When I started to ride in the 70s everything was very different from today. My parents had no interest in horses and I was left to my own devices. I would spend all day in the stables with a pot of mashed potatoes and my mother’s home-made meatballs to keep me going. I was only about 9 or 10 years old at that time. I recall the stable was owned by a man called ‘Ahlstedt” and situated just outside Karlstad in Sweden. He was selling and buying all sorts of horses and more. I remember there were even wild animals from the circus in the stables! The horses were practically wild and I had to break them in myself. (that is where my stubborness started) Some of them were mostly terrifying, baring their teeth and trying to kick me when I was in the box. These were hard days but I learned how to understand the horses and how to make them feel good around me. I felt I had a connection with them despite my age and lack of training. I always rode bareback and without any concerns for safety. Thank goodness my parents had no interest in horses and didn’t worry about the risks I was taking at such a young age.
In those days, my dreams of horses and success revolved around reading about it. I read hundreds of books about becoming a riding star, as having my own pony was a dream.
Perhaps my childhood experience made me who I am today? I am still totally mad about horses. My whole life has been centred on horses and here we are…. And who could believe in that time, that myself and my business partner Lina would be writing and selling equestrian books all around the world. Not me.
Parents of today, especially in northern European countries where I come from, are much more supporting than my parents. For good and for bad. The children of today (in my opinion) lose their creativity because their parents are fussing around them all the time. Just being together with the pony and playing and exploring how to communicate is important for the child to be a good horseman or horsewoman. Riding is about horsemanship, not only knowing how to ride. And in my opinion I think everyone who is going to be a good horse men should learn to educate a horse from young age.
In our society it’s a lot about competing and showing off. Many pony riders are nowadays a ”member” of a full team comprising of mum and dad, trainers, vets, ferriers, osteopaths and even masseuse. The kids have perfect outfits and horse equipment. Riding has more or less just become a way to have success in the arenas. Sometimes just for their parents to enjoy.
Of course, I respect that, and I have been a “pony-mum” too, with two daughters riding and competing, Actually, on reflection, I think that was the best time of my life! But both my girls gave up riding after school. In my case i think I was caring too much, giving my kids the encouragement I didn’t get myself.
Riding must be about joy and pleasure from an early age for both horse and rider.
Everyones needs variety, creativity and playfulness to stay happy and motivated. That is what we are trying to communicate in our books.