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A Confession But I’m Not Sorry


I did not train my horses for 10 months.

And that might sound weird for a professional horse trainer.

People assume that you train all day every day…

That you keep the momentum…

That it’s never a struggle to stay on track.

But you know what?

In practice, professional horse trainers are just human.

And nobody’s perfect, including me! (OK …especially me.)

Now by nature, I am an optimistic planner.

That’s why I always underestimate the time needed to complete things.

And I always underestimate the hurdles

that I have to face along the way to get where I want to be.

So let me share some of these hurdles with you and explain why I didn’t train my horses for 10 months – and why I’m not sorry:

Moving to Portugal

Last September 2017, we moved to Portugal with our five horses – Maestro, Romanesque, Prince Elmelund, Toronto, and El Blanco.

And in case you missed this blog and video series, here they are:

To make a long story short:

The moving was a happy occasion, but a total disruption of our normal routine. 

We had to sell our house, pack all our stuff, leave our country, then unpack in a new country.

So it took a while before we could get established into our new home.

Besides that, we moved to a place with no training facilities… 

That was a sort of hurdle, but there were more to come…

The Hurdles…

To take the hurdle of having no riding arena, we had two plans:

  1. To have an outdoor arena up and running asap.
  2. In the meantime, I figured out that I could train on the flat grass area behind the house.

Now, normally, the climate of Portugal is temperate…

And it was said that only in November to March, sometimes rainfall can occur…

However, this year, it had a period of the heaviest rain ever since 1936!

And it kept on raining until mid-April!

So this had two consequences:

  1. The machines could not prepare the land and build the riding arena because it was too muddy.
  2. And I could not train on the grassland because it was too slippery.

So John Lennon was right:

“Life is what’s happening to you when making other plans.”

Facing and dealing with setbacks is a part of life for all of us.

And sometimes when we think we’re ready to unleash on the world, the universe has other plans!

Therefore, I had to wait…

And practice patience…

Now, of course, we investigated alternatives to train in nearby indoor arenas.

But then Toronto got an abscess in both his front hooves, and he had to the go to the hospital for a few weeks.

The marvelous Dr. Maria João Oliveira and Melanie Santos, and the fabulous farriers Dr. Diogo Gabriel Macedo and Carlos Franco put all their heart and soul in getting him literally back on his feet – and they succeeded! 

Anyway, after taking all circumstances in consideration, we decided to give the horses a break this winter, and to switch priorities.

Seeing the ‘Good’ in the ‘Bad’…

You know, always something ‘good’ comes out of something ‘bad’.

At least, we can choose to find something good in our setbacks – and that was that we had time for other things:

Besides these benefits, the rain was the greatest gift to Portugal, because its nature really needed some water to recover after the deadly wildfires in 2017, which had catastrophic consequences and ravaged over 30,000 hectares of forest.

So overall, I’m not sorry about the rain and that we couldn’t train.

Because it also had another significant ‘by-product‘…

More Benefits:

Another benefit was that our ‘Relationship Bank Account‘ increased.

What does this mean? 

Well, it relates on how my horses value me and to the interactions between my horses and me:

  • These interactions will either ‘benefit‘ our relationship,
  • or it will ‘cost‘ me something,
  • or the effect will be ‘neutral‘ on our relationship.

Now, since every day, every few hours, I had an interaction moment with my horses in connection with either feeding, or grooming, or moving to another pasture, or they could cut the grass in our garden, and so on.

So in a way, I was their supplier of ‘gifts’ which made our relationship bank account very large and positive. 

Besides that, we have spent a lot of time hanging out, doing nothing, just being and acclimatizing, which was very fruitful on a mental level for both us humans and our horses.

And they had their funny 5 minutes every now and then:

So they kept themselves busy, so again, I’m not sorry that we couldn’t train for several months.

Nevertheless, I was very happy, that one day in May…

It’s On!

We could finally make a start with the construction of the riding arena!

Now, I documented the whole process – collecting pics and vids – because to me it was a fascinating process.

That’s because I saw many parallels with Straightness Training:

First, everything starts with a dream.

