In 1999 I relocated my horse-focused business onto a 56ha site at Monarto, a rural area 65k's east from South Australia's capital, Adelaide, to pursue the next stage of my life. This particular stage relates
to both the 'horse-work' that I have been interested in for over 40 years and to the human 'better-way in
life’ understanding that I have become increasingly aware of over the past 30 years.
Prior to this move,
I managed a 2.5ha horse training/rider teaching and agistment facility at Morphett Vale, which is about 25k south of Adelaide. I had established this facility in 1979, after
having reached a point in my life where I was teaching riders to develop skills based upon the principles that related
to classical dressage. Teaching people these skills incorporated my awareness of how a horse thinks and feels. My
knowledge up to then had come from ideas and methods that I had come across/studied in earlier years.
these earlier 'knowledge gathering' opportunities include the opportunity to witness an Australian backing method
based upon gentling the horse by understanding the horses natural reactions thus knowing when the time for the next step would
be; the watching and working with a more aggressive horse breaker/rodeo and ‘trick’-horse rider; learning’s
from Tom Roberts, the South Australian horseperson/writer who had the ability to tune into a horse’s problems and work
My earlier experiences had included a wooden rocking horse at 5, riding lessons at 10, and my first
horse at 11. This horse then carried me in Pony Club Rallies, show jumping and hurdle jumping events at local shows before
being selected to represent the Marion Pony Club in a Teams Show Jumping event at the Adelaide Royal Agricultural Show in
the early 60s. Later I retired this horse to breed from her my second horse. I then entered the next stage of my career, undertaking
to obtain a more intelligent handle on horse-work via raising her foal, a colt, lunging and then backing him, to be the practise
horse in the fields of ‘show’ and showjumping training and competition over the next 7-8 years.
horse was born in 1965, and by 1975 I was ready to put into practise the knowledge and skills I knew I had and could work
with in teaching others more about working with their own horses.
Then there was Australia's
first Horse 'Expo', held in Adelaide
in 1975 [the first dressage club in Australia was
also formed in Adelaide some years before]. Having
witnessed the visiting 'elite' performing at this Expo, I was feeling confident that it was time to seriously look
at competing in dressage competition. This Expo brought Rosemary Springer from Germany to visit for a high level dressage clinic with both local and visiting top riders. I was greatly
inspired by watching her work with them - the flavour underlying her ideas and demands I could easily relate to, adding more
to my confidence.
It was then another 3 years until 1978, when the opportunity came for me to purchase the
property at Morphett Vale in order to set up my horse training and rider teaching establishment. By this time I had spent
two years attending training schools/having tuition with noted interstate and local instructors, being involved with a local
instructor training group, and had started in dressage competition, where I was fortunate to be placed at my first State Championship
effort in 1978. My experience up to this time also included training and teaching my daughter, Gail, on two ponies; starting
her on a Shetland pony at 5yo, then onto a welsh mountain pony at 7yo, with another 5 years organising her in competition
at local 'hack' shows and then into junior dressage on that pony until she grew out of it. Once Gail reached twelve
years old, I was more ready and able to put the time into my own riding in the public arena. A couple of years later
she and I had became more like team mates as we went off to competition on a more equal basis, her with her horses [plural
by then] and me with mine.
next 20 years I spent at Morphett Vale allowed me the time and space to work with many horses. Having become a full-time professional
in 'horse-work', I presented myself for the first Australian nationally accredited coach in-take held in South Australia in 1981. Working with our then National Coach
[Swede/Maj. T. Buramn] again reinforced that what I knew and that was doing was easily acceptable, gaining my Level 1 General
accreditation at that time and approval for Level 2 General a year later. I also witnessed the first batch of Australian Level
2 and 3 Coaches [our local 'elite' of those times] put through their paces, thus seeing the standard that was required
and accepted at this time of the Australian horse-world development.
Various other overseas trained instructors
have given approval to my work, both in competition and in judging clinics. The locals did not always see or think the same
way - just as our second National Coach in the later 80's placed great emphasis in teaching about horses having the ability
to go into long and low work when working with this states higher level dressage riders whilst our local top dressage trainer
did not know about this valid tool for the dressage horse, or did not understand it.
