GO SLOW TO GO FAST PROJECT – reflections on finding own path in the equestrian industry

Photo: Teaching Mairi on Gilly and Caitlin (check her page: Fireblade Equestrian) in-hand with Nugget. Working out how to achieve repetitive quarters of a circle on a 10/15 and 20m circles without losing bend and rhythm. Photo: www.cdphotos.co.uk

There was a time I was angry with the sport for glorifying the kind of riding that I didn’t want to teach. You might say I didn’t need to be involved, didn’t need to be teaching any riders who wanted to compete.

The catch was, the competition riding was all I knew. Having spent ten years surrounded by riders whose predominant goals were to jump bigger and higher regardless the quality of the basic education, train harder and harder and bring home the winnings, I thought theirs were my goals too.

Things changed in my twenties, I learnt more about how horses learn, how riders learn, how a muscle might need thousands repetitions of one movement for it to even become a superficial habit not to mention a reflex. For it to turn into a reflex or a subconscious reaction? You need years of focused practice (not just hours of riding) for that.

How mental and physical training are both equally important. Many horses struggle with a simple task of a walk, trot and canter on a long rein without becoming inverted in the posture, crooked, tense in the back, uncooperative or plain dangerous through lack of control. I learnt this means that the foundations of mental and physical comfort and understanding of training are missing.

It was out of these experiences and a desire to teach good foundations that The Aspire Academy was born and I’ve been finding my ways to shape the job accordingly ever since but have never quite settled on the idea of quitting the involvement in the competition realm. In fact, I found the grassroots levels of the sport most satisfying and rewarding to be involved in.

There are many things I have always loved about it: the athletic pursuit, the idea of bettering and testing oneself one step at a time, the training process of both the horse and the rider, the motivational kick you get when you know the preparation time scale, the road trip adventures, seeing new places and new venues, watching the riders I teach out of training environment, catching ideas of what next to work on.


I wanted to blog about various training related concepts hence the Aspire blog was born too and at some point in 2015/2016 when I was posting regularly, this little blog became reasonably popular. I started receiving suggestions of cooperations, adverts and companies asking for product reviews. At the same time, I also started receiving many more emails with questions from the readers.

Majority of the questions I could classify as “could you give me a quick fix to…”

Imperfect moments happen all the time. I like them. They are part of learning. Part of allowing horse’s brain to learn. Gemma could have irritated Ozzy’s mouth there by moving the bit and “making him stay round” in this first rein-back attempt. Or I could never post this photo anywhere now that he goes back with a relaxed neck and back most of the time. But I think it’s good to see these kind of moments too. (I am helping there on the ground so Ozzy can connect his knowledge of going back to touch on the point of shoulder with Gemma’s aids from the saddle). Photo by Christine Dunnington but altered on Instagram. 

In my day-to-day teaching this pursuit of a quick solution is less common because the riders interested in my way of training will have generally be briefed into the Academy work prior the commitment to longer term lessons.

With over 20 riders in regular training, an 8 week old puppy arriving in my life in spring 2016 and needing constant attention, time becoming sparser than ever and an overwhelming feeling that nobody wanted to read about it taking several months of regular, focused practice for each training task to have a chance to feel somewhat confirmed, I blogged less and less until this space became very quiet indeed.

This is about to change 🙂

Post lesson chat: Kelly with Mojo and Mairi with Gilly. Photo: www.cdphotos.co.uk 

Posts planned schedule: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays.

My reflections on finding the way in the industry will form one of the series planned. I’d like to explore here different coaching qualifications, different training systems, training values and how to marry it all together to create a career/job/life path that feels fulfilling and long lasting. Or at least, how I am trying to do so.

I hope it brings inspiration and a guidance for those instructors-to-be or slightly lost- for-purpose- coaches out there 🙂

On this note, if you are an instructor/coach/trainer who focuses on a thorough rider and/or horse education, mainly without the use of gadgets that shape horse’s posture, we would love to hear from you for another project in the pipeline…

Email  Wiola at aspire@outlook.com with a title: “Go slow to go fast project”

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