewittbom.com

Equador, PSL Lusitano - www.charlottewittbom.com

Between the Poles via Equador

We have another new arrival at Quinta do Brejo: Equador.  He is a handsome 3 year old PSL Lusitano from the breeder, Quinta da Encosta. His movement is beautiful – we’re really looking forward to how he develops over the coming months.

We’re almost overflowing with riches now! Our stables at Quinta do Brejo are full with horses and there’s a wonderful vibrancy and productivity about the place. Very soon though we will bid a fond farewell to a few of our favourite horses as they reach the end of their training here and join their owners elsewhere. There’s always a bitter-sweet feeling when that day comes, but seeing how horses and their riders form a bond and go on to enjoy their life together makes up for any sadness we feel in saying goodbye.

Equador, PSL Lusitano - www.charlottewittbom.com

I’ve also had a busy time in Sweden giving a number of clinics. One thing I love about teaching clinics is the variety of work I find myself involved in.  I never quite know who and what I’ll be asked to work with and I need to improvise and work flexibly to help with the many different riders, horses, problems and opportunities I see. In these photographs, you’ll see we’re using pole work as an aid to improving the horse’s balance and strength. In particular we were working on developing the passage over poles. I think it’s very important, as well as enjoyable, to add as much variety to your schooling and riding as possible. Both you and the horse will benefit in lots of ways from the new challenges, but it’s also stimulating and fun.

Pole work to improve balance and strength www.charlottewittbom.com

Pole work to improve balance and strength www.charlottewittbom.com

Pole work to improve balance and strength www.charlottewittbom.com

Pole work to improve balance and strength www.charlottewittbom.com

Happy Easter

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Easter. It has been a wonderful weekend here, with warm, sunny weather. It’s made a very welcome change from the snow,  hail and rain that accompanied my recent clinics in Sweden. But nevertheless I want to thank all the participants for making those sessions so enjoyable despite the conditions. As usual there was a lot of enthusiasm, thirst for learning and warm friendship, which makes my work all the more satisfying.

Together with my Easter wishes I’ve also uploaded a small clip to show recent progress with Vip, our 10 year old Luistano. This time we’re working with greater collection as we progress to the higher school movements.