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Ride in Cyprus: An Interview with Caroline Penman

07/10/2014 - by Admin
It is not often that one encounters an establishment like Ride in Cyprus where the horses that are stabled there play such a pivotal role not only in terms of trekking but also as teachers for people learning about leadership, team building or even personal development training.  This is why we wanted to speak with the person who was responsible for setting up the stables, Caroline Penman, and find out how her love for horses translated into what Ride in Cyprus has become.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Caroline Penman?

Caroline Penman is a passionate individual with a mission! She travelled the world for 25 years as an ‘Army Wife’ and has always had horses around her - in the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Cyprus. She lived in Cyprus from 2002-2005, organising her first 6 day trek through the mountains in 2004 then to Cyprus permanently in 2007, building the stables in 2008.  It is a dream come true for her to enable others to ride across this beautiful countryside, she and the herd have the best office in the world! Caroline is a fully qualified member of the European Association for Horse Assisted Education and she enjoys working with the herd where they are the teachers for humans learning Leadership, Team Building and Personal Development Training.

2. When was Ride in Cyprus established and how does it differ from other horse riding schools on the island?

Ride in Cyprus Ltd was founded in 2007 to bring people to enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the mountains and plains, meandering through abandoned Turkish Cypriot villages and forest tracks. Longer and overnight treks add to the adventure and little time is spent in the school, clients learn as they go and the pace is tempered to suit their ability and needs!  The horses live out as a herd and have a large field with stable doors open for shelter and water. There is no club or membership – casual rides focusing on the relationship with the horse and correct balance enjoying the scenery.... and having fun!

3. You are a fully qualified member of the European Association for Horse Assisted Education. Please elaborate as to what Horse Assisted Education is.

Horse Assisted Education is a powerful experiential approach for developing aligned personal skills by working in partnership with horses.  You try out your skills with a large powerful horse to do simple tasks – the horse is looking for leadership every step of the way and you quickly find out how to become an effective leader, you will be amazed at how instant and accurate the feedback is – guaranteed.  Horse Assisted Team Building is a unique and powerful experiential team event working with horses where you will experience positive change in your teams by an understanding and appreciation of the unique skills of each team member.  Team members actually work together in challenging situations, not roleplaying and pretend. They learn how to engage with the whole team more effectively and leave with a clear vision on how to work together which contributes to their feeling part of a cohesive, high performance team.  So we focus on how and who you are in the team, clarity of purpose, awareness, belief in self and others, confidence and the importance and dynamics within the team.

4. What is the philosophy behind using horse assisted learning with disabled children?

Horse Assisted Education is very different from Riding for the Disabled.  It is about relationship and personal development. Autistic spectrum children and adults are especially affected by the relationship they can forge with a horse.  The horse is non-judgemental, keys into the child’s ‘inner light’ in an empathetic way and so brings some calm and peace to the child where they can find a stillness.  From this still point, they can develop their skills at their pace with their friend guiding them every step of the way :-)

5. Is this type of learning supported by the medical or psychiatric profession in Cyprus?

No, there is much more focus on suppressing the symptoms (which our society sees as so inconvenient!) with drugs. We have much to learn about holistic care here in Cyprus :-)

6. Please explain the role that your horses play in the Leadership, Team Building and Personal Development Training that you offer.

Horses are extremely canny herd animals that respond well to good congruent leadership and instinctively, but very passively challenge weak leadership.  They do not have a personal agenda, they just respond to who you are and how you are at any moment.  Human to human communication is 93% nonverbal, yet most education and training centres concentrate on the remaining 7% - words!  As you learn to lead a horse without words (and without force, or eventually, any rope...) you are developing the neglected 93%.

7. Ride in Cyprus arranges a variety of different treks that one can go on, on horseback.  Do you think that many of your clientele have been surprised by the extensive natural beauty that Cyprus has and that they get to discover on the treks?

Comments such as “This isn’t Cyprus, this is some paradise place!” are usual – people tell me it’s so good it should be illegal!   We trek through the forest and across plains through deserted Turkish Cypriot villages and picnic amongst the trees – there are no fences, the views are breath-taking and the horses are the best team in the world!

