Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Beautiful Nature

I have always loved being surrounded by nature and the older I grow the more I seem to enjoy it. I can hardly get enough of our hacks outside with Thor and the long walks with our dog Jack in the mornings just seem to get longer and longer. 

Nature has always been my element and that is where I feel at home. There have been many memorable moments where nature has shown its best sides but this autumn has been absolutely amazing. There has been mornings and evenings where I just watch and stare at the scenery. The nature slowly turning into autumn colours, and the weather turning crispier, preparing for the winter to arrive.

What I have found so amazing with this autumn is the light. There has been so much light and so many different light phenomenons. It is almost like the nature is a painting and it is playing with a different brush every day. 

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson goes back to the basics

I had the pleasure to watch Rolf-Göran Bengtssons clinic at Ratsastuskeskus Aino in September. I have not had the time to see any clinics for a while so I was really excited when we hit the road together with my friend Hanna Nyholm.

Anyone who follows showjumping knows that "Roffe" is already a legend and his merits are wide. Even if he is such a wellknown horseman it was nice to see that he still paid a lot of attention to the basic things in riding and also reminding how important it is with good horse management, routines, structure and planning. He was also talking about the importance of the riders both physical and mental training and how important it is to have a good trainer or coach to work with. 

"We do simple boring things but we need them in order to jump bigger."

When riding himself or teaching the other riders he was doing a lot of basic warm-up. He did a lot of transitions in walk, trot and canter and asked the horse to both shorten and extend in all gaits. "This is rideability."

"I ask easy questions to the horse. When I use my leg I want the horse to move forward. I need that when going towards a jump. When we shorten the trot we create a little more energy with the leg and get the horse to carry itself. When the horse has self-carriage it becomes lighter in the front and better balanced. It is important that we can ride the horse faster, slow it down and have control over the horse." 

"The horse needs to be adjustable to the fence since the course designers make such funny ways."


When Roffe asked the riders to ride on a circle he pointed out the importance of the outside aids many times. "The outside rain is very important. It creates the stability needed on the circle."  On the circle he asked the riders to move the horse away from the inside leg. "When we move the horse away from the inside leg, we get a horse that is more supple in its body. Remembering however that when we go to the side we should not loose the movement forward." I also liked how he talked about taking the outside shoulder away from the wall when turning the horse from the fence close to the wall.


When Bengtsson was riding a fantastic stallion the horse was a bit spooky in the beginning. It was so interesting to follow how calm Roffe remained and how confidently he just sat in the saddle. Then he said what I have always believed is true. "Don't push the horse toward what it is afraid of. Slowly walk around it and get the horse used to the scary thing (in this case the dogs that were sitting around that one fence)." A lot of the times we see riders 'making' the horse go toward the scary thing rather than slowly getting the horse acquainted to it. That same week there was a real storm when I had my riding lesson with Thor. We went down to the indoor arena and the doors were flying open, the trees were whooshing outside and the horses were running around next to the arena outside in the field. I felt a bit insecure and stiffened up a bit. Luckily our trainer Tiina Rikkonen was there to support us and I had the image of Bengtsson riding the stallion in my mind. It really helped and not only did I have an alert horse but a very fantastic ride despite the storm. 


During the clinic Bengtsson also checked if the horse was able to lengthen and shorten the neck. Having a supple horse is something that I have always considered important, but Roffe explained why it is also so important when jumping the horse. 

"Lengthening and shortening a horses neck also helps in the jump. When the horse jumps over the fence and is unstable in the mouth, the horse might shorten and lift up the head rather than lengthen the neck which helps in the jumping face. You want to have a connection to the mouth but not the horse leaning on the hand."

Bengtsson also talked about how important is to have a relaxed horse when riding. "Remember to let the horse have a little bit of freedom also and to be able to relax." He then asked us to listen to the stallion he was riding breathing in rhythm to the canter compared to when the horse entered the arena and was very stiff and had a hard time breathing.  

At one point in the clinic Bengtsson let the horse lengthen the stride between the fences. He thought that the horse would make the decisions himself, but the horse was a bit lost for words and almost tripped on its own legs. Bengtsson rode the horse to the line again and the horse was still not totally at ease with the distance. Roffe was later joking that it could have been very dangerous and how much it hurts when you fall off nowadays at a bit older age. It did however create a very dangerous situation and one thing that Bengtsson also pointed at the clinic was how important it is to let the horse think for himself and let them learn to make important decisions. 

During the clinic we also heard that the rider should not look down because you loose your balance. He also said that he usually puts soft poles behind the fence in case that the horse would jump too far off and land on the pole. He also told the riders to walk over the soft pole before jumping the fence so that the horse knows that the pole is there. 

All in all it was a fun evening. I got to see some great riding and spend time with my friends Hanna  Nyholm (a fantastic Equiopath) and Equinurtures Elisabeth Nysten. Thank you Ratsastuskeskus Aino for organizing such a great event. 

Elisabeth also told me about this interesting group on Facebook. It is called Vertikal Balanserad Ridning (VBR), and anyone even remotely interested in the horse and human cooperation and in the riders seat I warmly reommend joining (the site is in Swedish). 

Monday, October 8, 2018

What is your story?

This picture was taken from my morning walk with our dog this morning. 

What is your story?

My story is loneliness and rejection. Always feeling aside and hardly ever a part of a community. My story is embedded deep within me and only through my yoga and meditation practice have I slowly been able to start to alter my story.

I hear stories from people all the time. Thoughts built up around themselves that in no way resonate with others and are very hard to understand, but are so deeply built in that one humans DNA that it is hard to change the cover however hard we try. 

"Sharpen up", they say. "Just get it together", they say. 
We live in a society where being tough and speeding through life are considered virtues. We live in a culture where we look up to people having one million things going on at the same time, never really having time for some rest. We are so far from where nature intended us to be that we forget all about the nature inside of us. 

We are brought up thinking that it is cool to do things that others consider important. We hardly ever stop and listen to who we really are and what we really do. When we strip away the job, the apartment, the croissant, the running every day, or the partner, who are we and what is our true purpose?

"In the West we are taught from an early age that what we do and how we own are the sole components for measuring whether we are "successfull". We measure our success and that of others through this limited vantage point, judging and dismissing anything that falls outside these narrow parameters. What yoga teaches us is that who we are and how we are constitute the ultimate proof of a life lived in freedom." - Donna Farhi

Rather than being so strong and forward all the time, maybe we could just stop and be vulnerable. Just quit doing so much all the time and stare at those thoughts and whatever comes up with and open mind. Maybe be true to what we feel and not be afraid of showing emotions. We are so afraid of letting those tears come out through those eyes of ours or those angry screams manifest themselves through our mouths that we rather keep the tears inside and the noise buried somewhere deep within our hip joints.

If we don't let it out, it will stay in. 

We all have our limiting beliefs. Even famous people like Josh Groban have anxiety attacks and has been suffered from depression. It is important to raise these issues and talk about them. And to tell people that you are not alone.