Secondly, to make a dream come true, it has to be converted into a plan.

So we started to create a plan together with the amazing architect Helena Machado Morais.

The whole arena had to be built up from scratch.

At first, a strong, solid, long-lasting fundament was created.

And this was done layer by layer, without rushing, just taking the time it takes.

Then, along the way, we had to adjust the theoretical plan to the practical circumstances, and change our approach – what’s new, nothing evolves in a straight line.

So we had some moments of delay, and had to practice patience again.

But it was worth it!

And it was a fascinating process to observe because of…


Now what impressed me most was that all parties – from the architect, to the constructors of the walls, the fence, the floor – worked in an ‘Ikigai’ way!

In Japanese culture, they say ‘Ikigai’ is the reason to jump out of bed each morning – it’s what makes you happy, keeps you motivated, and what brings fulfillment.

So all teams worked with a missionvocation, profession, and passion, and:

  1. They love what they’re doing,
  2. They are good at it,
  3. They do what the world needs, 
  4. And what they can be paid for.

And because they worked with those drives, all parties were very motivated, dedicated, and precise in their work – which resulted in true craftmanship and a piece of art.

And that’s another parallel with Straightness Training:

We also encourage our students to follow their bliss and to look for meaning and fulfillment in what they do daily, plus, to create their own masterpiece.

Construction of the Riding Arena

So the development of the riding arena had very similarities with Straightness Training.

At the start, it seemed like a huge project, but if you chunk the big elephant in bite-sized portions, eventually a great result can be accomplished.

And it was fascinating to see how something was built op from totally nothing, nada, niente, zero, scratch…

How little improvements add up

How small steps make a profound difference in the end…

How a great piece of art is composed out of small actions that are done with a high level of preciseness and eye for details!

Because every individual task was executed with such energy, drive, passion, and Best Aikido, which breathed and echoed the attitude that is needed in Straightness Training as well.

So I found it a fun and fascinating process to watch, because it reflects a sort of how we can experience ST.

Therefore, I shared some in-depth, but temporary stories about the riding arena recently on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, and on this blog you can find the ‘recap’ of the construction.   

However, I can totally understand, that not everybody is interested in this recap – then just skip the rest of this page 😉

But for those who are interested, here is an overview of the recap content, and just click the link to jump to a topic:

1. Preparation By The Horses –  2017

Now it all started with the question:

Where do we position the riding arena?

And we imagined that the perfect place for the outdoor was – what we called – ‘the grapevine’.

We named that area like that since it had no less than eight grape bushes 😉 .

And that piece of land was a sort of ‘unused’ area with no real purpose.

So we decided that the horses could eat the whole area to prepare it for construction:

And the ‘grasshoppers’ did a great job:

Here’s a sneak ‘before-after‘ peak on the outdoor – seen from our living room window:


And in this video you can see the ‘preparation phase’:

After the preparation, and after the rain was over mid April 2018, we could start building the riding arena in May.

2. Leveling the Floor – May 2018

Now the land was very slopey, therefore, they had to lower it on one side and had to raise the other side with the excavated sand.

So the rain appeared not to be the only obstacle…

The shifting of the sand caused a difference of hight of two meters!

So when creating the fundament for the riding arena, we had to adjust the theoretical plan to the practical circumstances.

It’s the same as in the ST Lab cycle:

  1. Think first
  2. Act later
  3. Check the results
  4. Change your approach
  5. Repeat until you get what you want:

So when checking the results team who created the floor we realized that their well-created fundament had to be reinforced with a serious stone wall to avoid that the sand would slip away – especially in case of heavy rain.

Now for a permanent wall of this size, we needed a permit of the municipality.

So we had to wait…

And practice patience again…

Then, in June we got the permission of the mayor to start building the wall.

And the amazing Mr. Jacinto Alexandre and his crew found the time to help us out!

3. Building The Rear-End Wall – June 2018

The walls at the rear-end were reinforced with a metal skeleton, and the base of this skeleton was also put in concrete.

So they dug out a trench to seat the wall in, which they then made solid with a layer of concrete.


