Along for the ride: Focus Epiphany

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

This blog was written back in November, 2017

2017 was a year of epiphanies for Warwick and while he explains them to me, I really think that it has to happen for you, for yourself. It happened for me today.

I was working with Cooper, he’s Warwick’s new horse that he is going to show next year to get back in the show arena. Warwick is in Australia and he gave me the things he wanted me to work on with him. I had asked about the focus exercises and he said not to worry about them. He felt that way because Chuy (his former assistant) had this horse in training for the last 2 years and each time we had been around him, he thought he was fine about that.

Well, I picked him up about a week after Warwick left and it’s been about a week so far and he is a bit different. He was taken out of his routine, from his buddies and everything that had become safe to him. And he is not the chill dude we had encountered at Chuys. He is totally anxious. Totally buddy sour. And TOTALLY.LACKING.FOCUS!

I’d been trying to follow the instructions from Warwick, but today, there was just too much going on and I really thought that if I just jumped on – I could be in for a bit of a rodeo. Since I’m alone and most of the neighbors are working during the day, I decided that I was not up for a rodeo today (actually, I’m never up for a rodeo ride).

I had saddled him before I had made my rodeo assessment. So, when I brought him into the arena, I proceeded to do some of the focus exercises – against my instructions. I thought Boy, this horse is so distracted. He literally cannot look at me for a second. He will look EVERYWHERE BUT at me. I took some deep breaths and tried to push aside the frustration of that (because the expectation was that he wouldn’t need this work) and worked through the exercises. We made some progress and he had some good moments of relaxation. I could visibly see the anxiety dissipate, it was pretty cool.

So, when he’d emptied out the rabbits that I was afraid of earlier, I got on and was thinking that I would then work on the things that Warwick had outlined for me, without the rodeo. I had just done the preliminary “where do you want to go” exercise and once again noticed his lack of focus. And this is when the epiphany hit me – what good is it to try to train on this horse if he cannot focus on me? He’s not THERE with me. Not really, not yet. We haven’t done enough of that work yet! He doesn’t have the skill built up yet. He doesn’t know me, he doesn’t trust me yet, I’m not his Lookout ZEBRA YET!!!

I’m sure you are not surprised by this. But I was! Why did I not already know this? I’d heard Warwick talking about it ALL.YEAR.LONG!

I wish I could explain to you what a relief it was for me to come to this realization. I thought, well, he needs to be exercised, so I can do that. I decided that I would not worry about anything but exercising him. I would try to keep the rabbits low with some walking in circles with my hand out to the side if he needed it (he totally does the windshield wiper eyes!) and then just exercise him without any expectation whatsoever!

As good as this felt, I also felt TERRIBLE. OMG! How many horses had I ridden and bumped on their mouth and kicked with my legs when they were in no mental state for it! Sherlock, for sure. Petey – probably. It is one of those moments that I cannot unsee!   I’m not sure how this is going to unfold, but I do know that until we work on the focus exercises with both of my new horses that the goal is very simply to keep them legged up.

The postscript to this blog will be next week after fast forwarding 6 months. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.

Along for the ride: Choosing courage over comfort

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

If you would have told me 7 years ago when we moved back from Australia to the USA that I would ever be thinking about what thousands of people thought about Warwick (or me), I would have laughed (maybe cringed is a better word). I’ve always been the one to take it personally when someone didn’t like us or said unkind things about us – so to have ever thought that it would be thousands of people versus a dozen or so, that is just crazy talk! It only took a couple to influence my decision to move back to the USA from our 4 year stint in Australia!

You see, when we moved to Australia at the end of 2006, one of the things that we did was get involved in the politics of the reining association there. I had some NRHA qualifications as a judge, secretary and world champion competitor and Australia had just affiliated with the NRHA in the USA. So, we got involved on boards and tried to educate people and improve the sport of reining in Australia.   We made a lot of progress, but it wasn’t without a personal cost. It was devastating to hear the names that people called me, many of whom I had never met or spoken to. It was one of the reasons that I demanded we moved back to the USA, among others, including being really homesick and missing my family.

Then we moved back and I thought we would settle back into our life here – not get involved in any of the horse show politics and not have to worry about too many people forming opinions about us. Boy, was I wrong!   As the Youtube channel grew, so did the opinions (both good and bad) and then as social media grew, more opinions and judgments.

Warwick truly believes the adage of “What other people think of you isn’t any of your business”. I’ve tried to embrace that – but I have not done a great job at putting my arms or head around it. I can say that I don’t take it AS personally as before, or maybe for as long, but when someone is upset or has a negative opinion of Warwick (or I) it still hurts. When you know that your intentions are in the right place, it is difficult to shrug off words that sting.

Something that Brene Brown said in a recent audio book has made me reflect recently. Maybe the tides are changing. Some of her inspiration in Daring Greatly and other books, comes from a great Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

She goes on to say that the ultimate courage is showing up to be seen, with no control over the outcome. She says that a lot of the “cheap seats” in the arena are filled with those who never venture onto the floor, they hurl insults and comments from the very safe distance of their seats.

Hearing this put it in perspective for me and made me think a bit differently about my time in Australia and for the plans we have in place for 2018. I can choose comfort or I can choose courage. I am choosing courage. I believe with all my heart that what Warwick is doing is helping horses and people all over the world. He is helping people change their lives. Sure, it might be easier to not put it out there and dare greatly, but then what happens to those horses or people who might need to hear what he is saying?

I was always proud of what we accomplished and tried to accomplish in Australia. But I wasn’t able to allow myself to feel the pride completely because of those people. Even though I knew that most of those hurling the insults weren’t in the arena, I let them keep me from feeling good about what we had done there. Now, what I have come to realize while writing this blog is that, not only were they not in the arena, they had never even seen the arena that I had seen. I knew what was possible because I had been in the biggest of arenas (literally). I guess it would be hard for them to understand something they’d never seen before and trust the words of a foreigner (who later became a fellow citizen).

