37. Meanwhile

Blog 37 - “Meanwhile…”

40th in Portugal 2013.
Thanks to my dear friends Jacqui, Andy and Julia (who has Wackie on loan) I went on a really therapeutic riding break in Portugal. 

The last time I had had a “proper” holiday was the summer of my 40th birthday and to celebrate we four Chapmans, my parents, one of my sisters and her two children spent a fab fortnight in a beautiful villa belonging to another generous friend who did us the most amazing deal (thank you Nicola).  But as lovely as it was, and it was, I was ready to come home well before our fortnight was up.

I’m not really a “holiday” person, after years of effort I have constructed a life from which I do not feel the need to “get away” and while I enjoy or day or two out, I can wind-down quickly and am ready to get back to it promptly.  

I appreciate that my level of “contentment” could appear arrogant but I make no apology for it!  

If this is something you aspire to (and I’m not saying it should be) - go for it, if we can do it then you can do it too.  

My parents ran a successful and stressful business and my mother cannot understand how Chris and I could be happy with the odd couple of days away.  (This is something that we realised be missed after the loss of Mac and now commit to doing so a couple of times a year.)  I remember how stressful it was for my parents, running their own business, managing staff and having a family and I respect them for that and all that they achieved and did for us – but I do not want the same things that they did and do.  I saw what running businesses like that did to as well as for my parents and to and for Chris, but we wanted something different, so we made it happen.  

And if being happy means you want a regular income, sick, holiday and maternity pay then enjoy all the efforts you put in to your work so that you can enjoy your well-earned time-off with your horses and family.  To slightly misquote Reinhold Niebuhr, “Change what you cannot accept and accept what you cannot change.” 

Back to Portugal.  Jacqui and Andy had visited St André Lusitanos (STAL) before and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  

Lessons are taught by Antonio Borba, Master rider at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (PSEA) and he is ably assisted by other eminently well qualified and very experienced teachers on school master horses.  The whole stay could not be made easier and we could not have been made to feel more welcome.  

Tatao (Antonio’s wife) ferried us to and from the airport and made sure that we were well provided for in every way.  

There was a relaxed organised disorganisation, no doubt compounded by our visit coinciding with Antiono having a nasty chest infection, but everything we had booked (and more) was delivered. 

On arrival Tatao was apologetic that we had timed our visit for when the PSEA had no shows for us to go and see, but this was more than made up for by us being given a guided tour behind the scenes and watching the PSEA training their horses.  

The wonderful Tatao was mystified though that we did not take up her kind offers to be taken shopping and sightseeing, instead we chose to enjoy the horses, the cottage on-site, the plentiful food and drink available within easy walking distance and to sleep – a lot.

STAL’s horses are well schooled and they are “school masters” in the truest 
sense of the word, they require “real” riding, it’s far from a fairground ride of experiencing “high school” dressage that is stage-managed from the ground.  The horses only give back, and the instructors only allow the rider to demand what they are able to put in.  I think that this is far more realistic than a lot of what’s on offer and I did learn a lot.  But on returning home I thought back to something that my Dad had asked me after I had been for training with Ferdi Eilberg.  He asked me, “So what was the biggest thing that you learned?”  I knew that my Dad did not to know about everything that I had learned, just the BIGGEST thing.  I thought long and hard and my response was, “If that’s what it takes to ride at that level then I don’t want it that much.” 

The experience of riding with Ferdi was very different from riding at STAL but the feelings I had when I got home were similar.  

I want my horses to be willing, receptive, and able to respond to me in way that fits my belief system.  

This absolutely is not intended as a criticism, I would encourage anyone looking for such an experience to visit STAL over and above a lot of other places.  It was just what the doctor ordered, the timing was perfect and I cannot thank all at STAL, Jacqui, Andy and Julia enough - but I won’t be going back, I’ll be working on myself and with my own horses in my own way instead.

Next time, "Treading Water?" published 15th June.

For those searching online for more “instructional” resources than offered in these blogs please make use of my video downloads www.ashenec.co.uk

No comments:

Post a Comment