The end result is also called a ‘footer’.

Now we call ‘groundwork’ the footings under Straightness Training – because, without a solid footer, nothing lasting can come up.

That’s because even 2mm of uneven setting is enough to cause cracks in the wall.

And it’s the same with ST!

Even 2 mm off track in groundwork is enough to cause cracks in longeing, work in hand, riding or ST at liberty.

  • Without a good lateral bending, forward down tendency and stepping under of the inside hind leg (LFS) on a small circle, we’ll never get a proper LFS on the bigger circle in longeing.
  • Without a nice yielding on the inside rein in groundwork, our horse won’t give you the bend, then we’ll never get our horse searching towards the outside rein in work in hand.
  • Without a proper preparation in groundwork, longeing and work in hand, chances are, that we’ll have to deal with too much imbalance in riding.
  • Of course, liberty is a great place to start, but when it comes to ST at liberty, we want to do the lateral movements, piaffe, and pirouette at liberty. Therefore it might take a lot more development time if we don’t shape the quality in groundwork first.

So we should not take groundwork for granted!

We should not take footings for granted!

That’s why groundwork matters most when it comes to Straightness Training.

Now back to the wall for the riding arena:

One day, a large cement truck entered the terrain to create the footers and walls of ‘reinforced concrete’.

So I thought it would be a nice ‘obstacle’ course for the horses to meet those truck!

Therefore, I invited them to check it out… but the grass appeared to be way more interesting 🙃:

4. Building The Front-End Wall – June 2018

The front-end wall was created:

  • Brick by brick
  • Row by row
  • All connected by layers of mortar
  • And finished with a concrete topping:

‍‍ ‍‍‍‍  
When the frond-end wall was under construction the horses were in our garden to cut the grass.

While doing that, they could have a look at the work in progress, but they were not really interested 😉
‍‍ ‍

Now the walls were not part of the origional plan, so our architect Helena Machado Morais had to adapt this plan to have a functional wall built.

And to have the front-end wall not standing like a massive, concrete, stoney thing in the arena, she designed a sort of double wall and gave it a wonderful natural look with stoney tiles.

And the laying of the tiles was a fascinating and absolutely impressive process!

It was an intensive and admirable monkish job performed by the professional team of Mr. Jacinto Felix Alexandre, and it required a lot of care, perseverance, patience and time.

But it was so worth it because the end result was really fabulous and a true piece of art.

And there’s the comparison with Straightness Training again:

It’s easy to have the rough outline of the exercises visible.

But the true polishing and artistic refinement of it is a monkish job, which requires a lot of care, perseverance, patience, and time.

And also in ST, it’s so worth it:

Once the walls were finished, it was time to build the fence:

5. Building The Fence – July 2018

Now because the rear-end is 2 meters high, we needed a fence, to avoid the risk of falling off, and to create more symmetry, we decided to have a fence on all four sides.

We chose pine wood, because this type of fence fits perfectly into the landscape.

The wood is impregnated so it is very sustainable wood, and with 50 year guarantee not to rot, the fence will last year after year without maintenance, so that’s perfect:


After the fence was completed, the final step could be made:

6. Integrating The Ebb & Flow System – July 2018

The system is a Dutch invention and creates an optimum moisture condition in the floor.

The terminology Ebb & Flow comes from the Dutch language  “Eb & Vloed“  which means low and high tide.

Now when it comes to the Netherlands, 75% of the country is below sea level, so this means that rainwater that falls has to be pumped into the sea not to get drowned.

And this is done through a system of canals and rivers:

Back in the old days, windmills were used to pump the water from the lower laying canals into the higher laying rivers and from these rivers into the sea.

Nowadays they use pumps to control the groundwater level, and the same technology is used in an Ebb & Flow system in the riding arena.

This system is mimicking the canal system with its pumps:

  • It consists of a series of trenches with drain pipes (‘canals’) which are installed under the sand cover.
  • The water is kept in the arena by sheets of heavy-duty plastic which have been laid before the pipes and sand are installed.
  • With a sump next to the arena the water level in the sand can be set, and the capillary effect of the sand will provide an even water level in the arena.