Fast forward 10 years and the reining scene in Australia has blossomed and grown and many, many of those people have visited the USA and spent time at the reining shows here seeing the biggest, most prestigious arenas. Funnily enough, some of the things we fought so hard for, are now a reality there. I don’t know if it had anything to do with our efforts, but I’d like to think that we planted some seeds and led by example.

So, the next time someone says something about you, maybe because of the path that you have chosen with your horse, I would encourage you to do 2 things. 1. Take a deep breath and picture yourself in the arena. (I think I’m going to picture myself in a gladiator outfit, thinner and tanner since it’s just a made up image – just for fun!) While you are picturing yourself there, remember what Roosevelt said about those cold and timid souls who will never know victory nor defeat! They are choosing comfort over courage and you are totally not!!!  The second thing I want you to try and do is to think of it as a lead by example situation. You might be planting seeds as well. At least they noticed what you are doing with your horse if they are talking about you! Keep giving them something to talk about and maybe, just maybe, some beautiful things will blossom. The result can only be good things for their horse!

“At first they will ask why you are doing it. Later they will ask you how you did it.”

Thanks for reading!

Along for the ride: 10-year-old girl training

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

Warwick talks about “10-year-old girl” training and how it is good for the horses and good for us as well. To just spend time with our horses without an agenda or expectation is good for both of our souls.

We dubbed this relationship stuff “10 year old girl training” after a long year of epiphanies and it culminated while watching a friend of ours, who is amazing with horses. We were trying to figure out the process that they go through to get their results. At first we were convinced that there was no process at all, just feel. Amazing things happened through the relationship they had with their horses. After a while, it hit us that the person did actually have something and it was what we deemed “10 year old girl training”.

When I was 10, I had a great horse named Sir Poco. He was an ex-barrel racer but had good foundation Quarter Horse lines that made him very versatile. He was my transportation, my friend, my confidante, my Barbie doll, my everything! We spent hours and hours together. I didn’t treat him like a horse, I treated him like my best friend. Endless hours of brushing and riding bareback. I’d bring him into the garage when it was cold and groom him there. My friends and I would ride double and triple and practice falling off in the tall grass. We’d play hide n seek and use him as a play structure. There were the races down the canals, swimming, jumping and trail obstacles. We were partners. We had a connection.

We were quite successful in the show arena at the time too. He tried his guts out for me every time. I remember one of the last times I saw my grandpa was at a horse show close to where they lived. He and grammy had come to watch me show, he was battling cancer, I was 11. I won my first buckle that day – it was for Hi Point 13 & Under for that show series. I was so proud and happy that I got to share that day with Baba.

Fast forward 7 years and we had been raising a few horsey babies. My mom did most of the work with them. I decided that I was going to “start” our young mare Barbi. She was a beautiful black Quarter Horse that we had seen born and done everything with. Looking back, we did everything wrong and I know now that it was the connection I had with her that kept me from dying in the process of breaking her to ride.

With both of the horses from my youth, I had developed a relationship with them that allowed them to trust me and we had a connection, kind of like on the movie Avatar! That is super important. But, it’s not everything! There was a limit to what I could teach those horses based on just 10 year old girl training. I could do things that the horse wanted to do or was ok with but if I would’ve wanted to get farther along in my “training” of those horses, I would have needed more than just the relationship.  In fact, we ended up selling Barbi because she didn’t end being able to do what I wanted her to do (surprise-surprise). The relationship is important, but so are the horse training tools that we cultivate with them. It’s all about balance, just like Warwick talks about so much.

30 years later, I’ve got the horse training process good and it’s come full circle. Now we are incorporating a little more 10-year-old-girl training with our horses. Adding the relationship stuff back in seems to be working well. We are getting to the balance that I think we all seek with our horses – a horse that can do what we want and remain happy with us and their life along the way. That has become my new goal – not only a horse that can do the things that I want to do but remain HAPPY, really HAPPY. I’ve had horses that were happy (when I was young) and I’ve had horses that could do the things (starting with my first real western pleasure horse and most of the horses since then). In retrospect, I don’t think I ever had the balance of both at the same time. So far it seems to be working great. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together – I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for reading.


Along for the Ride: How do you form a deep connection with your horse?

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

I’m guilty of not really taking the time to fully understand a horse’s nature in the past. I’d get upset when they didn’t do what I wanted or act how I wanted. I took it personally. I got mad. Sometimes I took it out on them with a jerk or kick. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve become a real student of the horse. I feel bad about not taking the time to fully understand my horses and truly listen to what they were trying to tell me. I wish I could change what I’ve done with them. Like I’ve said before, now that I know better, I try and do better. However, it is now one of those see/unsee topics!

I’ve come to form the opinion that if we are going to own or ride or interact with horses then it is our duty to learn about how they think so that we can honor that commitment to them. We need to learn where they are coming from. We need to empathize with them. I have to thank Warwick for looking outside of his comfort zone and sharing what he’s discovered with me and everyone else in the last year. Really, I think it is very brave to open himself up and say so publicly that he doesn’t have all the answers and that he is seeking a deeper connection with the horses.

I think the biggest thing that we need to understand about horses (because it is the biggest hurdle that I see) is that they aren’t looking for a friend or a lover like we are. Many of us use our horses as an escape of some form and when we do that we are thinking about what we want and not what the horse needs. I’ve come to believe what a horse wants most is to know they are safe. If you are to become a dependable “herdmate” then they want to know that you are someone they can count on to keep them safe. They want someone to be mentally present and aware of what they are doing and feeling.   Yes, I’m sorry to say, you might have to put your cell phone away and actually pay full attention to what your horse is “saying” to you.   Further to that, you really need to listen to what they are telling you.

Spooky and anxious horses are often that way because they do not feel like they have control over what happens to them. Think about that for a second. They are giving you valuable information through their actions. The anxious ones feel like they have to be on the lookout for themselves because nobody has proven to them that they “have their back”.  So, they are on high alert all the time and it can show itself to us as a spook or bolt.

