Testimonials from those who have taken part in courses with Mary Wanless


Dear Mary

Once again I feel I must write and say a really huge thank you to you and your team for the wonderful time you gave me on the July 2 day course, the first to be held at your own Centre. Like all previous courses I came home with my head buzzing with new ideas and concepts and a feeling of real excitement at the thought of going out and attempting to put the methods into practice at home.

I am also really enjoying watching the video David took of my lessons and I have played it several times as each time I pick up a new little titbit which I then eagerly go out and try the next time I ride! I find it all very exciting as there just seems to be so much to learn and to me it's a bit like opening a parcel and unwrapping all that paper!!!!! Maybe I'll never get to the gift inside, but perhaps the anticipation is the best bit.

Please pass on my thanks to Anna for all her great help. Her image of Legacy's little tantrums as being like a child chucking toys out of his toy box has made me giggle ever since ....... how she hit the nail on the head with that one. Now when Legacy tries one of his little evasions on me I no longer get all het up and **ssed off, I just smile broadly and tell him to stop behaving like a little boy. It's worked wonders on my mental approach to riding him.

Denise also did a great job helping me discover for the first time in my life what canter should feel like. Now I know what I'm trying to aim for and from the video it did look good and not half as odd as it felt! Please pass on my thanks to her for all her efforts with me.

I found it a truly relaxing weekend with Legacy and I'm sure that was due in no small way to the hard work Sam puts in to making the environment happy and pleasant for horses and humans alike. Please say a big thank you to him.

I hope all your courses are as much of a success as this one was. All the participants were really friendly and so supportive of each other it's hard to believe it was a riding course! I certainly got the impression that we all went home wanting more, more, more and I for one will be back again for a further injection of "marypower" before long!

Again, an enormous thank you for continuing to give me such a great experience with my riding and for all the effort you and your team personally put into your teaching.




Dear Mary

I am writing to thank you so much for the fantastic time I had on your course at Overdale in July.

It is no exaggeration to say that within those four days you and Anna turned around my outlook on riding and by so doing have enabled me once more to enjoy riding and to look forward to getting on my horse in a way which has not been possible since she bolted with me over a year ago. For that I can never thank you enough.

For me, coming on your course was quite literally "kill or cure", as it had got the stage where I felt I shouldn't be allowed on top of a horse - even riding my 30 year old Welsh Cob, who is as steady as a rock, could bring on panic attacks if something excited her. However, riding is so much a part of my life and so necessary for my soul (if you understand what I mean) that I couldn't bring myself to give it up. Perversely, I still wanted to ride Tiffany every day, even though it took an inordinate amount of energy to control my panic sufficiently not to upset her!

I steeled myself not to expect too much from the course but all my expectations have been exceeded. I now have some means of effective control over Tiffany (who incidentally has settled down to her work with the "new me" very nicely and seems to be quite approving of it). Bearing down, diaphragmatic breathing and "plunger down" are so empowering not only when riding but also during a normal working day - a totally unexpected benefit!

My instructor, who I think is one of the "talented 10%" you write about in your books, was not keen on my attending your course. She maintained riding should be done by feel and not by analysis. However, she accepted my argument that it is all well and good to ride by feel if you can do so, but not so good if you haven't a clue what you should be feeling! She is absolutely delighted with my more positive approach and renewed confidence. Tiffany's feedback and confirmation that I am "doing more right" has fully convinced her of the value of your approach. We are finally achieving what she has striven for years to teach me to do. Need I say more?

I am taking your advice and not venturing far from my comfort zone: I know how precarious my new-found confidence is, and how easily it could be shattered if I try to do too much too soon. However, for me it is just a relief to be able to get on my horse without suffering from stagefright beforehand and we are beginning to enjoy doing some of the things we always used to do before that awful day when she bolted with me.

I very much look forward to coming back again next year with Tiffany to further our learning - if she and I are both more settled this time you should see that she is quite a nice horse really!

Meantime, once more thank you, thank you, thank you for an excellent four days. Thank you also for those early days when you took the trouble to analyse how good riders ride, for researching how to impart that information to the rest of us, and indeed for having the grace to share it with us. Yours is an invaluable contribution to the horse world.




