It is with deep sadness that we note the passing of an extraordinary woman, a dear friend and mentor, Mrs. Molly Sivewright, FBHS, DBHS. She touched so many lives, human and equine. This brushes the sadness aside to allow gratitude to take its place. Though I am certain my voice is one among many thousands to express my condolences, it is important for me to acknowledge the early teaching she so generously gave to me.
Early in my riding career I was a little misdirected in my goals. I wanted to be as good a rider, technically, as I could be. I developed tricks to train horses better and more quickly (I thought), but the results were temporary. Then one morning I was given a special horse to ride, a beautiful and refined mare named Golden Celadon.
For two weeks it was a complete disaster. There was no mental communication between us, nor could I take physical hold of her. I used all my tricks, one by one, with no success. Her mind was on everything, everywhere, but not with me.
After a long period, Mrs. Sivewright (whom I was sure had been watching every failure of mine) asked if I wanted some help. YES! I replied. She said, simply, “walk around the fields and listen to the birds.” This made me a little angry, but I would have done anything at this point, so off I went.
The fields were large, but Mrs. Sivewright made certain I went around twice, listening to the birds. The mare’s walk was much calmer than before. And after a time she said “for whatever you want, just ask politely”. The mare and I quickly bonded and she led me to many more discoveries.
This set the stage for all the understanding and growth I would access later in Portugal with Mestre Oliveira. But Mrs. Sivewright was the first person to speak to me about another way of riding, a clearer, non ego-based riding. A riding based on calm, polite, mental communication. I have never forgotten those lessons and they helped form the base of much of my riding philosophy. I will be eternally grateful.