The combination of the drainage pipes – with the little holes to let the water through – and the capillary effect of the sand will provide an even water level in the arena:

  • If the floor is too wet because of heavy rain, excess water is extracted completely automatically through the drainage pipes.
  • If it is too dry, it is supplied with the necessary water, also automatically.

While nature delivers high and low tide to the beach, the Ebb & Flow system can regulate the water in the riding arena, creating continuous perfect moisture at every inch.

So the benefits of this system are:

  • Always an even riding surface with a constant basic elasticity
  • 100% availability of the arena in all weather: the arena will never be dusty and will never flood
  • The arena can always be ridden on also after heavy rain.
  • No sprinklers required from above.
  • Automatic and optimum moisture condition and water level from below.
  • Less water required to keep the surface in good condition.
  • No dust formation.
  • You can regulate the rigidity of the floor, making it harder or softer according to the needs.

So the ‘Ebb & Flow’ technology incorporates an underground drainage, which means the irrigation system is integrated in the floor itself, causing substantially lower water intakes.

7. Before/After Pictures

The development of the arena had very similarities with Straightness Training.

For example, it’s fascinating to see how something was built op from totally scratch, and that by just taking a series of small actions, eventually a big result is accomplished.

Now there’s a Zen story about a Buddhist monk who climbed a range of mountains and was asked how he did it:

He said, that he did it one step at a time.

And he strongly believed that the most important step was the next step:

“If you don’t step forward you will always be in the same spot…“ he said.

It’s the same with Straightness Training:

When we start learning something new, it’s easy to become daunted by everything we have to do to reach our final goal.

But we should not get overwhelmed by the bigger picture and just focus on the very next step we need to take.

The first thing is that we have to believe that we can do it.

Then, instead of trying to make big, quick changes in a short amount of time, we should just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change we want.

So those little improvements add up.

When we improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.

Not tomorrow, not the next day, it may take weeks or even months – as with this riding arena process – but eventually, a big gain is made.

8. Complete Overview Video

In this video, you can see a complete overview ‘from scratch to end-product‘ by adding up those little improvements:

9. Back on Track – August 2018

Finally, I could start training again!

And this is a video of the very first training session.

Now about this ‘training’, it was not really about ‘teaching’ or ‘optimizing’ quality, but an ‘observational’ training, to observe their body, mind, heart and soul and their opinion about the new working environment.

Because in Straightness Training we use the philosophy ‘Observe First, Produce Later’.

So at first, I let the horses ‘observe’ their new working environment by just walking around the fence, both to the left and right.

And when I sensed that they felt comfortable and at ease, I started to check their bodies:

I checked the LFS, and if I could reach the inside hind leg, and the outside hind leg.

And I asked for a bit of trot and canter to observe their gaits and movements.

While doing this, I spiraled a sort of through the arena, so that they could observe the whole outdoor.

And I didn’t put much contact on the line, to be able to check their curling around me from ‘the inside out’ (observing), and not making them turn from the ‘outside in’ (producing).

Now I trained all of my horses, but Marc only filmed some snippets of Romanesque and Prince Elmelund, and a little snapshot from El Blanco taken from inside the house, but hopefully, it gives you a sort of an impression of the first training: 

Now arriving here at the ‘end-result’ of this whole ‘riding arena construction’ journey, let’s go back to my ‘confession’:

10 Months Out of the Running

So for 10 months, my horses and I have not been ‘doing’ Straightness Training, we’ve experienced he house of just ‘being’ together.

Fortunately, they have a good basic condition because they are 24/7 out and can move through several areas.

But of course they lost some muscles, this means:

  • I will be back to square one…
  • There’s some work to do to get them back on track…
  • Basically, I will start from scratch…
  • First with groundwork and longeing…
  • And then, after a couple of weeks, with work in hand…
  • And finally riding.

Now I’m not the only one facing setbacks and challenges.

As long as I teach – for decades –  students of mine have been experiencing special personal circumstances and setbacks.

