Ceri D. - organiser of Aspire's clinics at Lindrick Livery, Yorks.
North Yorkshire, UK
Wiola's approach to teaching is totally unlike anything I've come across (although I wish I'd come across it much sooner).
The combination of her own riding experiences and the dedication she has shown in developing her coaching skills have allowed her to tell you not only what to do but how to do it!
Wiola has managed to explain to me, in just a few lessons, things I have been trying (and failing) to understand in over 25 years of riding and working with horses. Her approach to riding is to put the rider in the best position and balance to enable the horse to work correctly underneath them.
On top of her coaching brilliance, she is also able to make it all fun! Can't recommend her highly enough!
I started riding with Wiola because of her classical training and her thoughtful approach. I travel to her from southeast London and we have scampered through Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire in the quest to turn me into a rider.
It would be fair to say there is some way to go, but many changes have occurred in the past few months. Wiola is a marvellous teacher and her patience in the face of my inability to retain simple information is saintly. She has such an intelligent approach and incredible analytical skills.
She is also very good at walking backwards, as she is camerawoman too!
I am proud to say that Wiola Grabowska has patiently taught even just a small part of her vast knowledge of horsemanship with me.
Lessons with Aspire Academy never fail to disappoint and go far beyond the general physical skill of riding. Wiola takes a complete approach regarding her teaching, constantly educating and pushing her students to become better horsemen. The different exercises, both on and off horseback provide a clear teaching method which effectively eliminates any confusion between horse, rider and teacher.
Wiola always teaches with a broad understanding of the physical and mental dynamics of both the horse and rider in mind and urges her students to find a way in which a horse, even if it is not in good condition, can work both correctly and comfortably.
It has been an honour to train with Wiola and I hope to keep learning the important lessons which she teaches about this sport which we both love.
Maria Fjellman - organiser of Aspire's clinics in Norway
We have had the pleasure of having Wiola over to Norway for four intensive training weekends since 2011. Full day training incl theory, ridden and in-hand work, video analysis on the work we have done, and a summary with training tips to continue with after the weekend.
Wiola always comes well prepared and gives her best to every participant, no matter at what level the rider/horse is at.
She is knowledgeable, ambitious and always positive. She is really a coach, i. e. sets goals together with you for both you as a rider and for the horse - something I quite often miss with other trainers.
I can highly recommend Wiola and Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy.
Oh how I wish I had found Wiola years ago.
For many years, I have wanted to find an instructor who would focus on improving my riding, rather than just on the horse. At last I have found one, Wiola. I cannot thank her enough for her patience, commitment and shear enthusiasm and energy she has for teaching.
Being a mature rider, it is pretty challenging to change many years of riding unbalanced, crooked and being totally unaware of just how much the riders body influences the horse.
I love her teaching methods, which are fun, thorough and easy to understand. My riding is improving and my confidence has gone through the roof as a direct result. Even after our first lesson, the difference in my position was clear to see in the video feedback.
I compete at Unaffiliated Prelim and Novice level dressage. Since having lessons with Wiola, my rider mark has improved considerably. Prior to Wiola, the highest I could achieve was a 6, now I am receiving 7, 7.5 and even 8 for my rider mark, which I am over the moon about.
I highly recommend Wiola and her teaching methods, from complete beginner to accomplished rider, there will always be something we can improve on. The better the rider, the better the horse. Don’t delay, book a lesson today as you will be so glad you did, it was the best thing I ever did.
I couldn't recommend Wiola more as an instructor!
Wiola's detailed eye and range of (on and off horse) exercises allows you to understand yourself and the horse your riding like never before. Wiola has taught me so much about my own body mechanics and riding position, as well as learning how to understand different horse's strengths and weaknesses, to work together to get the best from both horse and rider.
Wiola is so passionate about her work and teaching, and her breadth of knowledge about horse and rider is staggering and shows in every lesson with so much care for both. The improvement of my riding and understanding of both my body and the horse's biomechanics is amazing (and very visible in my video's of my lessons with Wiola). To top it off, the lessons are always fun, inspirational and leave you wanting to learn more and more!
All I can say is start now, you won't regret it!
West Sussex, UK
From Becky's blog:
"Frustrated with my lack of progress at the local riding school, I booked an intensive weekend of lessons with Wiola of Aspire Academy. Last weekend, she finally got a chance to look at my riding, rather than reading about it, and tried to help me improve it.
