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You Must Do the Very Thing You Think You Cannot Do

“You must do the very thing you think you cannot do”

Eleanore Rosevelt


As a teenager, I once ran into my old kindergarten teacher who had a few entertaining stories for me regarding my early years with her! She said there was a stage in the beginning where she would ask the entire class of 3-4 years olds to stand-up. Everyone would stand, except me who would sit. She would then request the entire class to sit and I would stand with a big grin on my face! Always insisting on doing exactly what I was told I could not do!


Now although she told me this story with a smile on her face, I am quite sure at the time that that little blonde curly haired, blue eyed 3 year old girl with such a strong personality did not bring her a smile at the time! Therefore I am still a little embarrassed to tell this story. (I apologise to you again now from Brasil!) However I wanted to share with you my realisation that this personality just doesn’t seem to have softened so much in the 22 years since. 


For example, when I was told it was not possible to make money as a professional rider in Australia, I quit my very good real estate job and became a professional rider! Makes sense right???


I was then told its not possible to be a rider in Europe when I have no money, evidently I had to go do that also.


Now I am told (not by vets! Only other, always well-intentioned people) I need to give up on TC Merry Jest, take ‘my place’ as a 1.40m rider in Europe and be happy with that. Jumping the big tracks takes too much money! 


“Don’t bother Amy, he is a really great horse but too expensive for you to keep sound!”


“Amy, your life in Europe was so nice as a rider why struggle in Brasil for this horse?”


“Amy what if you never get him going, you could be wasting your time here?”


“Even if he does come sound how will you ever afford to take him to Europe or enter the big shows?”


Three guesses what these pieces of advice are doing to my motivation to jump this horse!! The problem is, from the first day I jumped this horse I could not believe such a horse was just sitting here waiting for me- I was just too lucky! Now I cannot possibly let go of such an opportunity!


“Any coward can fight a battle when he is sure of winning …” George Eliot


There are times (like lately) I really wonder if this personality of mine is an asset or a great hindrance. If I were a little more ‘normal’ maybe I could be living an easier simpler life instead of always trying to do more? Maybe I need to learn to be easier pleased with what I have achieved, learn to ‘take my place’ in life instead of always challenging it?


I don’t know, I am 25 and yet to have all the answers unfortunately. 


There is just something inside me that won’t give up on this one and I think my greatest fear would have to be looking back and regretting I did not do everything I could. So I do not say these things above that I have done to ‘big-note’ myself as it’s really nothing at all. Yet, I say it as I promised- my blogs would always be honest and open (although a little unorthodox), so I want to share with you where my experience and where my head has been at lately.


TC Merry Jest, still feeling 4yo, playing with Nikola in the fields

TC Merry Jest, still feeling 4yo, playing with Nikola in the fields


In case you could not tell from this introduction, Merry is not yet completely sound. Our original analysis of the stifle joint was incorrect. Upon blocking all joint and nerves in the leg, the horse is still not right. Which is at this stage not such bad news, he has very good clean legs and x-rays. He was also fantastically sound for out first show and then after the training day he slipped and something is now not right. 


The team of vets is now extending beyond Brasil (where he already has a fantastic vet, who knows him well) to a very respected Olympic vet in Europe I knew from my time over there, who has kindly offered his time and advice, so we are feeling positive the issue should be solved soon. The horse has definitely improved and is now able to maintain light flat work as the lameness is now only minor, but I refuse to jump him until I know exactly what the issue was/is and he is feeling good. 


A happy horse will always perform better and I have big plans for this one!


“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up” Thomas Edison


So my time in Brasil has been spent trying to find every way I can to support myself and this horse! Something that I believe will all be worth it when he is jumping again!


Brasil is not at all similar to Europe when it comes to being a professional rider and I worked out a while ago, the riding jobs do not pay half as well as the trainers. Therefore, with getting Merry Jest up and jumping being my main priority I have turned a lot of my attention to the training side of things in Brasil. I really miss competing at the moment, but hope to return as soon as possible. In the meantime, I am enjoying teaching and training. I have started to build a loyal and stable client base of wonderful people to teach each week and the classical riding seminars are proving to have some good results. 


a day of teaching in sunny brazil - amy strapp

a day of teaching in sunny brasil


My first seminar was run at the beginning of this month at Villa dos Cavallos and I really enjoyed the experience. The audience was quite different to what we expected. We were covering basics of classical riding. As I said in my first blog, I believe the basics are the same for any discipline.


