Diana is the first of our Tölt.Club coaches who I have asked to do an introduction to herself. There is a professional biography on the website and on her own website of course where she shares a lot of resources freely, but for me it is Diana’s deep and abiding (possibly slightly obsessive?!?) passion that makes her amazing to me. It is what triggers my interest in people who have horses in their hearts.
Diana was back in the UK briefly this winter for a working Pupilage with Heather Moffat. Her diaries are great reading both for amusement and learning and I have shared one of her many amusing illustratons of her time there. Diana is very diminutive in stature and it amused me that the storm named after her was giving her so much trouble this winter.
As I hope you are beginning to see, we are truly blessed with an amazing community in person at Oakfield and in sharing that community online it is expanding to include other like minded people from the UK and around the world, a bonus I hadn’t anticipated.
Diana’s Icelandic horse, Svalur lives here in the UK on our farm, ridden and looked after by Diana’s mum Ruth as well as us. We are very thankful that both Diana and Ruth are happy for us to allow riders who need a mount when they are here to use him (Charlie’s girls have made good use of this facility for the last couple of years for training, competitions and riding out.)
Diana moved to Australia several years ago, somewhere not known for its gaited horses although there is a very new Icelandic Horse Society in Australia. There are about 240 purebred Icelandic horses in the whole of the country and most of those are under 4 years old.
Diana dives right in, as I really thought she would:
When I see a horse, I am drawn to her. When I am near a horse, her beauty is something I can feel not just see. She lends me some of her loveliness which goes right inside me while I am with her. It is healing and empowering. I knew this from very early childhood.
I asked to ride and I lived for that weekly lesson. It began as a pure thing and was nurtured by my early teachers.
As I grew older I took my BHS exams and lost sight of this beauty. I still enjoyed horses but was exploiting them to further my riding skills (which weren’t really improving anyhow!!)
In my 30s I learned a kinder way to ride after meeting Heather Moffett, and by lining up my ethics with what I was actually doing, have found ways to be with horses, and ride, which brings me deeper satisfaction.
Now I teach this to others which brings even more joy. My mission is to enable horse and person to work together joyfully in a way that preserves the beauty and spirit of the horse, and enriches the lives of both.
Throughout this journey, my Icelandic horse Svalur has taken care of the joy side of things, with the help of our ponies Jimbo and Peanuts, reminding me what it is really about, even when I was in the midst of BHS training, by giving me the wonderful experiences of carefree riding and just being together with a horse.
My expertise now comes from a base of obsessive studying, practising and experimenting, and learning a huge amount from my best teachers – which are the horses and the clients!
I teach the biomechanics of riding on my Equisimulator, because I believe that learning to ride in balance is one of the kindest things you can do for your horse.
I also created dressage tests based on the French system of classical dressage, and run an online competition with a special marking system which gives credit for riding beautifully and in harmony.
I created this because I could see that the system of dressage competitions and the methods of judging are responsible for the way a lot of people ride inadvertently damaging their horses. I decided to stop complaining and do something about it and this is my little thing. I also travel around teaching people on their own horses.