“Firstly I’d just like to tell you what an impact you had on me at Equitana. I watched your demonstration on Friday and it brought tears to my eyes listening to your back ground. I have started riding as an adult so it isn’t after having children for me it’s that I just have always been scared.
When you mentioned that you felt lost and unsure of who you were anymore that really hit home for me and had a profound impact as it is exactly how I feel now, I have lost that connection with my horse and have found myself just being too busy to even spend time with them as it’s easier than recognising my fear.
I’ve even started to wonder why I have my horses as it just isn’t fun anymore.”
“I was one of the thousands in the stands at Equitana over the entire four days Nov 15th-18th 2012 held in Melbourne this year

I am sure this will most definitely not be the only email you get of this sort as a result of the inspiring sessions you held and I don’t think anything that I can tell you about myself will be something you haven’t heard before

I am really interested in doing an initial and most likely a follow up Confidence building clinic with you in 2013

So I braved it and  booked a week clinic down at Drysdale, not knowing what to expect. I would be with one other woman I know and was wondering how I would cope with other woman I didn't know (its just the tom boy in me I guess). One by one they arrived and we all started to really bond, as we arrived the Sunday we all went to the pub together for a meal and got to know each other more, we were having a great time, which would mean we would have an amazing week together. Oh we sure did that, we laughed, we cried, we all grew together and we all had each others back.

I went into this camp as I guess a nervous rider (well when it comes to my beautiful horse anyway). So day one was an absolute eye opener to me, I realised that I am able to say NO to people when they say just get on and ride, what are you scared of. I know that my journey will be controlled entirely by me and at my pace, if I spend the next three months connecting with my horse on the ground then so be it, I need my horse to be safe and he and I need to connect before we can continue our journey, not only did I realise my horse fears but my life fears, I need to have more faith in myself and I now know I am a very capable horse trainer.

Sandi is an amazing amazing lady who opens her heart and home to all that attend these clinics. The food was amazing and Holly and Leanne were so helpful through out the week, they did more than required for all of us. Such caring beautiful women. My horse loved it so much he has extended his holiday to spend some further time with the very kind David Simons, My journey is far from over and I can not stress enough.....ladies if you are lacking confidence be it in the saddle, on the ground or just in life, book a clinic, if its 2 days or 5 days you will greatly benefit. I walked away with such a clear head and an open mind. I cant wait to continue my training and attend more clinics with Sandi and her crew.

Penny Scicluna xx

Hi Sandi and David,

Its taken me a day or three to work out the best way for me to put how I feel about the Confidence Camp the I just completed. Now I feel I can do justice to you and what happened to Spirit and I.

Well its goes like this “I would not have missed my adventure for the world”. Nothing could of prepared me for the help, advice and training that I received.

It was a huge learning curve for both Spirit and myself. Both of us are now so much further ahead than I ever imagined. And to top it off I met 6 other great ladies whom I did the camp with. To them I am indebted, for the encouragement and support I am forever grateful.

Cheers

Julie Maree

Camp 3

The amazing teamwork and training of David and Sandi Simons has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

Seven years ago I had a very bad fall from a horse that left me with no confidence and no horse. Then, on a purely emotional decision, I bought a young horse that of course I couldn’t ride because he was green and I was scared. So for 5 years he sat in the paddock and I sat in the house and gazed out at him and dreamed of riding.

But this year I decided to do something about it, so took both of us to David and Sandi for help. Sandi, you (and your wonder horse, Bentley) showed me the kindness and patience I needed to get back in the saddle. You taught me that riding could be fun again and that a horse gal who didn’t ride anymore was only living half a life.

With grateful thanks,
Colleen Lethbridge.

To whom it may concern,
RE: Australian Story –Sandi Simons.

I think the three biggest reasons as to why Sandi would make a compelling Australia Story Eposide are:

She is the embodiment of the ‘Australian Spirit’. She has faced advertisy and tackled it head on. She has been at rock bottom and found personal strength to get her through. She could have easily kept this journey to herself instead she has shared her experiences openly, honestly and good humour with women all across Australia.

