I always have the best of intentions of sharing my adventures in real time when I’m on the road. The truth of it is, however, by the end of each day of teaching I neither have the words nor thoughts to share anything of value (neuroscientists describe this condition as “better just go to sleep because what you write will probably be drivel”). I also get so excitable in the moment that all thoughts of posting elude me. BUT what that has created is lots of space for us to steam towards yet another Weekly Feels blog, which is exactly what I have for you now.
Over the last 10 days, I have taught a three-day camp with Kate Sandel, a two-day clinic with Rupert Isaacson and a weekend retreat with Kathy Price and Tania Kindersley. At the time of writing this, I am in Germany (my bag, incidentally, is not and still lurks somewhere between here and Scotland having a lovely time on its own, which could be the sixth feel of this blog- slightly sad with a whiff of frustration). Because there are JUST. SO. MANY. feels to share from this time, I’m going to shave off the retreat from this week’s adventures and add it to next week’s escapades. Let’s do this.
LIKE I’VE JUST OPENED A BOX OF CHOCOLATES AND I GET FIRST PICK & IM SO EXCITED I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE 🍫
The Camp of The South that I co-taught with Kate Sandel has been many months in the making. We were so fortunate to be able to host it at Ayton PRE stud, home of the fabulous Nicola and Tom, who went out of their way to make sure everything had what they needed, but beyond that, that they felt as comfortable and taken care of as possible. If every person venturing out with their horse landed in the arms of such generosity at the other end, we’d all be fighting our way to clinics on the daily.
If I thought I was spoiled having such a gorgeous space to teach in, the gratitude was increased exponentially through teaching with the incredible Kate Sandel and the wonderful horse and rider combinations we were lucky enough to work with. Kate and I pinged back and forth depending on what we felt the main emphasis needed to be, and what best served the combination in that moment. Although this is always the aim, in practice it can be a tricky dish to serve; as riders, we often arrive to clinics with a list of things we want to accomplish and work on, and to be willing to let that go in favor of what shows up in that moment is often easier said than done.
The riders were full of courage, grace, good humour, and curiosity, and together we played with a variety of different techniques, swinging between horse focus and rider focus, that created such a rich ground for learning and possibility. Those auditing were also supportive, invested and involved, and I consider myself very lucky to be a part of it.
Thank you so much to everyone that came. The pleasure was mine.
In March, the fabulous Rupert Isaacson and I taught a clinic together in Ireland, and Joanna Smith had flown over from England to audit. She asked if we would consider running a clinic at her yard in Leicestershire, which is how we ended up with another group of glorious peeps, and a handsome crew of horses.
The clinic was a combination of theory and practice, exploring the nervous system and movement from my end and classical dressage, both in hand and in the saddle from Rupert’s.
As per above, it’s always wonderful to work with such a supportive and interested group of people- something I never take for granted (especially when you are introducing thought processes which can be new and not necessarily mainstream) and working with Ru is always a pleasure.
Thank you for being such a glorious group of people who tolerate my often-bad jokes and are willing to dance when Ru begins singing funky town tunes.
I love these women. I don’t need to write much other than to say, I can only hope that everyone gets to experience the type of love and friendship they give me on the daily. Naturally resting on the foundation of much inappropriate humour and collective frivolity. Two photos for the one feels!
A little while back, Tania Kindersley told me the story of the oak forest that grows a few minutes’ walk from her house. In the 1930’s a 25-year-old woman called Pamela had stood in that forest and said no to the men who wanted to cut it down. The story moved me so much that I’ve thought about Pamela every day since. I even feel like, within the colorful depths of my imagination, that we’ve become friends.
I often think of what it took, as a woman of that time with little power, autonomy, or voice, to say no to those men in grey suits. To say yes to those beautiful trees. I’m filled with admiration and wonder at her feist, her determination and her strength. I’m filled with awe at the stately oaks. I’ve thought about the concept of legacy and creating one. What could be more beautiful, if nothing else was left to whisper your name, than to have the spirit of a hundred oaks stand for you.
As I stood in that forest I looked up and said thank you to Pamela. You will never know me but my heart thanks you, and in 2023, someone you will never know carries a little piece of you with them.
I saw your oaks, and I understand. Thank you.
HALF A STEP BEYOND RIDICULOUS DELIGHT 😆 🌭
I mean, check this puppy. As part of my Scottish adventures, Tania took Kathy, myself, and the lovely Emma from Horseback UK to the Fyffe Hotel for lunch. Having rather outdone myself at breakfast, I wasn’t feeling that hungry, so I choose the sausage off the starter menu.
The thing to point out at this stage was ordering the sausage was an experience in itself. I was so transfixed by my kilted waiter’s accent that I couldn’t look him directly in the eye, choosing instead to angle my shoulder in towards him like a somewhat dissociated horse you are working on the circle and look out the window instead.
When said sausage was delivered, we shared a bonding moment in the form of a snigger and a giggle snort. When they said sausage, they really delivered. It was literally a sausage on a plate.
Now I’m no chef, but if I was, I wouldn’t let that order leave my kitchen without some sort of garnish. Something to add a splash of colour. Break up the hard lines. But then I thought NO.
This sausage is, in fact, a metaphor for owning your own worth. Clearly this was a bloody good sausage*. And when you are bloody good, you can own your space on the plate without any need for anything else. Except perhaps a bit of mustard.
So, I told everyone us their meals looked cluttered, which told me a lot about the self-esteem of the food on their plate, and I ate my sausage.
*It was a great sausage.
Much love to your feeling self,