Dressage Training with Goncalo Carvalho in Portugal Jan 2016
I drove 4 days across England, France, Spain and Portugal to train with and observe one of the top riders on todays World Competition Circuit.
I think my leaving post says it all……….
…………………With reluctance, we have begun our long journey home. Although the truck is lighter as supplies have diminished, it’s packed with far more important cargo, knowledge.
I came to Portugal to expand my riding and training not really knowing what that would entail, maybe I could come home understanding more about the competition level above us and check that the training I was teaching and riding was correct. This world is full of people that can make you doubt yourself that pounce on every bad result or mistake we make. Goncalo has taught me something very important in my riding and something that I will also carry into my everyday life. Never be afraid of letting your horse make mistakes in his training as that is how he learns, that’s how we learn too. That’s how we all become better!
I’m not driving home desperate to compete or to show off my new skills, I’m driving home with far more acceptance of who I am, what I know and where I’m heading. I have grown closer to my horses and them to me and the need to go out and win win win has faded behind my desire to train better and clearer with my horses and my riders, winning will happen all on its own then.
I am confident in what I have to share with all and I’m confident to change some of the techniques that I have depended on in my coaching for the last few years. Dressage can be ridden in different ways to achieve competition results and it’s about believing in what you are doing. I want my horses to smile when I ride them, feel self confident in what they do and know just how much I appreciate their willingness to work with me.
If Preston could read Facebook, I would like to let him know how lucky I feel to be his dancing partner and that I forgive him for being really difficult as a baby. I am totally astonished at his thirst to learn, understand and most of all try for me. Everyday he smiled to see me and never complained when I got his saddle out. Goncalo has told me so many times that it’s not normal at all for a horse to progress so fast in such a short time. He’s learnt the basics of a pirouette, single flying changes, 4 tempi, 3 tempi, 2 tempi and can do 4 1 time changes. He’s working well in his journey to a good piaffe and most of all learnt to change his balance.
Sueste has had the hardest cliff to climb as he has become balanced light and established in a total new way of going and at 17 years old that’s impressive. We can go home now and add movements back to his new balance all ready for him to be introduced to a new rider as he will sadly be sold this year to someone really lucky.
I want to say a huge thank you to Gonçalo Carvalho Conchinhas for illuminating the route to Grand Prix and allowing me to experience his world and to his amazing Mother, Father and beautiful wife Carmen Rito for make me feel part of their family. It must be hard at times to have someone watching, invading and hogging the facilities but never once was this obvious.
I have made lots of new friends at Quinta da Marina, riders, grooms, instructors…….but the most important friend I have gained is Carolina Martins, thank you for my Portuguese lessons and all your help, you are an amazing person.
I was about to write…..the last 5 weeks has been one of the most important periods of my life to date, but then I sat and tried to think of something that betters this and there just isn’t, so this is the most important!
Nigel Lowe (Sponsor), you are amazing, and I’m going to let everyone know that for a long time to come.