She helps women – women are complex and their own worst enemies. However Sandi knows women – knows how they think and why they think the way that they do as she has been there herself and because she just takes time to listen to people. Sandi never judges and never says no to anyone person needing help. Her world might be in turmoil but if your having a ‘bad day’ and struggling with getting on a horse or just struggling with your day and call her she is there for you. She cares about what you are going though and provides frank and supportive advice or just an ear for a vent. She isn’t just a coach who teaches you the skills and leaves she coaches you and is interested in how you go and becomes your friend.

She gives so much of herself unconditionally with no thanks expected. She inspires women to take control of their lives using horses.

Kind Regards,
Alana Morrissey-Smith

And here is my “Dear Sandi” Letter!!

When I booked into the camp I was looking forward to a week away where I didn’t have to cook, clean, think about anyone else, worry about work. And I got to take one of my 4 legged mates with me. So it was already looking pretty good… As I have done different “Natural Horsemanship” type clinics in the past I thought I had a fair idea of what sort of things we would be doing.. I took along a 13.3 hh pony that I had bought for my eldest (12yo) daughter earlier this year.

Let me paint a picture for you, I learnt to ride as an adult (before children). Did lots of “traditional” riding lessons, discovered “Natural Horsemanship” in one of it’s franchised forms… Pursued this direction although there seemed to be holes in the fabric of it. Plodded along with varying results.

Jan

In all seriousness, this time last week I was about to go to bed with a slightly panicky, sickening and yet excited feeling in my stomach. I woke up four hours later and didn’t go back to sleep. As the time came to get on the ferry and commit to the week, I was almost numb with anxiety. Questions like ‘Do I really want to do this?’ ‘What if I come off again?’ ‘Am I being selfish, after all, there is more to life than riding.’ ‘Perhaps I should go and look at those Welsh weanlings around the corner and just opt for showing ponies in hand, nothing too big, just an interest.’

Then I arrived and Carol’s sweet cheerful face greeted me and I felt a little better. The rest of the week unfolded and as I said on Friday, I had the time of my life. The best week of my life! The door has been opened, the light shines brightly. I went out to dinner with other horsey friends from that ‘other life’ last night and having what I learnt this last week still clearly in my mind I heard all their familiar stories of shying, pigrooting badly behaved horses that were all having excuses made for them and the feeling was that it was perfectly OK for their horses to be like this. After all the most important thing is to get on them and ‘Ride them through it” !?!’

I know I have had a glimpse of something special, the missing link for all my years with horses. I feel at peace with myself at many different levels not just in relation to my horses but in other aspects as well. I know I do not have to put myself in this position again of riding a horse through anything. There is no pressure, it is up to me. When I am ready not when other people tell me I am ready. I know the horse or horses will tell me and when something does go wrong I am building a solid foundation on the ground with my horse to know how to deal with it, circumnavigate it or diffuse it altogether before it even starts. Oh what a relief! What a long overdue blessed relief!

Felicity

I met a remarkable woman early in 2006. Her name is Sandi Simons. Sometimes we are fortunate to cross paths with someone who will touch our lives in a most definitive way, Sandi has certainly done that for hundreds of women around Australia and overseas – I have been fortunate enough to be one of them.

I thought as I am sure many other women have that I was going to a Confidence Clinic to help me overcome the issues I had with riding. I t was a bizarre concept to anyone that was an observer of my life – I was surrounded by and handled and rode horses all of my life so why would I have a confidence issue that brought me to Sandi’s door? I sure thought it was about the horse/riding issue as I am sure all the other women that Sandi helps do as well.