And all of us strive to have a sort of orderly and peaceful lives.

But we all experience different incidents in our lives that might turn our world upside down for a while – and the top 5 is:

  1. The death of a loved one – human or animal
  2. Untimely illnesses or getting injured
  3. Getting married or divorced
  4. Getting children or loss of a job
  5. Moving to a new home

Now, maybe you experienced special personal circumstances with your horse, family, job, study, or other areas in your life as well.

Perhaps you’re also back to square one for several reasons.

Or you too have to go back to basics because of what you’ve been through.

However, if you’re – just like me – ready to get back in the game, then this might be of interest to you:

11. Let’s STart From Scratch

Jump on over to my free training were you get a three-step process for implementing Straightness Training in your training sessions right now. Watch two videos and download your free eBook which will help you put the information into action right away:

32 thoughts on “A Confession But I’m Not Sorry

Comment author said

By Brenda Coryell Gordon on 3 August 2018 at 04:49

I really loved reading this. You’re So REAlL! We cam only do what time allows, and plans get waylayed. But the Dream keeps the spark alive until time finally allows things to fall into place. The funny 5 made me laugh out loud, Even better the horses eating to clear their new arena.


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:31

So true Brenda, the dream keeps the spark alive! ✨


Comment author said

By Tracy Walton on 3 August 2018 at 06:21

Great to hear of your arena progress. I dont believe you ‘need to confess’. Life throws things at us for a reason. It’s a time to slow or stop and reflect.

Look forward to reading future updates.


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:32

That’s so nice of you to say Tracy! ✨


Comment author said

By Patricia on 3 August 2018 at 08:21

What a confession! Now this is how you make lemonade from lemons! Thank you!


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:33

That’s a nice metaphor Patricia! Squeezed like a lemon hehe 😉


Comment author said

By Ingela on 3 August 2018 at 08:28

Thanx Marijke, I really needed this post. I’m on my way to Portugal myself so I know one thing or two, about delays and patience. I just have to wait it out, and I’ll be fine. Thx for sharing!


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:35

Congrats with moving to Portugal Ingela! And keep squeezing those ‘lemons’ life throws at you! Enjoy the lemonade! 😉


Comment author said

By Monique on 3 August 2018 at 09:18

Hoi Marijke, jij hebt het zelfde gedaan als ik 14 jaar terug. Jij naar Portugal ik naar Hongarije. Het is je paarden aan te zien, dat ze zich nog beter in hun vel voelen en zo puur zijn, dat ze alles wat ze lekker vinden en tegen komen eten. En ik denk dat ook jij meer rust in jezelf gevonden hebt, of ben je nog aan het landen, want mijn ervaring is dat het wel een paar jaar duurt voordat wij mensen ons echt op ons gemak voelen in een nieuw land, ook al gaat ons hart er sneller van kloppen en zegt ons gevoel dat ˝we thuis gekomen zijn˝.
Heel veel succes en geniet ervan! Portugel, een prachtig land, kom er een keer per twee jaar en de aard van de mensen daar is zo vergelijkbaar met de mensen hier.
Bedankt voor het delen van je heerlijke ervaringen!


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:38

Hey Monique, bedankt voor het delen van je verhaal! En inderdaad, ze zeggen dat je in ieder geval vier seizoenen moet meemaken eer je echt in een nieuwe routine gaat komen. Maar wat je zegt, het zal nog wel wat langer duren in een ander land. Enfin, ‘variety is the spice of life’ 😉


Comment author said

By Joanna on 3 August 2018 at 09:59

I’m having a lot of obstacles with my two horses last two years ,mainly due to ( very supraising in Germany and Switzerland ) unprofessional and not really dedicated trainers.Eventualy I sold one and was just about to move home( Poland) then a big fire had happened .
However maybe tommorrow my injured horse will be transport to Poland and I’m so worry that my new trainer can ride my M level horse .He is very sensitive and not all professional can ride him.
I’m very curious what you are doing because this something new for me . I mean everyday dressage training …
All the best.Funny that I’m in Portugal right now)


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:42

That’s impressive what you’ve been through Joanna, and I hope things will turn around for you in Poland for the better now. For now, enjoy your stay in Portugal! ✨


Comment author said

By Luna Barlian on 3 August 2018 at 10:24

Great article! I haven’t been able to train my horse for the last 7 months either because I was working in Iceland and haven’t been to my home in Germany once 😀 I’m very exited to see you starting over too


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:43

Hey Luna, I hope you had a great time in Iceland! 🙂 ✨Good luck with your reSTart!


