Cheque’s Progress

This is Cheque, who you might remember from a previous post. He is a 4 year old Lusitano stallion – the first horse I brought with me to Quinta do Brejo. Now he’s been in training for almost a year.

Cheque is going to stay with me for a few more months of schooling before he moves to his new home in Sweden and I’m very pleased I’ll get the chance to see him develop – he’s a lovely horse to work with.  At this point in his training we’re still working on the basics, but now I’m also adding some lateral steps and a few transitions from walk to his programme.

This video shows our first attempt at a counter canter in our small arena. The counter canter is a good exercise to help a horse develop his balance, but Cheque is a little young to do very much of this exercise, so we take it gently and only every now and again. His canter in general is now becoming more balanced, even though he sometimes drops a little onto his forehand. He can do this in trot too, but he is a big young horse with a lot to carry and is still growing. With time, and as his musculature develops, his balance will improve.  It’s important not to rush a young horse into advanced work before they are ready. And adding lots of variety in the work we do ensures we don’t ask too much of them too soon.

I also do a lot of work from the ground with Cheque, which helps with his suppleness.  Cavalettis and easier jumps help with his athletic development, but they also add variety and stimulation in his work – it’s good that he has fun too!

I try always to read the signals the horse is giving me so that I only ask for what he can give me.  A young horse goes through different stages of growth and development – their physicality, mental maturity and even their changing teeth will all impact on the way that they respond to the work we’re asking of them.  So if it sometimes feels that the horse is a bit unbalanced again or not always developing forward, I don’t worry. I try to think of our development together (and the relationship he’ll form with his new owner) as a long journey, not a sprint – given time and patient work, the pieces will fall into place.


November news from Quinta do Brejo

So now the annual phenomenon that is the Golegã horse fair is over and it is with a satisfied tiredness that we now look forward to beginning the preparations for Christmas. Here’s what has been happening with us over the past few weeks…

Charlotte Wittbom at Quinta do Brejo, by Emma Noren

AT GOLEGÃ

The week of the Golegã fair was a busy time for all of us here at Quinta do Brejo – Don Tomas and Donna Antonia Alercão and myself.  We had very dramatic weather including heavy rain, thunder and lightning and of course some sun in between. But thankfully we were lucky  to experience the horse fair under calm skies.

It’s almost impossible to describe the atmosphere of Golegã  – the confusion of horses and riders criss-crossing with pedestrians; tourists and locals pouring through streets and out of restaurants and bars; the smells of nuts roasting and regional delicacies being cooked from street stalls. All life is there, from smartly turned out dressage riders performing their perfect flying changes, to the comical sight of Shetland ponies pulling small wagons filled with big burly men. We took a lovely group of guests to visit the fair, all of whom had also decided to stay for some riding lessons with us. It’s a wonderful way to get a taste of everything the Lusitano horse and Portuguese horse culture has to offer.

CLINICS IN SWEDEN…

I was also recently teaching a series of clinics in my native Sweden, where I was really pleased to see my students making some great steps forward.  Of course progress always develops most strongly from the foundation that understanding and a thoughtful approach brings. To want to gain this understanding requires a certain patience and calmness from the rider. And as a teacher it is always very encouraging and empowering to see students who really want to learn with an open and inquisitive mind.  So it was with real pleasure that we started to work with flying changes, half-steps, piaffe and passage. I am really looking forward to seeing them all again in the new year.

IN THE MEDIA…Charlotte Wittbom in Hästfocus Magazine

This month I am featured in the Swedish magazine Hästfocus, which gives some training advice.

You can click here to take a look at the article via the publisher’s website.

GIFT VOUCHERS…

We now have gift vouchers available to buy at any value you wish (minimum €10), which can be exchanged for clinics near you, or for riding holidays here at Quinta do Brejo.  We will happily provide a simple voucher, or please do contact us to discuss a suggested package for a clinic, riding lesson, 3 day or 7 day programme to give as a gift.  Contact us at info@charlottewittbom.com to discuss your requirements or ask any questions.

Charlotte Wittbom Gift Voucher

With very best wishes, Charlotte.

*Photo of Charlotte above by Emma Noren.

A busy start to the month – in Portugal and the ABRS Conference, England

What a full and interesting beginning to the month it has been. On Monday I had the honour to deliver a presentation to the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) annual conference in Oxford, UK.  I want to thank ABRS for their invitation and the delegates for their warm welcome. It was also interesting to have an insight into how it is to run a riding school in the UK and to listen to the other speakers. I like to take every opportunity to learn from other riders and from other horse cultures. It was a very giving day.

Riding lesson at Quinta do Brejo.

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Some thoughts for the day: On Training

Here is a small video clip of Vip, showing his recent progress. He is a horse that really wants to please – sometimes even too much! He’s starting, though, to become more confident and relaxed in his work, which has meant we’ve been able to attempt some of the higher collected movements, such as flying changes. Each time we train, we work on small progressions – satisfaction comes from a simple improvement done well.

 

Quite often while teaching clinics or lessons, I’m struck by the way that we can all too easily focus on small detailed things rather than the bigger picture of what we’re trying to achieve with our horses and ourselves. I think it’s very important to have a holistic sense of the training of horse and rider – what we want to achieve and how we’ll try to get there. Every exercise we do in training is then a preparation for the next, progressing steadily toward the objective of a supple, light horse that enjoys work and moves in self-carriage and balance without getting injuries or other problems.

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Lusitano Horse Feira in Golegã: 4th-13th November 2011

Times flies and before long the first cool breeze of autumn will freshen the last hazy days of summer. This is an exciting time here at Quinta do Brejo, because we know the annual Lusitano Horse Feira in Golegã will soon be upon us!

Golegã is an experience like no other. All of the breeders bring their best horses and compete for the attention of the public with colourful displays and performances. The air is filled with music and the bustle of so many people and horses, together with the atmospheric smells of regional delicacies cooking and the smoked castanje nuts you can snack on as you explore. The festivities carry on late into the night, beyond the arenas and into the bars and restaurants, where at this time it’s commonplace that guests might have four legs as well as two!

Please take a look at the programme here http://www.horsefairlusitano.org.

Why not combine the horse fair with riding lessons at Quinta do Brejo? You would be most welcome to stay with us and we’ll happily arrange your journey to and from Golegã. We’re at your service and hope to welcome you soon.

Castor in training

This is Castor, a young stallion. A client brought him to me for training in April this year and – although he is still young and inexperienced – has shown very good qualities. While making this video, a mare and foal were free in the adjacent field, but Castor has a good mind and enjoys his work – he stayed focussed and calm. I have been very pleased with his progress.