A fun new experience for me, training a beautiful young Friesian stallion to do dressage for a client

A fun new experience for me, training a beautiful young Friesian stallion to do dressage for a client


So this was aimed at all disciplines and we expected to achieve an audience of mainly young riders and amateurs. We didn’t think many professionals would be open to it. Instead, what I received was a very pleasant surprise when some more experienced seasoned riders attended (4 of which were from Europe anyway) all of who were keen and open to learn. It was a very enjoyable night and I felt I could learn a lot from my audience in return, with some enjoyable educated discussions on each of our experiences! The night reminded me of something very important I have seen all over the world, that the great riders, trainers or in general successful people never think they are too good to learn more! I hope to always stay open to learning and always try to improve where I am at as there are so many people out there who will always be able to teach me so much when I am open! 


To give everyone in Australia and Europe a taste of life in Brasil; Brasil is a beautiful country with a winter to die for! We are in the middle of winter now and short of a few rainy days here and there the majority of days are 25 degrees and sunny, absolutely perfect! When I walk to the stables or look out my window it is not un-common to see monkeys swinging in the trees or looking back at me with interest. I love monkeys! The people are very lovely and kind, often smiling. The food is fantastic, a little too good for my figure maybe and culture is very relaxed with a great deal of public holidays and celebrations. I asked what one of the holidays was for and I receive a shrug, smile as I am told “It’s just another dance and celebration, its tradition!” What more reason do you need than a good party for a public holiday right? 


TC Merry Jest enjoying the winter in Brasil

TC Merry Jest enjoying the winter in Brasil


However the way of life can be tough and public transport system is proving expensive and difficult. Despite the fact Brasil is estimated at around 1.1 times the size of Australia Brazil (8514877 km²), Australia (7692024 km²) there are no train systems in Brasil. That’s right NO TRAINS, not some, not a few, not ones that run a little late when it’s hot! None!


There are buses that can cost around 4.80 each per trip, whether that trip is 2 minutes or 15. I live near Sao Paulo one of the biggest cities in Brasil, so the traffic is terrible (due to lack of trains and many, many transport trucks on the road) and buses are very full. Therefore a commute from where I live to one of the stables where I teach and ride at three days a week (otherwise a 20 minute drive) will take two hours, three buses and a fair share of walking (and that’s just one way!). It always hurts seeing the money you just made disappear like that before I even make it to Merry! (I admit I am slightly more sensitive than usual about money as this month I had two weeks pay stolen from my purse and so things have been a little tighter then usual).


At the moment, the country is a bit unsettled with most of the people here getting a bit sick of problems such as public transport and costs of living versus possibilities to make money. Therefore there are a lot of strikes and protests in the cities around Brasil at the moment, as the people begin to fight the government. I am learning a lot about the culture and way of life and it makes you very aware of how lucky we are in Australia for all the opportunities we have! 


It turns out really to be the simple things that inspire you. Almost everyday I might see the same lady (maybe around 70-80yo?) walking to and from the bus stop on yucky, dirt roads next to big trucks pouring black clouds of pollution out into the air so that she can work or do her shopping. I’m not sure what she’s doing, but she is often carrying a fair share of bags. I think how she would have been doing this her whole life just to make from one day to another. Each time I pass and say ‘Ola’ she will always smile and return the greeting. 


At this point I suck it up walk a little more and get on another bus to do everything I can to get this horse going. I do not want to sound corny but we must always appreciate what we have, an able body and our health being the biggest thing I think. Having said that I see no reason why we should just ‘accept’ anything we don’t like in life?


“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison (again!)


I want to say a huge thank you to everyone in Brasil, friends in Europe and sponsor HORSEWARE in Ireland who have been more than fantastic (and patient!) with me while I continue my attempt at the ever impossible! Nothing is possible without any of you by my side, thank-you! I am continuing to love the journey and am excited for the future! 


I send all my best wishes to friends around the world and hope to see you all in Europe soon (with my first real big GP horse Merry by my side of course!)


Main Ring at Merry's Stable


Kindest regards from sunny Brasil!


Amy & TC Merry Jest

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