Warwick told me a story from his Africa trip that really brought this concept home for me. He said that this happened while he was there, in Kenya, over the summer doing clinics and working with some individuals and their horses. It just so happened that one of the venues was closely situated to where herds of wild zebras and wildebeests roamed around. This gave Warwick an opportunity to observe some of their behaviors and he related those behaviors to horses.

He said that he noticed that while the herd of zebras were together, there was always one zebra who was “on duty”, keeping watch for predators. While the one was on guard, the others would graze, sleep or roll. The zebras never did any of these vulnerable actions if there wasn’t another keeping an eye out. They traded this duty amongst the herd. Each zebra had proven that they were to be trusted through their consistent actions. If the one was on lookout duty, that is what he did, he kept his eyes peeled for predators. He didn’t wander off or chase butterflies or otherwise disengage. He was on the job!

Just like the zebra, a horse’s safety is always top of mind for them. Warwick said that I should think of my horse as a zebra who wants one of his herdmates to ensure his safety – and I am that herdmate! I have to prove to my horse that I’ve got this part handled. I have to become the lookout Zebra! That means paying attention, really paying attention, to your horse.

Once you prove to your horse that you’ve got his back, you will begin to form a relationship with him that allows him to relax and count on you.  Just like people who are close to us, they want to be able to confide in us that they are feeling a little on edge or scared and have the response be one of reassurance and empathy.

There are many ways to start working on this relationship. First you have to forgive yourself for the past. Horses are very forgiving and when you start showing up in the way that your horse wants you to, they will be present with you and not dwell on the past. But, it may take time. Just like any relationship, you have to show your horse that you mean it. We’ve all heard that old adage: Actions speak louder than words. I’m sure we all know someone who has told us that they have changed and maybe even convince us with their words. They fail with their actions and the next time they tell us, we disregard it. Consistently showing your horse that you’ve got his back, that you are present with him, you “hear” what he is saying to you, all of these things will forge the deep connection we all crave with our horses.

Forging this connection with your horse starts with showing up and being mentally present. Take the time to see what he is telling you. Your horse will notice and if you do it consistently enough, there is nothing that the two of you cannot accomplish together!  Be forewarned though, once you start being present with your horse, you may find it happening in other parts of your life!

If you want more details on this process that we are calling “Focus work”, there are several videos in the library that show you what to do.

Have fun!

Thanks for reading.





Along for the Ride – Complain with perspective

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

“Complaining is okay, but piss and moan with a little perspective.” Brene Brown

We had a photoshoot the other day. Actually 2 days in a row. (and not with a camera!) I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how I’ve always carried a little too much weight and I care about what people think about me. So, you will understand that a photo shoot was not really on the list of things that I wanted to do on my Saturday and Sunday mornings (well anytime really). It’s February and even though we are having pretty nice weather, my body believes that it needs to bulk up and keep me warm during the winter months. In my experience, it’s been seasonal, and once it gets warmer, it’s easier to shed the weight (I said easier but in no way do I mean EASY).

Then there is menopause and that whole battle. I guess I’m young for menopause, but it’s been happening for the last 4 years…and a couple months ago my Naturopath read my blood results and proclaimed “YOU ARE DONE!” I was ESTATIC! I wanted to believe it with my whole being. And then, my body told me differently….sigh….. So I’m pretty sure that this year seasons mean NOTHING!!! I will be carrying the weight until this menopause thing is REALLY over. My Naturopath and my mom assure me that once it is done, weight and eating isn’t an issue! Where’s the fast-forward button???

Oh, one more thing, the grey hair. I am fully on board with embracing the grey as I get closer to 50. The decision is made easier by the fact that for the last year I have left the hairdressers with the foils in my hair so that I did not have to put my head back in her bowl to be rinsed. I had some vertigo late in 2016 and the fear of it returning keeps me from tempting fate (so leaning my head back is something I won’t do…same with the dentist) so I drive home with foils and take a shower. Forget it, I’ll let it grow out and get cavities!

Sooooo, grey hair growing out, cavities multiplying, 10 pounds of padding and menopause hot flashes – made it an interesting couple of photo shoot mornings. But, I am pissing and moaning with perspective. I know these are trivial things and I can either do a photo shoot in these conditions or suffer the alternatives. I could be still working in corporate HR and not with the horses and the man I love every day. Warwick could still be only helping a handful of people and not thousands. Other alternatives are: that I could have NO hair, NO teeth, or still have vertigo or have had a hysterectomy early like my sister or not have the amazing horses we have to take pictures with – I mean – seriously – who cares about the 10 extra pounds, grey hair, cavities and menopause? Not Warwick. At the end of the day, he’s the only one I want to impress. So, why should I complain?

We hear a lot of people complain about their horses. Most of the time it’s about something that happened once or twice and not something that is engrained. I think they need to have perspective as well. Your horse is not perfect and will not always act the way that you want it to, despite your best efforts. Things will not always go according to your plan. Just like life. BUT – at the end of the day, if you are lucky enough to have a horse, then YOU ARE LUCKY ENOUGH! Reminds me of a Youtube video Warwick did, while we were in England (another thing I complain about and shouldn’t – fear of travelling. I mean, really? We get to see the most amazing places and meet the BEST people!!)

I guess, I’m saying to you and reminding myself that the occasional bitch and moan is ok, but make sure that you do it with a little perspective and don’t make it a habit.

Thanks for reading!

Along for the ride: Why the old adage of “Don’t let your horse win” is outdated

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

I remember taking a lesson when I was about 6 or 7 years old from my Equitation coach. There was a big gooseneck trailer on one end of the arena and when we were riding we would go behind it on that end for probably 4 or 5 horse lengths unseen to the trainer. Usually, that is where we would relax for a minute because our arms and legs were aching from holding our perfect posture. Well, one day, the horse I was riding, my sister’s horse Shawna, figured out the drill and stopped behind the trailer to roll. I’m sure the coach heard my screams and came running over. “Don’t let her do that!” She yelled, “You have to show your horse who is the boss!” I think there was some kicking on the horse to get it up and it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some whipping and jerking when I got back on. I was a kid and my trainer told me I couldn’t let her win, so I did what I thought I needed to do to show her that I was the boss of her.