Over two days I rode three different horses – four if you count the simulator – and managed to clock up more hours in the saddle over that period of time than I have in months. I knew my body was in for a shock, given that I’m pretty unfit and my position needed a lot of work, but I tried my best to ignore the fact that various muscles were being painfully reawakened and make the most of it....[...]"
To read the rest and find out how Becky found Aspire training visit:
Once our daughter decided she wanted to re-start riding lessons, we knew we wanted an holistic approach so that she understood just what being a horse-rider meant.
We found Wiola through an internet search and can only say how absolutely amazed we have been since Caitlin started with her. Wiola's individual teaching, on balance, posture, understanding the rhythms of the horse have made such a vast improvement to her riding that it's hard to put into words.
The ability to break down the lessons into understandable segments, the interactive way she teaches, and the encouragement and enthusiasm that Wiola imparts into every single session make them a joy. Her willingness to try new things, seek out new experiences and horses, means that Caitlin's enthusiasm never waivers between lessons.
The difference between Wiola's coaching and standard riding school instruction is even more apparent when Caitlin attends the Helper's Lesson at the local riding school. Her balance and posture is far more advanced than many of the other children who have been riding for far longer than she has. The best decision we could have ever made for Caitlin’s riding career was to sign up with Wiola.
I enjoy Wiola's holistic approach where she endeavours to improve the rider in order to positively influence the horse.
Learning with Wiola is a journey with lots of fun and adventures along the way. I recommend it!
I’ve been having regular lessons with Wiola for 3 months now and I have found her to be the most efficient and professional instructor I’ve encountered in over 20 years of riding. She has great technical knowledge, being able to effectively explain horse/rider biomechanics and the reasons behind the exercises that she sets. Her approach is to work in harmony with the horse, without quick fixes or gadgets. I knew she was the right instructor for me a couple of sessions in, when she mentioned that Manolo Mendez was one of her inspirations!
In particular, I have found that she has helped me to develop a more effective position and as a result I am now more able to address the long standing training problems I have had with my horse. Her holistic approach using a dressage simulator, on the ground exercises and ridden work has made a massive improvement to my seat. I have also enjoyed learning more about in hand schooling, which has been invaluable in re-balancing my horse after an old injury had made him rather crooked. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Wiola to someone who is looking to discover a kinder, more effective, results focussed way of riding.
Kylie de Jager
London, UK & Cape Town, SA
Wiola's lessons taught me to think of riding as both an art form and a science. She helped me to better understand the nuances of how I was using my body (balance, position, core) and how this related to the horse, not only the instructions he was receiving from me, but also whether my own movements were complimenting or hindering the flow and balance of his movements.
I found the video feedback especially informative as it gave me a different perspective on my riding, that reinforced what I had learnt during the lessons.
Not only does Wiola have a wealth of knowledge to share but her intensive training day I attented was an awesome way to spend an entire day with horses. If only I could do it more often!
"Wiola started working with my horse and me a few weeks after I had bought her.
The thing I love most about Wiola's teaching is that she looks at the horse and rider as a whole and explained the reason for every exercise we were doing.
She focused not only on my horses muscle development and relaxation but also on my position and confidence. I have learnt so much already and I am excited to keep learning more and more. I completely trust Wiola's teaching and advice and know she is giving me the best information from her wealth of knowledge and experience in the horse world"
Before I started regularly training with Wiola I could ride in that I could make a horse stop and go but she taught me how to really ride using my core, balance and feel. The improvement in my ability and confidence was immense. Wiola gives you lots of great tips and techniques but most importantly builds a rock solid foundation for you to progress from.
The lessons are such fun and you come away from each session knowing that your knowledge and ability have improved. I cannot recommend her enough.
I can’t recommend Wiola enough, no matter what kind (or level) of rider you are! I had a chance to ride in and audit several of her clinics and saw her helping a wide variety of extremely different riders and horses (competition riders, hackers, Western riders, hunters, etc.). She can help you deal with all sorts of problems and achieve whatever goals you have, be it rider stability (if you just want to feel free and safe when hacking, hunting or galloping on the beach), seat (many of us dream of that perfect lower leg position or gentle hands), schooling and re-schooling horses (young, ex-riding school horses, etc) and improve competition results.
