Morven's experience on the Supervision Scheme
As a keen rider and trainee instructor I wanted to be a working pupil at Overdale to improve my riding and teaching, and to learn more about RWYM.
During my three weeks with Karin and the Overdale team I had a great time. I was lucky enough to sit in on some of the Mary Wanless clinics, and I got to meet lots of interesting riders and horses.
Karin made me feel so welcome, at home and on the yard. The workload was very manageable and the horses were all easy to do. Other visiting instructors meant I got to learn lots about RWYM techniques, and it was great experience watching the team of professionals who visit Overdale including horse massage therapists, saddle fitters and holistic therapists.
My time at Overdale was great fun and a wonderful learning experience. It has made me look at riding from a new angle I will definitely be back again.
Ellie's experience on the Supervision Scheme
I originally heard about Overdale through my riding instructor, who is an accredited RWYM coach. As I was planning on potentially pursuing a degree in Veterinary Medicine after college, I was looking to rack up a couple of weeks of work experience - naturally, some of these had to be spent on a yard. Therefore, Overdale offered the perfect opportunity to gain some experience but also focus a little more on my riding and awareness of stable management (I was about to buy my first horse at the time).
Due to the dates of my school terms, I was only able to spend three weeks at Overdale over the Easter holidays, yet the experience was so enjoyable and educational that I've arranged to return for a further four weeks next summer, and it's something that I look forward to greatly.
The atmosphere on the yard is just brilliant. Calm and laid-back, but in spite of this everything is run efficiently. I think I can safely say that there were a couple of times I felt a little out of my depth simply due to my relative lack of previous experience in some areas, but Karin was incredibly encouraging (and I think I have to commend her for her patience with me on a few occasions), and a pleasure to work for.
During my time at Overdale I was fortunate enough to be able to both sit in on and participate in several of the lessons on a course run by Mary. Observing such a wide variety of lessons, and linking the advice that was being given to what I could see happening in the horse and rider, really helped me to become more aware of just how much the most minute of things can affect the way in which our horses go, and to look at the finest of details both in my own riding and when observing others to ascertain what's going right, where, and vice versa. It also really illuminated the fact that no matter what level a rider might be at, ultimately we can all suffer from the same issues. Meeting everyone who attended the course and sharing in the video sessions in the afternoon was also incredibly enjoyable as the entire atmosphere was just so positive and sociable.
In terms of my own riding, Karin managed to squeeze as many lessons as possible into a rather hectic timetable, from which I can safely say I have benefited greatly. The effects in the lessons were immediate, focussing primarily on the importance of breathing regularly and in the correct way - from there, everything else steadily unlocked. Outside of lessons, even though I wasn't at Overdale with my own horse, I had the opportunity to ride daily on one of the school horses, enabling me to steadily work out how to do things without anyone on the ground to give pointers. I was also treated to several Feldenkrais sessions, highlighting just how wonky our bodies are - again, the awareness of the asymmetry allows for it to be worked on, and it's negative effects limited.
I stayed with Karin and Mary whilst I was there, and only ever felt welcome. The house is just a five minute walk from the yard, and the early spring mornings collecting Golly and Astro from the field along the way were just perfect. Karin and Mary are also excellent cooks so I felt thoroughly spoilt throughout my stay!
The three weeks passed far too quickly for my liking, and I was incredibly reluctant to come home to the promise of revision and AS Levels. However, I left with a far greater confidence and skills in so many areas than I arrived with, and cannot wait to return next summer - this time with my own horse. I really can't thank Karin or Mary enough for having me and for such an amazing experience.
Anna's experience on the Supervision Scheme
During my work placement, I worked for five months for Karin at Overdale. My stay was a time of great pleasure and contentment, and altogether it proved to be both a professional and personal enrichment. I especially enjoyed the exceedingly pleasant atmosphere around the yard.
Karin is a great RWYM teacher and very good at working with horses and people. The work she is doing with horses is breathtaking and I have learnt so much. She showed me how to think 'out of the box' and gave me new horizons to aim for in my riding. The individual encouragement at Overdale is very positive and I got many different opportunities for my personal development as there were so many different equestrian people coming and going.
I experienced new, exciting and fascinating impressions and I enjoyed living in the familial atmosphere. I would definetely want to work at Overdale again should the opportunity arise.