As far as we have come in horsemanship, I am still surprised when I hear people talk about not letting the horse win. I am ashamed that I believed that I had to show my horse who was boss in order to get her to do things that I wanted to do. But, now that I know better, I try and do better. Here is a story that Warwick tells that will illustrate why the principle of “Don’t Let Your Horse Win” is outdated and should be abandoned immediately!

“I had a young man working from me who grew up in Mexico, named Jesus! (The nickname for Jesus in Mexico is “Chuy”, so he goes by the nickname.) After a couple of years working for me, Chuy went back to his hometown in Mexico and ran into some of the local “horse trainers”. He asked if there were any troubled horses.   There was one in particular whom they mentioned would rear up and flip over when asked to turn left. This piqued Chuy’s interest and so he questioned them a bit more about the horse and when it would perform such a feat. It turned out that they liked to ride into the next village and drink a little tequila and when they did, they would turn left down the main street and gallop all the way to the next village.   He also found out that the horse’s paddock was behind the main street.

So, Chuy asked if he could ride the horse. They obliged. He saddled up, got on and sat there chatting for awhile – seemingly doing nothing. He was, in fact, doing quite a bit of lateral flexion work and seeing how soft the horse was. He figured that it was not the steering that was the problem, but maybe the horse had a bit of an issue with all the work that he would have to do when he turned left down the main street (galloping to the next town). Chuy put himself in the horse’s head and decided if he was a horse, he’d rather be at home in his paddock kicking back.

Chuy walked the horse down the street around the corner to the main street and asked the horse to go left – of course, the horse objected. So, instead of fighting the horse and causing a rear and flip, Chuy went with the horse – who promptly galloped to the right and around the block to his paddock. When they arrived at the paddock, Chuy worked the horse in his paddock until the horse began to change his mind about how fun it was to be in the paddock and then Chuy set off to ride down to the main street again. When he arrived at the main street and asked the horse to turn left, he once again got an objection so he went with the horse again. Guess where the horse took him? Yep – right back to his paddock. Chuy promptly put the horse back to work in the paddock until the horse began to change his mind about how fun it was to be in the paddock.

Chuy repeated this sequence of events a couple more times, much to the dismay of the older, “more experienced” horse trainers. “You cannot let him win!” was heard more than once and Chuy was beginning to feel a little bit threatened for his safety as their taunts of anger escalated.

However, about the 6th or 7th time that Chuy worked the horse in the paddock, the horse had changed his mind about how much fun it was to be back at home and when Chuy picked up on his left rein at the main street, the horse happily turned and galloped off.”

This story is a great example of the Choose Where you Work and Choose Where you Rest principle of horse training that we have included on the video library. This principle works much better than the “Show them who’s boss” or “Don’t Let Them Win” principle.

Think of it this way: all horses have an internal GPS and they have dropped pins in all the places that they have known to be places of work and places of rest. They will continually seek out the places of rest over the places of work.

This horse had pins dropped at the main street – he knew it was a lot of work galloping to the next town and the ride back was probably not much fun depending on how much Tequila was consumed. The “rest pin” was in his paddock. He knew that all pressure was released there and he got to chill. Imagine the fights that had ensued when the riders held onto the belief of “You cannot let him win!”. I bet there were some pretty ugly scenes and it escalated until the horse finally figured out how to win by rearing and flipping over. Pretty extreme.

By understanding that horses are energy conservers and will seek out the place of most rest, Chuy was letting the horse win and then changing his mind about the place of rest. He used this principle with great success and to the amazement of the older horse trainers from his village.

If you want to hear Warwick tell the story, with bad accents and all, you can watch it here:

Thanks for reading.


Along for the ride: Choosing a horse trainer

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider

How do you know if your trainer is “the one”?

They say that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. At least that is the tactic I used when I’d conduct interviews when I was in HR. If you could get the candidate to give you specific examples of things that they had done in the past, you could evaluate how that would work for the position and environment that you were recruiting for. Even better was to get work samples or put them in a simulated work environment. It wasn’t foolproof, but it was a lot more objective than some interview strategies that I had used and endured in the past.

Luckily we live in a digital world where finding feedback on anything or anyone is as easy as clicking a few times. You can find feedback or examples of the product or service that you desire and compare it to what you want and make an informed decision.

Choosing who you want to get help from to train your horse is no different. Unlike most professions, anyone can call themselves a horse trainer – no credentials needed! This makes your job even more difficult and frankly a bit scary.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you are considering someone to help you with your horse:

  1. What do their horses or horses they have worked with look like? Would you like to climb aboard and take them for a ride? How have they PROVEN to you that they know what they are doing (that they walk the talk)?
  2. How long have they been training horses? How many have they trained?
  3. Does the person explain things in a way that you understand and fits with the way you learn? Can you get enough information from them for you to be successful? Do you believe in what they are saying?
  4. Is their process easy to duplicate? Meaning, at your level is there something for you or do they inspire you to make changes?
  5. Are they accessible? Do they answer your questions or have available avenues of feedback?
  6. What are they achieving? Are they getting better? Improving? Evolving? If so, is it in the direction you want to as well? If not, are you ok with that?
  7. How do they treat others? Are they someone you would like to learn from? Would you like to spend time with someone like this?
  8. What do other people say about them?

These are just a few of the questions that come to mind, I’m sure there are more. Warwick’s advice is to follow someone’s process all the way through, whether it’s his or someone else’s (as the wife, obviously I advocate for his!). If you’ve chosen your person and answered positively to the above questions, then whomever you have chosen has proven that their process is successful.  Our advice is to follow that process all the way through from start to finish. THEN you can go back and refine, tweak, experiment, etc. I heard Jonathan Field say once, “First you have to know the rules, then you can break them.”   What I interpreted that to mean was, after you get through it all successfully, then you can modify, change, add or delete from the process.