Comment author said

By Cécile on 3 August 2018 at 11:35

Hallo Marijke, thank you for your very interesting post. Unfortunately, I can’t start the straightness training at the moment, there are still some obstacles. But your article encourages me a lot! All the best for you and your magnificent horses!


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:44

No problem Cécile, I believe that everything you need will come to you at the right time. So for now, enjoy the articles, and good luck with your challenges! ✨


Comment author said

By Irene Ockermüller on 3 August 2018 at 13:04

Thank you so much for this article. I was facing the same troubles when I moved to Spain 2016. No stables, no riding facilities. It took more time than expected and my horses went in bad condition, we were also facing health problems. It was very frustrating. Now we are on our way back and at last I found that I learn so much bringing my horses back. How different it is to starting a young horse. On this way, the concept of ST helps me a lot! Thank you again and all the best for you!


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:46

Glad to read that things are getting back on track for you and your horses Irene! And so nice that you pass on all the experiences and wisdom you gained from your other horses to this young horse, and glad to hear ST is of benefit too, well done! ✨


Comment author said

By Anke Johnson on 3 August 2018 at 14:23

Beautiful, thank you so much for sharing this! I know it means so much to so many. Sometimes, we also have to take a break from “doing” to just “being” because we need to regroup and find out center, purpose and passion again because of what life has taught and brought us…and all too often during those times people may feel obligated to keep “doing” because it’s what we’re supposed to do, right?!?! But with your story you’ve maybe opened the door and given people “permission” to pause their journey of “doing” and go back to “being” so that they can come back strong and with more layers to offer themselves and their horses! Kudos to you Marijke, for allowing the “being” and sharing your story! I’m excited to be with you on your journey forward:)


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:52

So true Anke that it’s important not to always be a ‘human’ doing but return to a ‘human being’ every now and then! 😉 Work hard, play hard!✨


Comment author said

By Wilma Grobben on 3 August 2018 at 14:57

Perfect timing posting this article, Marijke.
We moved to France 9 years ago with 3 horses.
Now we have a herd of 6, it is very easy to start collecting if there is enough land.
I started your Mastery Entry Course last year but because of unusual wet winter and now hot summer, it faded to the back ground.
By reading your article, I feel very motivated to start all over again.
Thank you for this new boost of energy


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:53

High five to that Wilma! ✨


Comment author said

By Danae Bolton on 3 August 2018 at 15:02

Hi Marijke

I just wanted to say I just love your positive approach to everything, it is so refreshing. Thank you for your inspiring ST emails and videos. They are really helping to keep me on track as I am unable to train with my GB trainers at present. Your tips are proving invaluable as they are keeping me focused, motivated and enjoying finding ways of training and staying in communication with my lovely horse.

I look forward to hearing about your way forward with all the changes and challenges.


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:56

That’s great to hear Danae, and well done in finding the balance between focus, training and keeping a good communication with your lovely horse, well done! 🙂 ✨


Comment author said

By Erica Schwing on 3 August 2018 at 15:03

Hi Marijke, thanks for your openness 🙂 yes, life is full of obstacles…and we have to make the best out of it….My foot injury, some other issues….but you are right, other doors open, new frienships develop, I am able to help another Mastery Entry course student with her horse, improve my home, study on my knowledge of the French language, and watching ST video’s 🙂 😉 while practising patience 😉 and now being patience with the heat….very nice blog and inspiring as always…..


