I landed back on home shores late yesterday after two intensive weeks away, bookended by long haul flights that saw me travel from one end of the globe to the other. Coming home is always an interesting experience. Everything is instantly familiar and yet at the same time, feels one step removed as your brain scrambles to remap where it is you are in space and your place in it.
One thing that always stuck with me from my studies of brain science is how good travel is repatterning behavior and pulling us out of stuck-ness. The novelty of our surroundings and experience provides a burst of sensory input that scrambles our brain maps as we know them and allows us to invent ourselves anew. We literally are required to be someone different, and it’s for this reason that travel can be both liberating and confronting.
For me, this trip was a combination of many long mused on ideas and dreams come to life. First, a two-day retreat, followed soon after by two-part online workshop held over two days, a two-day clinic in Ireland, and then a five-day advanced Masterson training before landing in an inspired but tired heap on the doorstep of my beautiful friend, Kathy Price in Wales.
But let’s start where all stories must, which is at the beginning. I shared the first week of my adventures with the infinitely fabulous Rupert Isaacson, which was a treasured experience in more ways that I can mention. I know I share this with many other professionals and self-employed people when I say that working for yourself can be somewhat of a lonely endeavour. I have the joy of connecting with many people over the course of my day with my work, but to actual stand beside someone and share the experience of teaching is something that is very new for me. And, as I discovered, something that I really loved.
It’s a blessing to discover someone to work with who you can ping ideas around with and where the conversation and idea flow is fluid and connected. Teaching in collaboration not only allows you to share the energy required to hold space for people in a learning setting, but allows for a level of creativity, ingenuity and enthusiasm that is impossible to emulate as a solo act.
Our first event together was our retreat called Longing & Belonging, held in gorgeous Bishops Castle on the borders of England and Wales. After flying in on the Friday, Rupert drove up to collect me (I landed up country at a different airport) and we made our way on to Wales to get set up. As we were also catering the retreat, we pulled in at the supermarket for supplies, bleary eyed but enthusiastic. We took a trolley each and after a measured and considered start, we progressed to panic buying after staring at what we had selected and wondering if it was enough to feed 12 people for an entire weekend.
The result at the checkout was us in peals of laughter and the checkout lady remarking in incredulous fashion how she hadn’t seen a shop like this for quite some time as we loaded up supplies that were enough to feed a small nation.
Despite our over-buying, the retreat weekend a pleasure on every level. We gathered with ten other incredible people (thank you to you all!!) and shared stories, conversations and adventures in the surrounding outdoors that left me inspired, grateful and hopeful.
What strikes me most is just how interesting everyone is. Everyone’s stories, perspective, histories that have brought them to this moment, hopes and aspirations are so rich and full, even if our own self-assessment of the same things leaves us feeling a little blah-di-blah. To share these in person was a tremendous honor and one that I hope to repeat many times over in the future.
From there, we launched into our online Vitality workshop, that we held over the course of two evenings. I have to say, the energy of the people involved- the engagement, interaction, and thought-provoking questions- blew me away. It also made me realise how important it is to take time for conversations that take us beyond the practical and logistical to consider what it is that animates and enlivens us from the inside out.
Again, I’m so grateful to everyone that was a part of it and am looking forward to the following workshops later in the year that expand on the same discussions.
It was a plane ride at this point to my favourite city Dublin and then a driving adventure to the yard of Liz and Willy Frayling in Waterford. Up until this point, our escapades had been of the horse-less variety, so it was lovely to stand once again in the arena and get to play with a group of lovely people and their equally lovely horses.
The morning session involved theory workshops, with Rupert discussing the origins of classical dressage and a model of training progression from the ground up, and me talking about the influence of the nervous system on rider biomechanics and how an understanding of the fascial trains and what I refer to as balance lines and movement arcs in our horses can allow us to find greater harmony as riders.
We then took it to the sand pit and had a lot of fun working both in hand and under saddle exploring the patterns Rupert teaches and the work that I am so passionate about. For me, this particular experience was a big one as much of what I teach and work with sits slightly left of centre in comparison to what we are traditionally taught from a rider position and biomechanics perspective. My instructions and conversations with riders incorporated understandings of sensory work, movement lines, fascial trains, and organ placement which I recognized was not the usual and it was a pleasure to work with riders who were so open and receptive to what was offered.
In addition to thanking the clinic goers, a huge thank you to Liz and Willy for not only the amazing space but for the loan of your horses and everything you made possible.
The Ireland clinic marked the end of the first week of teaching and from here Rupert and I parted ways as I flew to Cheshire for the Advanced Masterson training. I have so many things that I want to share with you from both this week and the one prior that I’ll write in different posts on each, save to say that it was a blessing to get to learn more about this incredible work with the group of people that I was with, and to be led by the awesome Vicky Devlin and supported by the gorgeousness that is Leigh Jackson and Sam Naylor. Thank you so much for everything ladies, you made the experience an amazing one.
Looking forward to catching up with everyone in social media land and continuing to share my learnings with you over the next couple of weeks!