It reminds me of what our Scottish friend, Brandon McAuslan, once told Warwick about being a black belt in the martial arts. He thought that once he was awarded his black belt that it would be the pinnacle, the end all to be all. Then he got there. Then, he started over to get his second black belt (or something like that) and got to go back through everything with a black belt’s eyes and knowledge and learned SOOOO much more! That made a lot of sense to both of us. If you go through a successful process all the way through, then you can go back through it and you will inevitably see things deeper and more clearly. THEN you can “break the rules” and tweak things.

Warwick says that at first you have to Stick to the Damn Plan…then you can Stick to the Damn Principles. I think he’s onto something there!

STTDP everyone!

Thanks for reading!

Post script – this was not meant to be an ad for Warwick – it goes along with his newest Youtube video here:
and I had been composing something along the same lines, so I thought they would compliment each other.


Along For The Ride: Once you See, you cannot Unsee

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider. 

Once you see, you cannot un-see!

We get a lot of comments on social media about this topic. After watching the video library, people learn a different way (I wanted to put “a better way” and we think it is a better way, but thought that might be too presumptuous). Then they watch someone doing something with a horse and can immediately see why the horse is acting that way and that it could be easily fixed. Usually the cause for the post is to ask whether they should say something or not.

I still struggle with this sometimes going to the reining shows because I see so much that could be addressed differently. It’s actually made me question whether I want to continue competing at those shows. Here are the first two examples that immediately come to mind.

The first is due to the fact that each arena we compete in is lined with sponsor banners. Some horses don’t care about them and others do.   I have learned, through Warwick’s principles of training, how to most effectively deal with a horse that is concerned about something. It is a matter of being empathetic to the horse – recognizing that they are bothered. But really, it starts way before they are put in a situation to be bothered by a banner. If we have done a good job of teaching them to empty out their rabbits, then the banner is a non-event.

However, at the show, in that moment, if they are spooking, what I typically see done is the following: The rider jerks and kicks the horse, pointing it directly at the banner and continues until the horse goes up to it. Basically, those people are saying, “I don’t really care how you feel, you are being stupid, it’s just a banner!” I see this too many times at the shows. Warwick did a great Youtube video on this topic, it is a little confrontational but was made to be. He wanted to get people to THINK about it. If I’ve peaked your curiosity it is called How NOT to get your horse to approach a scary object Don’t say I didn’t warn you and yes, Abby knew full well what she was getting into before filming!

The second thing I see that can’t be unseen can be a little more subtle but very relevant to me and all other reiners. It’s the draw of the gate in the arena! I have to fix the gate at EVERY.SINGLE.NEW.ARENA with Petey! Luckily it only takes once or twice letting him make the mistake and correcting him to where he figures out that the gate is more work than rest! I totally get that this is part of Petey and that he needs to check it out at every new arena.  I don’t get offended or mad about it, in fact, it’s kind of amusing!

The draw of the gate causes all kinds of problems for the reining horses. When you are supposed to be performing at high speed on a loose rein, your horse has to be with you, not thinking of being somewhere else. If they are thinking out the gate is better than in the arena, it can cause leaning towards the gate, which can cause the horse to swap leads, to come out of frame, to lean in a stop, to run off towards the gate when running to a stop. I’m convinced that if more people took care of this problem right at the start of their ride, there would be so much less conflict seen in the arena (because the typical fix for leaning problems usually involve pulling on reins or using spurs way more than need be.) It’s kind of like trying to learn something when you are hungry. The only thing you can think of is how hungry you are, not the lesson in front of you. Or maybe that’s just me when I’m hungry – I do tend to get Hangry! Those horses, when they think that the rest is outside the gate, the only thing they can think of is how they are going to get out the gate!

I’ve decided that the best way that I can address the things that I can’t unsee is to lead by example. I will admit that I’ve tried to do it the other way. I’ve given unsolicited advice and it usually ends with the person looking more confused than before. So, I stick with the leading by example tactic. I am lucky enough to have horses that I can really show off the principles of training at the horse shows and win a bunch of stuff on! I know I get some weird looks while I’m jogging circles at the gate (sometimes blocking the gate), but my horses don’t lean or think towards the gate while I’m running full speed in my patterns. I haven’t had anyone ask about what I’m doing there yet, but if and when they do, I’ll happily explain.

So that is the advice that we give to people who ask about the things that they can’t unsee. Be the example. Do your thing. People will change when they see a reason to change. Think about what made you search for a different (better) way. If someone had tried to tell you before you were ready, likely it would have fallen on deaf ears. Just honor your horse with your new and expanding knowledge and maybe you will be the catalyst for someone else looking for a better way.

Thanks for reading.



Along for the ride: FANGIRL

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider. 

It’s always been a little weird when someone comes up at clinics or expos and meets Warwick for the first time and is gushing and “fangirling”. I guess because to me, he’s just “Work” (that’s how my family pronounced his name for a long time!) He’s just the guy I married almost 24 years ago (in February). Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s amazing, but it has still been strange to see his popularity increase – people wanting things with his name on it, wanting his autograph, wanting to take pictures with him. To tell you the truth, I try not to think about it because it still feels a bit surreal.

But, the other day I finally GOT IT!

Let me explain. For the last couple of months, Warwick has had me listening to Brene Brown on audiobook. I spend a lot of time alone and I usually put on talk radio so it is another person’s voice and not just music. He convinced me to switch to some of Brene’s books on Audible and it’s been amazing.

Brene talks about wholeheartedness and vulnerability and shame. So much of it hit home, as it would with any human being who is not a psychopath (she says this).   I have listened to all of her full-length books, most with her narrating them and another that is a shorter session. I think I’ve listened to 2 of the full- length books twice and the shorter session about 4 times. I always pick up new things when I listen to them again. The point is, I have binged on Brene Brown recently! She has been my constant companion for about a month!