Dear Mary

I write to thank you for a most enlightening week! (15" - 22" June). I have had some classical lessons in the past with an excellent teacher who not only rode well herself, but could also teach. Since moving from that area of the country (8 years ago) I had not been able to find anyone who could teach me what I needed - until I found you. I hadn't realised how much I had overcorrected myself, I had latched onto some points of the classical work and Alexander lessons and had forgotten others - the result was a very hollow back.. Some of your ways of correction were very new to me but the aims were the same and the results much speedier know I have a very long way to go but at least I am on the right path.

Anna was of great help to me, both with the bodywork sessions and riding lessons, she complements you very well, and I am especially pleased to have started jumping as I have no confidence there and have been very wary of trying to jump a young horse as I was so sure I would tech her to run out because of my fears - so please thank Anna on my behalf.

Since returning home I have not ridden Flare very much as I have had a Balance saddle made for her and whilst this was being made was advised to give her back a rest as the saddle I had would have pinched her withers - a problem that Gloria had detected. The Balance consultant, like you, had advised that Flare was seen by Gavin, she has had her first session and Gavin has said her problems are totally curable, although he thought she may need two or three sessions. Hopefully now we can start to put into practise some of the things you have taught me. Meanwhile I have been watching the videos and reading your books which are of great help, but I know I need to come back for some lessons.

I am really looking forward to next year's course dates being available so that I can book up - I would like to attend at least 2 weeks and possibly a couple of weekends (depending on funds). Rhona has organised a lesson day with Linda near Petersfield which both Kath and I will attend on October 19th.

Once again thank you!




Dear Mary

I can't tell you what a difference you and Anna have made to my riding: my poor horse doesn't know what's hit her. Actually perhaps I shouldn't say "poor", as she may well feel a lot happier with a rider who doesn't slop around nearly as much and whose right leg is now almost stationary! I also feel much more secure so that when we spook at a flock of pigeons launching itself from behind the hedge, I remain much more attached to the horse. And I can make Belle wander to the left and to the right using the fencing technique.

The only trouble is, I don't know what to do next, so I'm enclosing an order for Video no. 2 (I already have the first one and it's really good for revision). My instructor is going to want me to do all sorts of things with the horse and I'm not 100% certain how to apply my newly acquired technique.

Thanks again for all your help, and of course, Rose's: I hope she has recovered from the shock of 8 lessons in a week.




Dear Mary

I have just finished reading your book "'For the Good of the Rider" and just wanted to let you know what a massive difference your books have made to my riding.

I have read "Ride with your Mind" a few times now and keep referring back to certain chapters. Each time I pick up a new piece of vital information which I missed before or perhaps misinterpreted or didn't fully understand.

I have also read "Ride with your Mind - Masterclass" and feel I have something in common with all of the riders in there! So you can see I have quite a number of problems!

There have been two moments in my life when I thought that l was going to give up riding altogether. Both times within the last three years. The first time was when my horse (a lightly built, very sensitive little Thoroughbred mare) bolted with me for the nth time and I fell off. The other time was last year at an unaffiliated dressage competition when the judge stopped me during the test, gave me a brief riding lesson then asked me to leave the arena (this was probably the single most humiliating experience of my life but I didn't cry this time which is about the only thing I can be proud of).

After I had wept buckets over the bolting episode, I came to my senses, as I always seem to when I have had a good weep, and thought right you are going to sort this out and if you can learn to ride this horse then maybe you'll be able to call yourself a good rider. Very soon after that I bought your book "Ride with your Mind". I could hardly put the book down! Just the "pinch feeling" and "bearing down" meant that suddenly I felt in control and confident. I have since discovered (after reading "For the Good of the, Rider") that I had been "pinching" too much and was actually "popped-up" off the saddle but as it still made such a massive difference, I don't care!

The dismissal from the dressage arena, (although it was very hard to take at the time.) was, I believe, simply me reverting back to my old way due to the stress factor of the competition and my horse being tense and hypersensitive in the unfamiliar surroundings.) All of my muscle power had shot out of my torso and into my arms causing them to be like the iron bars which should have been in my thighs. The dressage judge gave me a lesson on how to follow the horse with my hands -- basic stuff I -know, but it has shocked me into keep on practising the "bearing down" feeling, which I find really hard work.