But Sandi knew and knows better because she herself has been there. She knew that our confidence issues with riding were merely a reflection of our confidence issues as women. And no this is not some sort of feminist, male bashing exercise it is simply a fact of many women’s lives as they head towards middle age mostly and their lives of being mothers, wives, caregivers and workers change direction and dimension. The roles by which many women define themselves shift as families and relationships grow older and move towards independence or move apart. What women have been doing for years is no longer required within their families and so many women are made redundant in a sense and are at a loss. Confidence in that loss of identity is apparent to someone as insightful as Sandi and through her Confidence Clinics she carefully nurtures, challenges and guides women to deal with these issues using their horse as a tool or a mediator to discover more about themselves and the transitions they are making from one stage of their lives to another. Sandi can often be heard saying that a person’s horse and its behavior is merely a reflection of what is going on in that particular persons life at the moment. If you are feeling nervous and anxious, so too will your horse. If you are feeling agitated and aggressive the horse will be too. etc. etc.

Sandi is straight talking, takes no bull from anyone, compassionate, sympathetic, driven and even though she won’t like me saying this, a big softie underneath it all! As a life coach, and yes, that is really what she is although many would call her a horsewoman or a riding instructor she walks the walk and talks the talk – there is nothing contrived nor manufactured about this gal! What you see is what you get and I love her for that.

She has been a single mum with three small children, she has moved her young family and her whole life from Victoria to the Northern Territory to follow her ‘cowboy’ (now husband David) and had two more children along the way! A mother of five with all that entails physically, mentally and emotionally she still has a heart big enough to take on and help other people when they are at their lowest ebb. One of Sandi’s dearest friends lost everything in the Black Saturday Fires in 2009 – she and her husband and two sons lost their home, their businesses everything. Within a day Sandi had rallied around and organised for trailer load after trailer load of goods- furniture, food, clothes, farming equipment etc. etc. to be delivered by her and a bunch of other volunteers. Week after week month after month she made sure that she was their for them. She is always there for all who have had the honour to be able to call her a friend - that’s the kind of person she is.

I think the story of Sandi Sinons life is a complex and fascinating one and one that not just horsey people but people would be able to relate to from all walks of life.. It would make a compelling and inspirational episode of “Australian Story”. Sandi is the quintessential great Aussie Sheila – hard working, will give anything a go, a larrikin sense of humour, generous and kind hearted - her door is always open and the kettle is always on!

I am so pleased that I picked up my phone and made that call to join in one of Sandi’s Clinics – she has changed my life in the most positive way imaginable.

Felicity Wischer

Early in 2009 I had a niggling urge to contact a lady named Sandi Simons, who I’d heard ran Confidence Clinics for women with horses. I had watched her husband, David, run a training clinic in Horsham a few years earlier and was very impressed with his methods. Sandi had accompanied David for his clinic and I was very impressed with the way she interacted with the people – she had an amazing vibe. Fast forward a few years later and I had found myself lucky enough to be able to have my own horse again, and my teenage daughter did also. We both love our horses, but lacked confidence – I felt the clinic would be a terrific thing we could do together. Little did I know the profound effect it would have on me.

I must say, I was a little intimidated at the thought of contacting Sandi… she and David are quite famous amongst the horsey world! It is not in my nature to organise things like this clinic – I am definitely an Indian, not a Chief. As soon as I spoke with Sandi, however, I realised my reservations were completely unfounded. I had thought we wouldn’t have a hope of getting someone like Sandi to a tiny little place like Nhill, some 4 ½ hours west of Melbourne. But Sandi was more than happy to come, so after a bit of manouvering we found a suitable date and we were off and running. I rustled up a gathering of 14 participants, a mixture of close friends and their daughters and some friends of friends who we all enjoyed getting to know. We were a broad gammitt of women from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. The one thing we had in common was our love of horses and a desire to improve our confidence, enabling us to enhance our relationship with our horses. That’s where my expectations stopped, if I had come away from the clinic with a higher level of confidence and a better relationship with my horse I would have been content … I came away with that, of course, but came away with so much more.

Natalie Sampson

Nhill, Victoria