Comment author said

By Marijke de Jong on 3 August 2018 at 18:58

Hey Erica! So great that you contribute to the development of other students as well, and I hope your foot heals so you can continue your nice work with your lovely horse Merlin! 🙂 ✨


Comment author said

By Kathy Sierra on 4 August 2018 at 02:11

I could have written almost the same post — we moved 1000 miles with ten horses to an island, and though it has shelters and hay barns, it was a cow farm, no horses. No arena, and no horse-appropriate fencing. And everything takes ten times longer than I would have imagined. We have areas that are working well enough as a grass arena, so there is not quite so much immediate pressure to build one, but I’m going to be VERY grateful that you did this documentation of your arena, because that is on the horizon for me the coming year. But yeah, setting up a new horse property is a waaaaaay bigger deal than I expected, and I really thought I was prepared. Hahaha 😉 And I’m still trying to find where I packed everything. But the (mostly unworked) horses are quite happy to just be enjoying the nature, and as you said, since they are right outside, we still get to hang out with them. Thanks for this extensive series you’re doing on the arena. It’s REALLY hard to find good info on this. It will be the second arena for us, but the first — we had built ten year’s ago in our old farm — was done completely by professionals. This one, we’re hoping to do as much of it as we can on our own. I learned the hard way last time though… never ever skimp on the quality of the ‘base’. The rest is easy/fixable.


Comment author said

By Crystal on 4 August 2018 at 07:09

So fascinating to see the construction of your new arena – and the useful lessons you’ve pulled out of the process and shared with us all! I’ve also ended up with a fair bit of enforced horsey down time over the last few years, with my mare being injured last summer, and such a wet year before that that, like for you, it was just too wet to do much :/ But this winter has been mild and dry and Katie is going better than ever – and we’re both feeling the benefits of the time I spent working on my own posture and balance through tai chi when I couldn’t be riding! I’m sadly not in a position to be able to join your academy (yet!!) but gain great value from the articles and posts on your blog 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration – and information – you so generously share. I’m looking forward to the next installments of arena building!


Comment author said

By Mirella Placidi on 4 August 2018 at 23:49

Your Horses look fine and healthy running up and down that bank will help them in keeping balanced and they won’t mind the time to chill We have had our challenges in the UK as your are prob aware the weather had been a nightmare the past year continuous rain and then continuous sun – ground went from mud to rock – not enough hay has been cut so we will all be struggling later on in the year – but recently a bit of rain has fallen the ground conditions are now perfect flies are horrendous ! But at least we training outside again was a possibility and today everything was looking just great with a perfect shoulder in and a really good try at Renvers and almost a piaffe at liberty the pain of the past year just dissipated – everything felt right with world until later when I went to check on horses and one of the ponies is limping I think it’s an abscess !! Where there are horses there are challenges and problems I hope your arena turns out perfect and good luck with your reSTart journey Love Mirella x


Comment author said

By tina on 5 August 2018 at 17:38

Boss. I love in the deepest sense of the word your journey. The way you sinthetyse the whole happening is on a higher level, and on the same time so simple. Enjoy the journey and thanks a lot for sharing the way you do. As, from you, I LEARN. And this is awesome. This is tremendously rock.


Comment author said

By Tracy on 21 August 2018 at 15:50

Loved reading this. I’m still reeling from the passing of my beautiful mum and just feeling empty and flat – thought riding would Help but I’ve just lost my motivation – I have been questioning my lack of desire to ride – then I remember a friend said to me – take the time it takes to heal – then I saw your blog of life changing incidents- I now feel ok to let this pass and get back to basics when I m ready. Despite feeling bad my boy will lose muscle I know that HE is enjoying his unexpected holiday


Comment author said

By Ann on 12 October 2018 at 12:24

Waw that’s so nice! A beautiful place with lot’s of space for your horses! I also would like to do ST, for the moment I am riding an Icelandic horse and I bought my first horse a Rocky Mountain horse (always been my dream to own a horse, but she is still so young and in December she will go to a field with other youngsters, but of course I am planning on doing low key walks, halter training etc… and do low key short exercises) I am already searching for nice things I can do with her and I think this will be great for her and me. Just a question from what age can they start ST?


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