8. Ride in Cyprus is inadvertently promoting agrotourism in Cyprus through the treks that you offer and take people on.  Do you think enough is being done by organisations like the CTO to promote agroutourism here?

No not nearly enough, especially as Tourism has suddenly become the most valuable asset Cyprus has!  Yes, Ride in Cyprus brings many people from overseas especially to ride and I have many ideas to promote experiences in the forest and mountains, but every enquiry is a hurdle of bureaucracy! (So I’m looking for sponsors!) Some individuals within the organisation are excellent, of course, but the CTO is often described as “The Wolf with no teeth” – no member of their organisation has ever visited Ride in Cyprus in 7 years even though we have been Number 1 on Trip Advisor for three years!   So many people who would otherwise not have discovered this part of Cyprus now only come here and more and more plan to settle here.

9. Is horse-riding popular in Cyprus? Are your customers predominantly Cypriot or do you cater to the tourists more?

’Riding’ Cypriots seem to get involved in club and competition riding which is mainly confined to the arena.  Some, who have often been abroad, know the joy of riding outside, but over 95% of my clients are tourists or Ex-Pats and I’m impressed by the number of tourists who will bring the entire family from Paphos for a ride which starts at 6am in August!  Local people love to come and see the horses but have to be encouraged to relax, get out of the car, breathe and meet the horses in quietness...... They all say they love horses, but many have a big problem when it comes to animal welfare. A beautiful colt who was introduced to me as ‘dangerous’ (turned out to be the owner who had a dangerous attitude ... a primary school teacher!!) and became the most wonderful part of the team here was taken back from his time with us, promising he would be in a field within 5 days and has been tied to a tree ever since – it’s a typical and heart-breaking situation :-(

Ride In Cyprus
Lysos Village, Paphos, Cyprus
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  • 13/03/2014 - by Sacha Appleton

    If you remember it’s a story about a normal guy taking on a giant, a great lesson, but for the purposes of this article, I’m more interested in the weapon he used – a sling. – and how it can improve your swing.

    Whenever you’re coaching, you have to choose carefully the words you use to describe how to hit a ball. You don’t push it, but you also don’t just slap it.  You stay with it for a distance and then it flies off and your racquet continues its arc or follow though.  It’s important for the pupil to be able to visualise what they are aiming for and the closest analogy I can think of is a sling.

    With a sling, there are two ends held together and the stone, or other projectile, is held in the centre. It is swung in an arc and at some point the other end is released with the stone being flung out at a target. The sling continues on its arc for a distance afterwards. It is a flowing movement (no pauses in the racquets trajectory and always moving in arc, no linear movement). You certainly don’t push or slap the stone.

    If you imagine you’re racquet as the sling and feel your racquet as if it is part of your hand, you can watch the ball coming towards you.  You can imagine the ball pushing your racquet back and then, using the racquet to gather up the ball, fling the ball off in the direction you wish it to go, like a sling, and allow the racquet to continue its path.  By visualising the path of your shot and feeling your racquet make the trajectory, you will hit the ball in a similar way to a sling.  The result?  A smooth stroke that is pretty good.

    It’s not something you will read in a book (at least not one I’ve read), but I’ve tried it out and my opponents have commented on how good my swing was and, most importantly, my consistency improve.  So, try it out and let me know what you think.

    David Beats Goliath Every Time!

  • 01/03/2014 - by Caroline Penman

    Horses are perfect mirrors showing us where our strengths are as leaders, as we are all leaders, even if it is only of ourselves.

    Three doctors, a mathematician, mum, architect and a PsychoTheRapist, (better jointhosewordstogether!!), tried some leadership training with a difference last month. Saddled with their life’s experiences they partnered a herd of horses to help them explore outside their ‘comfort zone’ of ‘normal’ life and into a new zone of learning with the instant feedback you can only get from a horse!