The other day I was walking Holden around our neighborhood, listening to my friend Brene (because this is what she feels like about now) and I thought to myself, I kinda love Brene Brown! I would actually love to meet her. She could totally be my friend. I pondered why I felt this way and concluded that it was because she had taught me so much. I could relate to her, she was funny, humble, likeable. And then it hit me: this is why people react to Warwick in the same way!

They might not know him, but they’ve listened and watched hours of his videos. They learned things from him that have had a profound impact on the relationship they have with their horses (and with others, we’ve heard). He’s funny, he’s humble and they can relate to him. It’s exactly the way I feel about Brene Brown!

So, if you’ve been one of those people at the clinics or expos or anywhere else, I’m sorry! Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve always been gracious when people come up to talk to Warwick, but I think if you looked hard enough, the confusion could be seen in my eyes. Now that I know what that feeling is, I will do better and it’s actually pretty cool that people feel that way about Warwick. I sure hope that I get to meet Brene Brown someday and tell her how she has so positively impacted my life. I might even get a picture with her or have her sign a book!

Thanks for reading.


Along for the Ride: Baking a cake

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider. 

Give yourself some time to train your horse – it’s like baking a cake! (***Warning & Apology*** too many baking analogies used in this blog)

I admit it – I was never into the horse training part – I just wanted to go show! I would let Warwick get them ready for me and I’d hop on and go compete. It worked well for us for a long time. Warwick was the baker and I wanted that cake. I think Warwick wished that I would join him in the kitchen a little more and embrace the process, but I didn’t have the inclination or the time for that! I was working full time and I just wanted to go and compete and eat lots of cake!

It was only recently that I began to join him in the kitchen. I think it was a combination of hearing Warwick at clinics or in videos explaining things. I think it was all finally beginning to click for me. It didn’t hurt that I was working for him now and was being exposed to all the analogies, stories and successes. I was actually pretty motivated to get started! It was good timing too. I had a new horse that needed me to go backwards and through the entire process to fill in some holes – this was Sherlock.   Combined with the fact that Warwick was gone a lot, there was literally nobody else to do it, it was all on me.

It was frustrating at first because I thought I bought the cake and just needed to re-decorate it! I knew what Sherlock was capable of – he was an amazing reining horse. But, what kept him from his potential was the anxiety that he held onto. So, I had to go back and look in the bowl to see what ingredients I had and what he needed instead of just slapping some frosting on and calling it good!

I mention the cake analogy because Warwick likens the horse training process to baking a cake. So, let’s talk about it. What are the most basic ingredients you need to bake a cake? Google says: flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt and vanilla (I had to go to Google because I just buy the cake mix in a box if I’m going to bake a cake – you see a trend here?).

So, say that you didn’t have any flour and you wanted to make a cake. What do you have in your house that looks like flour? I have some hair coloring powder that looks a bit like flour. What if you used that instead of flour in your cake? I think you might die if you ate that cake.

What about if you used salt instead of sugar? I mean, I know that cravings are usually for sugar or salt, but they are not interchangeable! I really don’t think the cake would satisfy either if you used salt in the place of sugar.

What if the eggs were rotten or the milk was off? Not a very edible concoction.

Obviously, most of us have at least some of the ingredients that we need to bake a cake already in our pantry, but if we decide to try baking a cake without the right amount of good ingredients, then we are going to end up with an inedible, possibly dangerous cake.

We see this with horses a lot. Maybe someone wants a smoother lead change or to go out on a trail ride and they have not perfected the steps leading up to it (their good ingredients). Maybe they have gone through the motions of the steps, but have done all of them mediocre. Maybe they have skipped a few steps they didn’t think were that important. That would be like saying “I just used one rotten egg and some hair color”. Or “I only had ¼ of the flour so I just used that”.

Sherlock had the major ingredients. But, I think the eggs might have been rotten and a little too much salt was put in his recipe! I had to go in and scoop that sH*$ out of his bowl and replace it with good ingredients. And, if you think about that, it takes some time to get all of those rotten eggs and salt crystals out of the batter! After the tediousness of that process, I had a cake worth eating and putting frosting on (see Post Script).

The same goes with training your horse. You need to build a pantry of good ingredients with your horse! You need to teach the basic skills that are needed in order to build upon them or to fix a problem. This takes time and you need to embrace the process and the time it takes. Just a quick tip – it takes a lot less time if you assemble good ingredients all along the way and you don’t have to go back and scoop stuff out! When you do, you will have the most amazing cake that you have ever seen.

Warwick has some other analogies that he uses about the horse training process. One is called Assembling Your Horse’s Toolbox on youtube. Here is the link:

Thanks for reading.

As a post script to this – I went with the Sherlock cake that I had re-mixed for the entire year of 2016 and we ended up 3rd in the World in one of our divisions (certainly not a bad result!) But there was still something sour about it. He is the horse that had Warwick looking for answers that he didn’t have yet. We are so grateful to this little horse. For that reason, we spent all of 2017 letting his cake batter sit in the refrigerator, removing bits at a time and adding in good stuff (funnily enough there was a lot of sugar cubes involved). Warwick has just started to see if the new recipe is ready to put in the oven again or if it needs more ingredients. We look forward to seeing what happens!

Working with Sherlock in 2015 before we had an arena, Holden supervising.  Yes, I am wearing appropriate footwear!

Along for the ride: Cults, tribes & mean people!

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider. 

I think we can all agree that some horse people can be pretty mean. In fact, just today I was reminded of that when we were told there was some “Warwick Bashing” on a Facebook group (it actually turns out that one of the bashers was referring to Clinton and not Warwick – which is funny in retrospect).

I always feel good when I hear that the WSPH (Warwick Schiller Performance Horsemanship) Facebook group is someone’s favorite horsey group to be a part of because we don’t do MEAN or DRAMA. We are dedicated to being a supportive group with a common goal – a “tribe” as we often refer ourselves to.

