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What Olympians Know That Maybe You Don't

    Like many professional trainers, I've spent a fair amount of time during my career both listening from chairs and taking direct instruction in the saddle with Olympic level clinicians. I've also been blessed to have friends that compete at this iconic level in other sports such as rowing and swimming. My time spent with these bright stars of international sport has always been highly educational and I have always been fascinated by how they manage to achieve their heady levels of success.   Whatever the sport, the answers are similar. I thought it might be helpful to share what I've learned here in my blog, as amazingly the attributes needed to achieve your goals are surprisingly simple to master once you have the keys. 1. Accept Mistakes This may be a bit harder for some folks than others. The ability to accept mistakes is hard for those that are perfectionists at heart. In my clinic giving role I have seen many riders that exhibit the signature of being over-achievers
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When Your New Horse Goes Wrong

The arrival of your newly acquired horse is a special moment that you will never forget. How smoothly things go after your horse steps off the trailer is in large part up to you.                                       Akiko and Gambol's Genevieve It's typical for horses that have not had much exposure off the farm where they were born to exhibit much anxiety when they find themselves in the hands of new people at a strange and foreign location with different horses in the vicinity. Introducing a horse to anything new should be done slowly and with every effort to take things step by step so as not to heighten anxiety, and done in such a manner that encourages trust. Horses do not do bad things with intent, they do not plot and plan to be difficult. They are simply looking for guidance as to what they are supposed to do and seek ways to feel safe. Many people consider themselves more 'experienced' in training horses than they truly are when it comes to understanding the e

The Most Useless Document Right Now ~ A Passport

As we push through into month 9 of no international clinic giving or even national clinic giving, and the welcome mat for US visitors across the world is now thrown down by only about 3 countries, it is ironic that my hubbie and I renewed passports at the beginning of the year and signed up for expedited airport and global travel access.   As a result of the travel restrictions we were forced to postpone our entire 2020 clinic season.  Frankly, we miss the adventures abroad like shown in the video above, and the fun and education of meeting new and familiar faces both giving instruction and taking it. It's truly weird at this point to not have seen students in person, and to have to rely solely on Apps to keep us connected to the ongoing training of our riders. My husband Paul and myself are very grateful for the hosts that have simply postponed and not cancelled the clinics booked. Meantime, all our remote training session fees are donated to charity, as we do our little bit to he

A Horse to Show and No Place To Go!

The woes of Covid competition cancellations have many trainers scratching their heads and pondering their next move. A carefully mapped out strategy for peak performance of horse and rider compassed by the calendar into years ahead by advanced level riders, is in disarray as event organizers scratch their plans to host shows at the last minute. There isn't much to be done about having a horse to show and no place to go. Unrecognized competitions may be useful for introductions to the show scene for young horses or neophyte riding students and with the limits in place governed by the CDC guidelines the in/out routine can be a boon ( less stress as less horses and riders on the grounds), but this truck in routine and lack of spectators can also be a hindrance to engaging a horse and rider in the real fun and tension of a regular event. For the professional riders, a show without points is a show with no point at all.  As a dressage clinician/competitor/trainer and internatio

The On Off Travel Woes Between The USA and The EU

British International Grand Prix Duo Paul & Nikki Alvin-Smith Making decisions on postponing clinics and constantly searching, sometimes finding and being able to book flights when you work as an international clinician (or even a national one), isn't easy in these pandemic times. Here in New York, our wonderful Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New Yorkers in general, have done a brilliant job of pulling the state out of the epicenter status of Covid19 by complying with restrictions and stay at home orders, social distancing, wearing masks and taking tests. Most of the rest of the nation's politicians showed a complete lack of foresight when there was a clear playbook for them to follow. I am so very proud of the community of New Yorkers, Upstate and Down - doing what seemed an impossible task and showing discipline over so many months. Lots of people suffered immeasurable losses, both of loved ones and financial turmoil. Many continue and will continue to suffer. That i

Life Re-imagined? Yes. Go For It...

In Cuomo's daily press briefings he pushes the notion of the 'new normal' being life re-imagined. For us here at Willowview Hill Farm, that's something we have been working toward for a number of years now. Re-invention happens in life. It's all part of our journey. Hayfields at Willowview Hill Farm, Stamford NY. Our rather well-educated eldest son has always expressed that it is important to have a 5 year and 10 year plan in place. For businesses that can mean an exit strategy, for individuals it can mean easing into retirement or finding time to follow a passion that you've always held close to your heart but always been too busy with family life and obligations to others to follow. I count myself as extremely blessed to have arrived at a 'new normal' partly by design, partly by hardship and partly by accident, over the past 30 years.  My advice is to embrace change and move forward and adapt with good heart. Re-imagining is hard work but