    The day began with watching the herd and learning about ‘herd dynamics’ with all the hilarious comments from the participants about people they knew being which horse! It was interesting to see what can be learned from the horses’ behaviour and how it can be transferred to our everyday lives. The ancient Greeks recognised the horse as having the innate ability to be able to communicate so completely and powerfully without words, Alogo, Greek for ‘horse’.  You know exactly where you are and who you are with a horse ...the feedback is instant ... they see right through to the heart of you – they respond to congruent leadership ... no need for  words ... no need for force.

    Most of the group had never touched a horse before, but quickly learned that there was no need for fear either – they found that a horse will love you unconditionally, so long as you are authentic!  Harry, the architect exclaimed, “There is no other way to test yourself without fear of failure.”   So empowering, so inspiring, so interesting!  And what we all enjoy about working with the horses is that you find out for yourself, there’s no finger pointing, no `I told you so!!!‘  Just lots of `Cor blimey, what about that!!!‘

    To introduce our group to the horses, everyone learned how to approach, touch, ‘breathe with’ and lead a horse in safety and so without fear. Those who began by saying “It will never come with me” found that to be true ... but by simply stating their positive intent and saying, “I am going to lead this horse around those cones” found it to be delightfully easy ... and with a loose rein!  After a lively lunch flowing with discussion, questions and exchanges, the group again chose which horse they wanted to work with to explore more situations, finding more and more that they could change their leadership style to suit what they were doing and together with any of the horses, find their own solutions.

    One particular exercise involved individuals ‘joining up’ with their chosen horse.  Neil, one of the doctors who is studying ‘Wilderness therapy’ and working with disadvantaged adolescents, chose to join up with Bobby, who was a rescue horse and the new boy to the herd.  Neil said he identified with Bobby and found it disarmingly powerful when the horse came to him and unquestioningly followed him wherever he went; he was surprised to be deeply moved to tears of happiness.  It is unbelievable how you feel when you discover how stunningly you can communicate without words!  Everyone went away having developed at least some of “the neglected 93%” which all the leadership training in the world will tell you is the missing and vital and most effective ... non verbal communication percentage!

    The course is about people, not horses - the horses are the teachers – they work with people so they can experience the magnificence which is within them. Working outside helps people reconnect with natural elements – it is “rediscovery” work.  It is about trust and openness.

    By Caroline Penman                        
    (+357) 99 777 624

    Connect with Horses – Connect with People

  • 20/02/2014 - by Caroline Grossmith

    It is difficult not to become disillusioned and unmotivated or sometimes search out substitutes for meaningful experiences; unless you can find that ‘meaning’.  Sometimes you go and choose a substitute which is unhealthy or destructive or start to just go through the motions and become ‘human doings’ instead of ‘human beings’. Have you ever felt stressed or even like giving up on life in those times when you feel life has no meaning?

    The path to self-discovery and meaning must start within.  To develop our own leadership skills and qualities we need to go inward and allow reflection – be still, turn off and mute.  Listen and observe.

    Horses are always mute and always listening.  As herd animals they need to effectively communicate non-verbally and being prey animals their ‘flight’ instinct is vital for their survival. These two inherent qualities become instant mirrors and non-judgemental feedback mechanisms for humans!  Horses are great educators and wise mentors because they sense and respond to a person’s intentions, emotions and thoughts conveyed subconsciously through the most subtle of body language. In fact they really are able to read your thoughts. Through the experience of observing a horse’s response to their requests and directions, each person learns how to communicate more effectively, face their fears and manage their emotions, becoming more consistent and congruent with their actions.

    Through observation of herd dynamics and one-on-one interaction with individual horses, Horse Assisted Education participants also learn new relationship building skills. A tremendous confidence boost comes from learning how to connect with and direct a 600kg animal while standing on the ground. Sessions with horses are highly interactive and provide an ‘in the moment’ learning experience, teaching skills which can be difficult to acquire in more traditional settings.

    When you take part, you will notice that the same horse, in the same place, doing the same exercise ...... may react totally differently with each person.... why?? If you ask each person what they were thinking when performing the exercise ...... all is revealed! If each person then adjusts their intent it is fascinating to see how the horse adjusts also. So you learn how important your intent and your body language are in achieving what you set out to do.