From the moment I began learning to ride, at the age of nine, I wanted to become a good rider, it is the main goal in my life. Riding school life also made me want to become an instructor which I set out to do as soon as I left school. I soon became disillusioned and after failing the Preliminary Teaching exam. my parents persuaded me to go out and get a 'proper' job. I did this and have worked in an office ever since apart from one year when I became a self-employed, unqualified riding teacher. During that year I became bored with the teaching thing, I was just repeating the same old jargon and any improvements my pupils made was probably due to hours in the saddle rather than anything I taught them. I think my teaching would probably be described as "ineffective but harmless".

Since reading your books I feel as though I want to become a riding teacher again. . The whole subject is so fascinating - far from the boredom I felt and probably my pupils felt when I was teaching before. The only thing that is stopping me is my lack of confidence in my own ability to ride well. I feel as though people would laugh at me if I said I wanted to teach others. Yet I was so confident at the age of seventeen when I knew virtually nothing!

I hope that I can become an effective rider, eventually - I just wish the instructors that I occasionally go to for lessons would read your books! When things are not going well they tell me that there is nothing wrong with my riding and that the horse is being difficult and suggest things like (horror of horrors) draw reins! When I try to explain anything that I am feeling or something I am struggling with, they usually dismiss my comments as being "too technical". (Your books should be made compulsory reading for all instructors!)

My main regret is that I didn't buy "Ride with your Mind" when it was first published. By now I might have done the ten thousand repetitions required to ingrain the feelings I need to be able to ride effectively!

I cannot thank you enough for writing your books, they have given me tremendous encouragement because I know that you understand what I am going through and I am sure that all the other struggling, untalented riders, like me, who have read your books, feel the same way.

The other reason for writing was to ask if you could possibly send me a copy of `The Aids to Learning' catalogue and details of any courses you will be doing in the future. I would love to attend one of your courses and hopefully, if I can afford it, I will be able to.




Dear Mary

I felt compelled to write you this letter of thanks. I now realise that for years I have been riding around in the Mantrap!! I am in the midst of reading your book and finally finding out all I have been doing wrong for years.

I have owned two of your videos for a year or more and they helped me somewhat also, but not nearly so much as reading: "Ride With Your Mind - Masterclass." What an eye-opener it has been.
I seem to have at least one fault of each of the riders - and I have been taking lessons for years.

My riding began in Yorkshire where I lived until 1974. I never knew what a diagonal was until I came to live in America, after all I never rode my pony on circles. We hunted and jumped and did pony club stuff. Well, twenty years later and a small fortune in riding instruction, I would still always pick up the incorrect diagonal to the left, 99% of the time. Since putting some of your teachings into my riding, from the first day I amazingly picked up the correct diagonal that way.

The first bolt of lightening hit me with your description of why my shoulders, neck and arms were always stiff and tense - my center was not secure. You cannot believe how that knowledge has helped me. It makes so much sense. I have spent years trying to relax them to no avail, now I am working on getting the security in my seat which will, allow them to become relaxed. I don't know how far these improvements will go-I have only just begun-but so far my horse who had a tendency to bolt forward has not done so once....

A friend told me you gave a clinic in Baltimore last year, and I wondered if you will be doing another in the not too distant future? I work as a program coordinator at a community college where we have a beautiful new auditorium which seats 600 people and I also wondered if you ever give non-mounted clinics? If it would not be too much trouble, maybe you could let me know?

Most of all I just wanted to say, "THANK YOU" for what you are doing to help people like me who have struggled for years and were about to give up. Finally we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Although I have never thought that I would ever ride well enough to give lessons, I think I could help people using your visualizations, is there a program to train people to do that?
I will sign off by asking that you keep up the good fight. My headlights are on bright and are finally pointing down, where God willing they will continue to point for many years to come.




Dear Mary

Just prior to taking your 4-Day Course, I cautioned myself that perhaps your course might not live up to the expectations generated from reading your books. I am delighted to tell you that the course met and GREATLY EXCEEDED my expectations! What I expected from the course was to witness that combination of observation, exploration, experimentation and interactive feedback I had seen in your books. What I saw and learned on the course was so exciting for me that I haven't been able to think of anything but riding since!