There was a time that Warwick and I thought we had our once in a lifetime “tribe” of people. It was back in the early 2000’s when Warwick trained horses for the public. We had built up the coolest group of clients EVER. We did as much together as possible; celebrated birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and any other reason we could think of to get together and hang out. There were Saturday lessons, Tuesday wine & ride nights (back before I drank wine) and lots of horse shows! We gelled, we were friends, we were family. So, when Warwick decided to give it all up and go to work for one client exclusively it was a very difficult decision. We knew we were giving that up and we thought we would never have it again.

Don’t get me wrong, we did it for our immediate family. Tyler was still small and we wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, having more of a “normal” life where one of us could be home after school and have most weekends free. It all worked out great in that respect. It also made it better when we would see our tribe at the few horse shows we went to and notice that they were all still friends, even though some of them had gone different directions. It made us happy to know that we were a part of bringing these awesome human beings together and they were staying together.

But, to think that we could ever have it again – no way.

And then, it happened! We started building this video thing. Warwick started sharing what he knew on a broader stage. We decided early on to keep the Bull$#*% out of it and be very intentional about keeping drama, bad-mouthing and negativity far from anything we shared on social media and anything else that we put out there. (Not saying that we haven’t slipped every now and then and engage in conversations we shouldn’t. It’s hard to stay on the high road sometimes, but we keep reminding ourselves to.) We wanted to attract people with the same values and vibe. From the people I’ve met thus far, I’d say we are doing something right.

I haven’t travelled as far and wide as Warwick has, but for the most part, everyone I’ve met has felt like an old friend. Sure there are a few outliers, but with the numbers happening, that is to be expected. It dawned on me one day (I think it was in New Zealand recently) that we’ve got our “tribe” back together! It’s filled with different faces and a lot of different accents, but OMG it is totally happening again!

So, while we have had some people say our group is “cultish” as if it is a negative thing, I take it as a compliment. I just define Cultish to mean “A group of like-minded, positive, passionate horse people”. Further, we are a cult of nice, open-minded, forward thinking, empathetic, smart horse people who don’t need to tear someone else down to make ourselves feel better. We feel better by building others up, supporting their dreams, celebrating their accomplishments and encouraging them when they have a setback. That’s the cult I’m talking about. But I like the word ‘Tribe’ better and I love our tribe! Thanks for being a part of it!

Thanks for reading.


Along for the ride: CBT on a plane!

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, business woman and nationally competitive rider.

Learning to deal with anxiety is more important than trying to avoid it.

Warwick likes to tell the story about when I discovered Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in order to address my anxiety. He gets most of it right, but some of it is a bit exaggerated.

If you haven’t already heard the story, I’ll share that I’ve suffered with anxiety for pretty much my entire life (now that I know what it is, I know why I had to leave cheerleading camp when I was in high school!) I’ve been medicated for it, tried to exercise it away, seen therapists for it and have had my sister talk me down from it. For the most part, those things worked ok, but usually once I am in a panic attack, it is too late for anything to work. It wasn’t until two things came together that I got a handle on it.

The first thing was that I learned about breathing properly and focusing on my breathing as a way to relax myself. I’ve just recently heard it called Tactical Breathing. Then I learned about CBT from Dr. Laura (she has a radio program and writes books). I went through a phase of listening to her, because my nieces were having a hard time in life and I wanted to know how I could help them (that is a whole other story and the answer is tough love!). Dr. Laura had recommended CBT for someone who called in who had anxiety. So, I googled it! I read about it and then filed it away inside my head.

As these things have a way of doing, someone else brought up something they were doing, not calling it CBT, but explaining how she was getting mentally prepared for showing her horse. It was actually Petey’s old owner, Anna. She was doing this to get ready to show Petey! (Funny how things come around full circle, since we now own Petey.) Anyway, she explained that she would think about showing and get a little nervous and then breathe or I can’t remember what she would do, but she would get herself back to being relaxed. Then she would think about showing again and get anxious and then get herself relaxed. She would do this over and over and she said that it had helped her immensely.

I started practicing as Anna had and I’d use the breathing technique to get back to relaxed. It certainly helped the anxiety leading up to a horse show, but I had no idea how much it had prepared me for a plane trip in Canada.

I must explain that the full-blown panic attacks are always triggered by a physical feeling. Maybe it’s a weird pain or feeling in my body. That in turn triggers a thought and that triggers a feeling of fear. After the fear, it’s usually too late – the anxiety spiral is enacted. As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t enjoy flying very much. I am always sure I cheated death when the plane touches down.

So, we were on a plane trip in Canada. After Warwick went to sleep, I started feeling a little woozy/dizzy. I think it was the plane, it wasn’t really turbulence, but it was a small rhythmic bouncing that made me feel off. That triggered a thought of “Oh no, what if I get vertigo on this plane!” (I have had vertigo on and off for years). The fear hit and as I mentioned, that is when I usually cannot stop it. My thoughts just take over and usually I obsess about how many ways that I’m going to die from this feeling! This time was different. I started to practice my breathing. I did it for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably about 5 minutes. It actually worked! The breathing and concentrating only on the breathing kept the anxiety from escalating. I still felt a little woozy, but I didn’t have a full-blown panic attack as I would have usually had in the past!

Warwick talks about this story because using this same technique with the horses is a really good practice. We need to give our horses the experience of relaxation. We need to be their guide or teacher in this endeavor. The more that they can practice going from relaxed to a little stressed back to relaxed, the better they will be able to get themselves out of their own panic attacks.

This process is explained in more detail in many videos on our video library under the Principles of Training playlist. The second principle of “Don’t Go To Bed Angry” goes into greater detail.   It’s also available on Warwick’s Youtube video called “How to solve anxiety issues in horses”.