Sophie's experience on the Supervision Scheme
Before I arrived at Overdale I had been on several ridden courses and a couple of basic teacher trainings. I was working full time as a pharmacist and fitting in riding around this. Working with horses full time was something I had always wanted to do but never had the chance, so when I got a new job I was lucky enough to negotiate a career break into my contract. I have owned horses prior to being introduced to RWYM, however over the last few years I have ridden a number of friends' horses and had horses on loan. In the past I had always ridden a school horse at Overdale, however having recently purchased my own horse this was my first opportunity to ride her at Overdale.
I wanted time to focus on bonding with my new horse, developing my riding skills, and to begin to start teaching. I have always felt that the biggest barrier to my riding and learning has been mental and emotional rather than the physical organization of my body. For a long time I have found it difficult to find an appropriate level of focus, particularly when I am in a lesson environment which has really put a limit on my learning.
My time at Overdale began with a four-day ridden course as this seemed like a good way to get the ball rolling. The first thing I noticed was that I was not physically fit enough to do what I wanted my body to do, although this improved over a period of time. When I first arrived the horses were still in at night so our daily routine involved mucking out two or three horses each, however it wasn't long before they were out day and night so the yard work wasn't too strenuous.
I had frequent lessons with Karin, but also had plenty of opportunity to ride on my own and figure out how things worked by myself. I felt like a child in a sweet shop, being able to choose which horse I wanted to ride each day. I was able to practice a range of different skills on different horses depending on what I wanted to do and how tired my muscles were.
During the mounted courses I was able to watch the lessons and gained a lot of insight from watching a wide range of people, from the accredited coaches to people new to the RWYM approach. One of the most interesting things I discovered was that most of the people were still working on the same issues, it was just that the longer they had been in the network the more refined and subtle the fix.
Due to my lack of teaching experience and confidence when I first arrived, I spent a lot of time standing in the middle of the arena whilst Karin was teaching. This enabled me to develop my confidence and check what I thought I was seeing was correct. I then began by teaching some of the kids who help out at the stables, and gradually progressed to teaching paid lessons, including many of the people I had watched Karin teach. After a couple of months I decided to be brave and have a go at co-teaching on one of Mary's courses. This was a very interesting but also terrifying experience; I learnt a lot of new metaphors and tools to use in my teaching as well as a good overview of the basics.
One of the most interesting parts of co-teaching was listening to Mary, Karin and Lynda or Denise discussing various topics relating to RWYM and their thoughts on the subject on an evening at dinner. Mary kindly allowed me unlimited access to her library, with such a wide range of books covering almost every imaginable aspect of learning and horse training.
Whilst working at Overdale I also came across a range of other professionals working within the equine industry. I was able to benefit from experienced saddle fitters, farriers and body workers looking at my own horse and also observe them assessing and treating other horses. I also benefited from regular Feldenkrais sessions with Karin, which enabled me to develop power in my body from a deeper level and improved by breathing considerably.
Some highlights of my stay were finding my boards on Heather in a really clear way, getting Astro to work in an outline just by taking my breathing to a deeper level within me, Lucinda Green coming for a lesson and saying to me "your arrowheads are amazing" (thigh/knee angles). I also managed to persuade my boyfriend (who hasn't ridden before) to have a sit on Astro - he now has a little more empathy with me when I ride, however much to my annoyance he's one of those people who naturally bears down and rides well!
By the time I left, the biggest changes in me were mental as well as physical. I think I am now able to cope much better with a wider range of instructors, as was evident from the recent teacher training - I am now more teachable, gaining scores of eight and nine for teachability. Physically I am now more able to access strength from within my body and use it in a more appropriate way (without getting into seize-up or becoming brittle), I am also more confident in my abilities both as a rider and a teacher and have a much clearer idea of the path I want to follow. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone.
Caroline's experience on the Supervision Scheme
My experience as a working pupil was fantastic. I enjoyed every second of it. It is such a wonderful environment up at Overdale - everything is very calm and serene and the horses are superb.
It is also great fun and very enjoyable working for Karin as she likes to have a laugh and a chat. She is also incredibly fair and very considerate. I don't know what it is like in winter, but in summer the yard work is very light, which leaves plenty of time to focus on your riding!
Both Karin and Mary make you feel very involved with the running of Overdale and the clinics, so you feel very welcome and I didn't feel like an outsider at all. I had some amazing moments being taught by both Karin and Mary. I learned so much it was incredible.
It was also wonderful being able to watch some 'big names' being taught by Mary as well, as this is something one generally doesn't have access to when only visiting for clinics.
All in all, it was an amazing experience in every way and I only came home because I missed my dog and my husband! I constantly beg Karin to have me back again to cover the incumbent working pupil's holiday periods!
If anyone would like any advice etc. about a potential working pupil stint at Overdale, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org