Inspiration Series - Monica Oakley

Inspiration Series - Monica Oakley

I first met Monica at a winter show jumping training day. We got chatting in the warm up ring and one thing led to another and I decided to go and have a lesson with her.

I had seen Mon at a few horse trials over the prior season and was always impressed by her consistent results across a team of 4 quite different horses, not to mention her ability as a rider which was clear to see.

In my first lesson with Mon, I found her to be a great communicator with a clear process for training and I came away from the lesson feeling empowered and clear in my mind about what I needed to work on.

Monica read my horse like a book in that very first lesson, and knew exactly how to navigate my riding and the training we needed to do to help us both improve. 

This was the beginning of a really fulfilling journey for me as a rider. Monica really focuses on the details and no stone is left unturned. She pushed and extended me in our lessons beyond anything I had experienced in any other training. I would be lying if I said it was always easy - it wasn't. There were days when I felt like I was nailing the things we were working on, and days when I felt I had screwed things up royally - but this is what I feel is so special about what Monica offered me.

Mon showed up for me in a way that was really pushing limits and boundaries. She showed me that in order to make true progress there are times when you have to extend yourself out of your comfort zone, and that when you do this - true learning and magic occurs. 

You have to trust the process and stick to the plan.

She also empowered me to see that I could achieve things within my riding journey beyond my own sets of ideals.

I am so glad I went for that first lesson because not only did I gain a great coach in Mon - I also gained a great friend.

Mon would often bring her team out to Te Rangi and use the fitness tracks. I would join her in doing some fitness work with my own horses when she came or, on occasion, hope aboard one of hers. Usually when this happened I got to hop aboard Sparky - a horse that was very much my type. Gorgeous blingy chestnut with a big white face and a real x factor. Sparky was later sold on to an up and coming, talented junior rider and they have gone on together to achieve incredible feats. I feel very privileged to have sat aboard Sparky even if it was just for a bit of fitness - she was such a pleasure to ride and so beautifully schooled.

Mon & Sonny out for some fitness at Te Rangi

When my young thoroughbred Hoot came along, I had some really fun learning opportunities in how best to bring along a young thoroughbred with an expert at my elbow. There are a variety of ideas and opinions about what to do when bringing on a young horse. What I love about Monica's approach is its systematic nature. 

Mon understands her horses so well, there is horsemanship in everything she does from the first feed of the day right through to  the moment her horses are turned out at night. 

In fact - she is so focused on the details that I caught myself having a bit of a laugh one day when we were setting up some hot tapes in one of her paddocks and she was striding out the distances between each pigtail to keep the spacing nice and tidy. The irony is that I now find myself doing the same thing - attention to detail is catchy!

Training with Monica has enabled me to look outside the box at what is possible in my life with horses. She has taught me to be systematic in my training, to really be “in the moment” in every ride and to focus on the details. 

Little things done well, each and every day, build gradually towards results - not only in competition but also in the bigger picture of training and connection with your horse.

I'm beyond grateful to have met Mon that day at the show jumping ring and to have had the opportunity to further enrich my knowledge of horse training. 

It is no accident that Monica has achieved amazing feats in her life already with her horses and I have absolutely no doubt that there will be many more to come.