I think it’s one of the most important things we can teach our horses and actually a gift we can give to them. If you have ever had a panic attack or known anyone who has, you know that if you were able to give them the ANSWER to preventing one – it would be about the best gift ever! Warwick has given you that power in his videos – now you just have to give that gift to your horse!

Thanks for reading.

Along for the ride: How Much Worry Can Your Horse Handle?

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, business woman and nationally competitive rider.

People, like horses, are different in how much worry they can handle.  Warwick and I are total opposites just as some of our horses.  I’m the worry wart – I can worry about just about anything and I do.  To this day, I am still surprised when we are in an airplane and actually land.  I’m so invested in the worry that the plane will crash, that I feel physical relief when the tires touch down.  And then there is Warwick; asleep before we take off, waking up when they are putting the brakes and reverse thrusters on. I had someone tell me once (yes, it was a therapist) that because I worry and usually nothing comes of it, that this is just the way that I roll now.  It’s justifiable to worry because if I worry then nothing bad happens.  Of course, that actually just makes me worry when I don’t worry – if that makes any sense at all.

Anyway, a good way that Warwick explains worry and how much a horse can handle is through a story he calls 13 rabbits.

“I was at a clinic and had a participant say to me, “My horse is completely stupid!”  When I asked why, she said:

‘Well, I went for a ride on my horse the other day and a rabbit jumped out of the grass and it didn’t really bother my horse.  I rode a little farther and another rabbit jumped out of the grass and he looked at it but he didn’t appear bothered.  A little while later, another rabbit jumped out of the grass and again it didn’t bother him.  After about an hour, there must have been a total of 12 rabbits that had jumped out of the bushes and he really didn’t get too excited about them.  THEN!  The 13th rabbit jumped out of the bushes and when it did, my horse exploded!  He freaked out, bucked me off and ran home! He’d seen 12 rabbits already that day, so, he must just be stupid!’

After reassuring the person that her horse was not stupid, Warwick explained it to her this way: What happened was that when the horse saw the 1st rabbit, it caused a little bit of worry and the horse held onto that worry.  When he saw the 2nd rabbit, it caused a little bit more worry and he held on to that as well and so on and so forth.  After the 12th rabbit, the horse had accumulated a lot of worry.  Once that 13th rabbit came out, the horse could handle no more worry and the horse freaked out.  So, this horse could not handle more than 12 rabbits worth of worry!

Our job as horse owners is to help our horses get rid of the worry that the first rabbit causes.  In other words, we want them to be “rabbit free.” We can’t let the rabbits build up.  We do this through the principle of Don’t Go to Bed Angry.   When the horse gets a little anxious or worried, we take the time to get them back to (mentally and physically) relaxed.  By keeping the rabbits from accumulating, you are effectively taking care of any behavior that will result from anxiety or worry.  Warwick believes that most of the horse behaviors that we need to “fix” are caused from Anxiety.  We will have a whole lesson on this principle in our new online course that will be coming out in 2018 and there are tons of videos on the subscription that can teach you how to have a rabbit free horse.

I’ll talk more about anxiety (since it is probably my biggest hurdle) in my next blog called CBT on a plane!

Thanks for reading.


Along for The Ride; Being in the “Arena”

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, business woman and nationally competitive rider.

As it pertains to the philosophies, programs and principles Warwick teaches, I think the first time that it actually clicked as to what Warwick was forever going on and on about was in England in 2014.  It was our first trip there and he had a demo to do after his first day of clinics.  That night there was this rearing pony stallion.  As Warwick was talking, I remember thinking OH MY GOD!  I GET IT!  I can’t remember exactly what it was that finally made the tumbler fall, but I do remember feeling like slapping my forehead.

You might think that fact is ridiculous; that it took me so many years to finally get what Warwick was on about.  I lived with him, had worked with him and could hear the videos he was recording in the background every night for years.  But I wasn’t REALLY listening.  I had my own gig happening, I had a full-time job that I was trying to concentrate on and a teenage boy in high school.  Along with everything else being a working mom and wife entail – I had more demanding things to listen to.

Now that I’ve been working solely for Warwick for a couple years, Warwick keeps telling me that I have more to offer than being the silent “behind the scenes wizard”.  I think writing this blog is one way I can contribute.  I’m sure I’m like many of you.  I grew up a horse crazy kid (I was riding before I walked…that is me and my first pony Jack in the picture.  I think I was 3 or 4 years old and he was old enough to know better).  Now I’m “just” a horse-loving wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and employee.  And most of the time I feel like I’m doing a half-a$$ed job at all of them! I’ve always carried a little more weight than I should, I worry way too much (about anything and everything), I hate conflict, I’ve got anxiety and a fear of not being good enough.  Those are just a couple things you should know about me, so you might see similarities between yourself and me when you read the blogs.

My plan is to explain what Warwick teaches from my perspective and my stories and maybe it will help somebody along the way on their journey.

I promise my grammar will not be perfect.  I am pretty good at spelling  but just remember we live in the US so I don’t use “ou” and “s” as some of you may. I just want to get my point across, so please read the blogs with that in mind and forgive the improper use of Effect or Affect, as that is bound to happen.

I will admit to being a bit nervous about putting these blogs out there.  I’m not good at handling when people don’t like me.  And, to be honest, one of the only PM’s I got after announcing I was going to write this blog was someone telling me I was rude to them on the FB group and then promptly blocked me so I could not respond back.  I couldn’t 1. Figure out what she was talking about and 2. Apologize or explain after I knew.  I agonized for days over that single PM, it drained me.  But then I remembered Theodore Roosevelt’s quote about being in the Arena (I’ve got a blog about it). I thought, I am choosing to be in the arena and I’m not going to let one negative private message overpower the hundreds of positive responses to the announcement. As Brene Brown explains, “It’s easy & safe to hurl insults from the cheap seats at those in the arena.”

So, here I go, flying by the seat of my pants – welcome to “Along for the Ride” I hope that you enjoy it!

P.S. I couldn’t find the comment from the person who suggested the name for this blog – THANK YOU – obviously I love it!