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.

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…

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!

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.

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

Arte Equestre

Recently we welcomed a new friend to Quinta do Brejo for a riding holiday. She revealed a wonderful talent to us that we would like to share with you…

Bailador, Lusitano stallion www.charlottewittbom.com

Quinta do Brejo - www.charlottewittbom.com

Diamante - www.charlottewittbom.com

Diamante with Charlotte Wittbom - www.charlottewittbom.com

Diamante with Charlotte Wittbom - www.charlottewittbom.com

Diamante with Charlotte Wittbom - www.charlottewittbom.com

Quinta do Brejo - www.charlottewittbom.com

Erus - www.charlottewittbom.com

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Dante with Charlotte Wittbom - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante at Quinta do Brejo www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante with Charlotte Wittbom - www.charlottewittbom.com

Quinta do Brejo - www.charlottewittbom.com

This series of photographs was taken by Ulrika Malm – a recent guest at Quinta do Brejo who works as a professional photographer. You can click on the images to enlarge them. And you can see more of her beautiful work at www.ulrikamalm.se.  Thank you to Ulrika for allowing us to share the images here.

‘Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda’ (Dante)

Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda” – “A great flame follows a little spark”.  (Paradiso: Canto I; The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri)

Each day working with horses creates a small step forward. But these small steps create great strides over time. It’s often only when I look back over photographs of my journey with a horse that I can appreciate how far we have travelled.

This time I have had fun looking back on my work with Dante. In September last year, I wrote about his arrival at Quinta do Brejo. It will soon be a year since those words were written. Dante was then a spirited little horse with a funny short mane and a big personality.  He has matured into an elegant horse with deep intelligence behind his kind eyes. Here are some photos that will show you his progress. I hope you will enjoy them.

Dante with his breeder, September 2011 -  www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante, October 2011 - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante, November 2011 - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante, November 2011 - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante, August 2012 - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante August 2012 - www.charlottewittbom.com

Dante, August 2012 - www.charlottewittbom.com