As my daughter grew into
adulthood, her interest in riding horses took her to eventually represent Australia in an overseas competition in 1991, along
with twice being selected onto the South Australian State Dressage Squad, having represented this state at National Competition
for a 1st Team placing. Gail and her first state squad horse also competed in Eventing at the same time as performing in this
National dressage competition.
My personal preference for the individual training of riders who presented themselves
to be taught has enabled me to get much closer to the minds and the physical aspect of each rider, allowing both connection
and empathy to occur, as to where they are at on their part of the riding journey.
The many horses coming through
my equitation centres, whether for agistment or training, have given me vast opportunity to test the ideas that I put
into use when training horses and their owners in dressage and jumping, both for private enjoyment and for competition 'success'.
Among the successes have been wins and placing at State, National and inter-nations Pan-Pacific Championships.
Although I also trained horses for their owners, this was not my preferred way of earning income with horses.
I was more drawn to teaching others how to ride and achieve their own goals. I preferred to ‘rider/trainer’
teach, working with a stable of horses that I personally trained and competed on. Riders had the choice
of learning skills either on my own horses or on theirs.
These experiences have given me considerable opportunity
to develop my ideas, seeing them tried and proven, with ribbons won by people taught how to train their own horses - which
has always been my focus - some now also teaching and training for an income, one even being heralded as her local district's
'natural' horseperson/trainer [female - dressage; her main skill].
My personal involvement in dressage competition continued until 1997, when, having sold my last
horse that year, I decided to move away from the involvement of competing on my own horse/s. While I
had been an official dressage judge for a number of years, I also moved away from that area of 'horses'
a couple of years ago, and will not be willing to return until the standard of knowledge of how dressage should be judge improves.
Hopefully, that will happen soon.
to that time, the highest level attained in my competition riding has been Medium/flying change level tests [3 horses/1 in
National Competition], and various other horses [8 approximately, with another 2 up to official Elementary/Shoulder-in level
at championship level] - all horses were personally trained without outside help before circumstances altered their continuing
future in competition. The aim of all the work with these horses was to improve their use as wonderful school horses in helping
me teach the dressage skills to others. Combined Dressage and Jumping contests were also part of some of these horses'
training -with the Medium Level National horse having won one Combined Event as part of his training to become the 'better'
horse that he became, showing this when he was selected for our State Advanced Dressage Squad with Gail riding him, 3
years later, having gone to Advanced/tempi change/canter pirouette level - and this was 15.1hh Arab.
So these years of practise, riding/training my own horses and teaching others how to work with them, have enabled me
to have plenty of practical training and teaching experience. I know how to get results wanted when riding
horses in dressage and jumping. The training I offer works to develop the required mental approach and
physical feel, for both horses and riders. But a client has to be willing to undertake the journey that
leads to achieving results that leave others in awe.
And just as my future-goal
in 1999 had been to make my ideas
available on a larger scale, similar still applies. The then-planned serious of books
on horse is currently underway, subject to available time. I offer free individual and group training,
subject to conditions, for people on their own horses at their own places. Individual training is available
for a fee, in person or via email.
Just how successful I will be with this different
focus in my life that has evolved since 1999 involves a matter of time and good fortune as I work with riders and their horses
towards producing the good results that I know my ‘work’ produces. I now work under the title
of Natural Horsemastership – Dressage and Jumping, hopefully to inform people that this is
what my work is about: riding based upon the principles that classical dressage is based upon. These principles
refer to the horse’s natural way of using itself when free, and the work I offer allow them to be ridden in ways that
promote the horse’s natural way of ‘being’ physically, along with its mental and emotional health.
To work well with horses towards such required a rider/trainer to become ‘master’-full in their work.
BUT don’t expect to see 'flashy stuff' results - as only plain, simple, solid, ethical
dressage riding and performance is the planned result. If this is what you want, then contact me and we can talk about what
our work together will entail. Then I can work with your and your learning in order to help you access the knowledge needed
by you to achieve the goals you have in sight.