    Anyone who is interested in personal development, facing taking on new challenges, perhaps on a voyage of self-discovery or wanting to explore their own potential in work, play or creativity, benefits from Horse Assisted Education. Organisations needing a new approach to a business challenge..... maybe they have a big decision ahead and want their team pulling together, have issues undermining team performance or inter-departmental co-operation, unacceptable absenteeism levels or simply want some innovative management training to improve leadership skills, will benefit too. - Caroline Penman 99777624

    Things That Make You Go Hmmm! Horse Assisted Education.

  • 27/01/2014 - by Sacha Appleton

    Uh? You might ask, but Paphos Tennis Coaching took on a whole new meaning this Saturday morning.

    The regular Freedom Class (women's class) is always fun at the Ascos Hotel in Coral Bay.  Men beware!  This week was no exception.  It was in full swing and serving was on the menu with "Whip your man!" echoing across the court.


    So, what were we doing?  Well, one of the ways to fine-tune your service action is to use a skipping rope, whipping it as if you were hitting the ball.  It's a great way to see how you're hitting, stopping you from hitting too much to the side or pushing the ball. 

    It's also great fun :)

    By the end of the lesson, everyone's serves had improved ten-fold, but their men had better beware when they get home!

    Next week we'll have to find something to top that!  There's always working on top spin!

    To find out more go to Sacha, the Paphos Tennis Coach, at

    50 Shades of Tennis

  • 24/01/2014 - by Sacha Appleton

    The latest, Andy Murray, just came back from back surgery.  Nadal has returned from injury with a phenomenal impact.  But, last year in grand slams and tour events for men and women alike it seemed like there were more withdrawals than ever due to injury.

    Some may preventative because the tennis calendar is brutal, but some could be that professional players are reaching their limits.  When Djokovic had his phenomenal year, he broke new boundaries in fitness, speed and results.  He was the man to beat.  Since then it seems that all the players have worked phenomenally hard to bring themselves up to that standard.  Some have tried the famous gluten free diet, but all have improved their fitness.  Just look at the players next time you watch a match.  They have lost weight, they have more defined muscles and performance is amazing.  But, all of this comes at cost.  If you push your body like that through all the gruelling rounds of a tournament where the competition is fierce whoever you're playing and if you do this almost 50 weeks of the year without many pauses then your body may just fail.  Of course, players do everything to try to prevent injuries, but it is inevitable.  The only player who has been virtually injury free is Roger Federer.

    So what do you think?  Have players reached their limits in terms of what their body can do?  Should the tennis year be shorter?

    The lesson though for us amateur players though is that we do need to be careful with our own bodies as well.  We're not pushing them to the limits of the pros, but at the same time, we should warm up properly and do training specifically to minimise risk of injury.

    To find out more go to Sacha, the Paphos Tennis Coach, at

    Are Professional Tennis Players Pushing Their Bodies Too Far?


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  • Sacha Appleton - Paphos Tennis Coach

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    Sacha can sort your backhand out in no time - tell you what you are doing wrong and then build up the right way step by step with practice routines and shots. she also adds tips on nutrition, mental focus and positioning on court.
  • Ride in Cyprus

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    I had a great time this past weekend at Ride In Cyprus.Everything is provided for you - clothes, safety hat, etc., and all you have to do is turn up.I too the 2 hour evening ride through the hills of Paphos. Apart from a fantastic ride, the scenery was beautiful and Caroline explained about all the old villages and the geology of the land.Fantastic time - one that I will do again.
  • Sacha Appleton - Paphos Tennis Coach

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     ... Read More
    I came on holiday to Cyprus and on a whim decided to take some lessons with Sacha, and have some for my toddler daughter. Sacha was brilliant, I progressed really quickly not having played for many years. My little child had enormous fun and Sacha had enormous patience with her! Sacha first checked what I wanted to achieve, listened and my technique improved dramatically. She is good fun and friendly.

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