My two objectives for the course were:

1) To come away with a consistent imprint of improved body position that would continue to develop after returning home, and

2) To learn how to ride in a relaxed concentration mode vs. my normal mode (often impatient with self and frantic to achieve positive results).

The process by which you helped me to meet these objectives was remarkable, and by the end of Friday's dismounted class my mind was looking for ways to continue the process.

When asked by my teacher what impressed me most about your course, my answer was: Ongoing exploration and interactive dialogue between teacher and rider, which empowers the rider to experiment with body position without fixating on the final product. I also told her that especially helpful to me was the physical demonstration of just how much pinch and bear down is required!

Your programme will improve my riding. Learning about the Alexander Technique will improve my life. I knew little about the Alexander Technique, only what I had gathered from your occasional references to it in Ride With Your Mind. I did harbour some scepticism before my Alexander lesson with Trisha. It was not until later that same afternoon, while driving back, that I was amazed to find that I could remember and recreate the sense of relaxation introduced to me during the lesson. And it was then that I began to see what a vital role the Alexander Technique plays in your teaching concepts. My plans are to continue with Alexander lesson in Michigan, confident that learning the technique will help me control the overwhelming nervous tension that interferes constantly in my life.




Dear Mary

It is now twelve months since I first met you and bought your book "Masterclass", and about three months since I came to one of your courses at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.

All this has become a turning point for me and my horse, although we still have a long way to go. How I wish that this had all come to me years ago. Ashley and I are finding everything becoming easier and he is a much happier horse whose "worry level" has dropped from 10 to 0.5! Most of my work is done on hacks, on your recommendation and I have noticed how different Ashley looks when I see his reflection in house windows. He is mucgh rounder in walk and canter, though I still lose him in trot at times. He is straighter and his lateral work has improved enormously, and I get wonderful moments when he finds self carriage. Sometimes I don't want to get off him and I run the risk of overdoing the schooling.

When I returned from your course everything went very well for about three weeks, then I felt I had lost my way a little and over-reacted to the changes. However, with RWYM friends' help, complete with video camera, I am back on course again. We have meetings periodically with horse, camera, books, cups of coffee and endless discussion. We have been known to get down on the kitchen floor and try exercises. Our husbands all think we are crazy!

What you have done for me is make me so much more aware of my influence (or lack of it) on my horse to produce the correct interaction. My concentration level has risen dramatically. Our tension has reduced and hopefully I can continue to remain causal. The relaxed, rounder outline I can maintain for limited periods, which I hope I can extend for longer periods eventually and hopefully his dressage marks will improve. He is nearly there!

May I thank you for your imput which has had such a profound influence over my riding and learning process. Hopefully we shall meet again sometime soon. In the meantime, may I wish you all the best.




Dear Mary

It is more than three weeks since I attended your most recent RWYM course and I wanted to write and thank you for the retainable difference it has made to my riding.

I brought Robert on the course (large, grey, naff canter) and although I haven't had much chance to ride him since, I am still able to get him to co-operate. I find this amazing since I half expected that the changes I had been able to make at the centre would not be repeatable back home (I have also been riding a nervous and tense ex-polo pony who is beginning to trust this new seat and responds so dramatically that the feedback is instant).

I find equally valuable the impact the course has had on my mental approach. During the first two days of the course, I found myself blaming my previous instructor for my lack of ability to sit correctly. I also experienced a huge initial resistance to your methods, although this had gone by the end of the second day. Nevertheless this puzzled me, since Masterclass had stopped me from giving up riding, and made instant sense to me when I discovered it a year ago.

When I read "Riding Towards the Light", which you recommended, the penny dropped. I found this book incredibly powerful - it had both an enlightening and humbling effect. It made me realise that self-gratification had become the most important reason for my wanting to ride well, and that this had effectively paralysed that part of me which responded to the philosophy behind RWYM and Masterclass when I first read them.

Once again, many thanks, and I look forward to seeing you (and hopefully some of the other instructors who were so supportive) on another course next year.