She will also instill correct fundamentals that will not only help you reach your goals, no matter what they are but will also minimize the chances of “getting stuck” (which happens to most of us way too often..)...
The best part is that Wiola’s lessons are extremely horse friendly, very interesting, innovative, entertaining and enthusiastic. She is literally obsessed by what she does, so she’s a real find for inquisitive equestrians: you can ask her any questions and will get logical and well presented (or even illustrated!) answers! If you haven’t ridden with her, don’t hesitate to give it ago! I can assure that this will be one of the best decisions in your riding life!
Wiola has a fantastic approach to teaching and making sure you actually understand what she is explaining rather than nodding along.
Coupled with a strong eye for detail she is a great confidence giver as well as making sure you are using the correct techniques in which ever discipline.
One of the best riding instructors I have ever encountered who took my riding skills up several levels. Every lesson I came away feeling like I had learned something new. It was a privilege to have had her teach me.
"I've learnt so much during my first Aspire Equestrian Virtual Coaching programme. The videos and your feedback made me more aware of how I affect Chagall's behaviour and made me understand that in many cases the fault lies with the rider and not the horse.
It has been inspiring.
I would like to sign up for another month when I finish my exams in June. Then I will have more time and in the meantime I can continue with the exercises you have given me as I still have a lot to work with here"
"Thoroughly enjoyed my two intensive training days earlier this year, Wiola spotted my weaknesses in the saddle and gave me some exercises to help strengthen my position. Very motivating sessions, thank you!
Well it looks like I have come to the end of our 2 week virtual training with you! I cannot even express what a fantastic and wonderful experience it has been for us!
My trainer here in California is focused purely on show performance, so it was very valuable to me to be able to ask you detailed questions about Bentley’s health, hooves, movement, personality, etc. without being concerned that it would annoy you. I have been so impressed with your knowledge of horse and human biomechanics, and I have been sharing your insights with everyone.
I think that working with you at this time has been particularly valuable with a new horse. I have gotten to know him well enough to be able to share our training issues, but I am also at the beginning stages of creating a long and short-term plan for his well-being and his performance. Your insights helped me craft those plans.
I have saved all of your insights and exercises in a file and I will continue to go back to them and review them; I also plan on continuing to videotape.
I was very happy with his performance at the show this past weekend! We did not do well enough to get a ribbon (he was actually too mellow in the show ring – I wouldn’t have expected that!), but he was so obedient and thoughtful and willing to please. I know with a solid foundation we will improve by leaps and bounds.
While I loved all of your instruction, some of the things that stand out the most were:
1. Help getting his hooves on track (particularly your diagram drawn on his hoof photo)
2. Working in hand/ watching the youtube videos/ your still clips of when I was doing it right or wrong
3. Addressing issues of Bentley’s right side, including still clips with diagrams of his hind leg movement, seeing the tightness in my right hip flexor and pointing out I collapse on my right side, and discussing his lack of straightness in backing up
I still need to accomplish some of the tasks you gave me, such as longeing exercises and seeing my chiro for my body alignment/ hip flexors. And I am also excited to continue working on straightness, in hand work, and transition work (that helped him so much!).
I would love to check in with you in 3-6 months to give you a progress report and hopefully sign up for another evaluation period with you at that time. (And I do have a Pilates ball at home, so I would love to see the exercises you have in mind!)
I am so fortunate to have won the Hay-Net contest, and I look forward to reading your helpful blog posts and going through your resource library. I will continue to refer as many people as possible your way.
Thank you for your attentiveness and expertise these past two week- you have helped Bentley and I set out on a path for great success together!
“One word: inspiring. I learnt a lot, and to really reflect on what I am doing at every single moment, how even the smallest thing affect my horse and how to ride him more effectively”
The programme has given me a new perspective and for sure made me work harder.
I would really like to sign up for another month to continue improving with my horse, Panache."
The only complaint I have about Wiola is she is not based closer to where I live! Wiola is the best instructor I have ever had and her knowledge of rider and equine biomechanics is excellent. As well as helping me to improve my riding she has also taught me a great deal about training horses and truly understanding why they move the way they do and have so called evasions.. I hope Wiola represents a vision of the future where the standard of riding instruction is greatly raised from the kick and pull culture which seems so common in this day and age.