During a normal year, Blanka travels widely giving demonstrations, when not training with some of the best in the World.
We are delighted to be able to introduce Blanka and her wonderful horses to you to find out a little more.
Give us a brief story on your first steps in the equestrian world?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved all animals. Every little creature gives me joy and happiness, and I could spend hours watching their natural behaviour and interactions with each other!
As a little girl, my mum often would take me to my grandmother. There were a lot of animals, from chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats… at this time, even a frog made me excited! A love of horses was purely natural for me. My first horse was a Friesian stallion from The Netherlands – Gerke v.d Louisa Hoeve. We learnt together, the way to achieve horse tricks in a natural way, step by step.
I actually consider this period of my life as first contact with natural horsemanship, because I did not use any force with the horse, and the results were very satisfying. I have always wanted to achieve results in a horse-friendly way. I also had an opportunity to start sidesaddle riding with Mr. Marek Gajewski, who was my first teacher in this equestrian art. Thanks to him, I won the Czech competition of horse jumping in sidesaddle. All these experiences inspired me to write my first book – “Horse Tricks”.
What brought you to Spain?
When I was a student, I met Maribel Barasona Carmona who is now one of my best friends, and I consider her to be my Spanish sister. She told me about the horse Mekka in Andalusia, Spain – Jerez de la Frontera.
I completely fell in love with the horses from Southern Spain. They were exactly the same horses I admired in the book “Horses -Caballos” which was a gift from my brother one Christmas Eve. I must say that this book was the trigger for me.
It was my first “chispa” (spark) and the reason why I fell for Spanish horses. Therefore, when I was choosing which University to study abroad during my Erasmus project, I knew it had to be Cordoba. The only Andalusian city with a veterinary medicine department. That was basically it!
What does your teaching involve?
I focus mainly on this aspect when I start teaching someone.
When I start working with new people, I need to discover their abilities and their balance.
It is not only the physical aspects, but also the mental ones. A person may not be that sporty, but their will is the most important.
The drive they have within themselves. I start with the horse books, to see their approach to the horse at the very beginning and then, how the person works from the ground while brushing the horse to check how confident they are.
It’s important not to be too confident, too shy or scared. I try to focus on the mental aspects and the weaknesses from the very beginning. Then, I lunge the rider from the ground to be able to clearly see how much balance they have, and how good their body awareness is. The moment I see someone walking, trotting or cantering, I can see how they respond and react to the horse. Some people are natural, some people are not. However, the people who don’t have it but are armed in strong will to learn, might even turn out to be better than the talented ones. Then, after the lunging, when I am sure that the person has good balance, I let them ride by themselves.
You seem to be working with some well-known and successful riders… How have they helped your career?
Obviously, having been a rider for ten years, practicing with riders from the Royal Spanish Riding School and being a vet there gave me a chance to work with almost all of the most respected equestrian authorities here. This includes the only female professor, Belen Bautista, and the previously mentioned Rafael Soto (Silver Olympic medalist from Athens 2004). By the way, I recommend everyone watches the video from this event. It is amazing to see how the showman can turn a competition into a Spanish showcase, basically casting a spell on the audience. One of the most important people in my equestrian life is Juan Jose Verdugo. He also is a professor at the Royal Spanish Riding School. He has come to Poland ten times to run clinics and, thanks to him, I learnt how to teach others. He showed me how to structure a training session, how to treat people, where the limits are and how much pressure can be put on a rider. He uncovered to me all the academic methods, the same as those used at the Royal School, one of the most important dressage schools in the world.
I have always dreamt of becoming a centaur and to understand horse language. I am aware that horses are not capable of learning human languages.
We need to learn their language to be able to communicate with them. When you realise that and put a lot of effort into understanding their language, you have already won.
My favourite kind of training is natural riding. I love bridleless riding, natural horsemanship from the ground and horse tricks. For me, it is pure magic to see a huge, 700 kg stallion dancing around you just because he wants to… it is priceless.
Only a horse which is completely devoted to you is keen on doing that. My goal now is to spend enough time with my golden boys to fully get to know their characters and be able to choose the best methods of work for them.
It is exactly the same as with people and learning. Everyone is different and each needs a different approach of teaching. Spanish stallions have a lot of expression and energy.
It is my job to find this potential and channel it in a safe and beautiful way, to let them fully express themselves and spread their wings. They feel confident and they want to show off, but only in a respectful and controlled way. It is necessary for them to learn how to manage this amount of power and strength.
You can find our more about Blanka Satora through her website at : http://blankasatora.com/en/