my journey s t u d i o e v o l v i n g



Introduction



This is my journey of my passion for horses and riding and how this passion turned into
despair in my striving for the perfect riding performance. I thought their must be a better
way and my search led me to the work of the Australian, F. M. Alexander and 3 years full
time study to qualify as a teacher of the Alexander Technique.

The principles of the technique apply to a broad range of disciplines to increase an
awareness of self care. The technique is not a rider coaching course but it has changed
the way I look at my self and my self-awareness to such a degree that it has changed my
relationship with my horses and the way I ride.

After ten years of post graduate work on my self, I am now learning how to change, and
realise how much more I have to learn.

Background and Experience

I have had over 30 years experience and over 20 years teaching horse riding with a
passionate involvement in many fields of the industry including;

• Horse management
• Horse breaking
• Horse training and
• Competition

I have taught these skills to both individuals and groups such as pony clubs and adult
riding classes. I have had extensive experience in setting up adult riding clubs,
competitions and training days. During the 1980's I was part of a group (foundation
member) that established the Riding Schools Association, setting up standards for public
safety and horse welfare. During this time I was in a 10 year partnership managing a 80
acre property with 25 horses, preparing horses and riders and taking groups on horse
back on high country treks including organising all meals and safety backup with 4-wheel
drive support.

I trained 3 horses from the racetrack that had no dressage or jumping skills, to bring them
up to 3-day eventing level. During this time I traveled Victoria to compete and develop
skills and spared no effort in seeking trainers to learn from.

Eventing involves the multi-skilled disciplines of;

• Dressage
• Cross country
• Endurance
• Show jumping

I was always placed well in the dressage phase and often pleased to be vetted fittest
horse after the cross-country phase. Over the years being placed in most competitions
I took the horses from novice levels to open classes in 3-day eventing until I suffered a
serious accident on a course and injured my back. I have since concentrated on
dressage.

Losing Direction


Training to Hard


Over the years as a dressage competitor, I lost my joy and pleasure, the lightness,
beauty and grace in my riding. The unity and harmony eluded my connection with my
horses.

In dressage competition I reached a plateau at Medium/Advanced level.
Ambition driven with visions of trophies and medals. I trained harder and tried harder,
attending clinics, Judges, schools, with more coaching and training horses. I was still
in pain and my horses were in pain.



Pain



I tried yoga, aerobics and jogged for miles. I experimented with the horses trying
chiropractors, physiotherapists acupuncture etc., but the lameness and sore backs
prevailed. What was I doing? I'm sure I was not alone in this journey. Look around at
any competition/show and see unhappy riders and horses.

As a riding instructor I already appreciated the riders contribution and need to develop
body awareness and suppleness. We were already doing un-mounted warm-ups,
stretching, and yoga postures. There was something missing.





Stopping


To reflect and re-assess my direction I needed to stop. I stopped competition. I read
Sally Swifts Book ‘Centred Riding’ where she suggested that all riders and coaches
should look at the Alexander Technique to help find easeful movement and co-ordination.
My interest in the Alexander Technique coincided with the opening of the first Alexander
Technique teacher training school in Melbourne. (M.A.T.T.S.)

For me stopping competition and then 3 years training as an Alexander Teacher has
changed much of my approach to training horses and riding with much exploration.

Now 10 years after my graduation as a teacher of the Alexander Technique my thinking,
teaching and practice continues to evolve incorporating all that is useful and beneficial
for horses and riders well being. My passion is still the beauty of the unity in movement
that can be found in the bond shared by horse and rider in classical dressage,
particularly the dance enhanced with music.

Finding Direction

I continue to play with the training of our horses. Their shiny well-being reflects their
happy and balanced life, tactile therapy, diet, feet,saddle fit, varied work of trail riding,
gallops up hills, training in-hand, free play plus gymnastic development with dressage,
movement and cavalletti.

Our horses continue to humble and teach me something everyday. Sharing ‘horse sense’
with students who are never going to own a horse but benefit from their company and
movement, I find ia as rewarding as sharing the refinement of communication possible
to a competitive rider.

All riders, experienced or beginner (whatever discipline or area of horse interest) can
benefit from the insight the Alexander Technique can bring to their horse relationship
and riding skills.