Barbro's Horsey Blog - Brightmare Productions



I don’t remember when it happened or what horse I rode. But I do remember it was during a specific riding session in my arena, when I suddenly realised, I knew exactly what do to in every single situation, to guide the horse to better balance. I realised I knew what every aid actually did to the horse’s balance. Not only what I wanted with it, how I wished the horse to respond, but how it influenced the horse’s movements and balance in a plain physical way.

During my first eight years as a rider, I wasn’t even close to this insight. I learned a lot of aids in riding school and with private dressage trainers, but no one taught me why. So, when riding without my trainer, I was bound to just guessing. For me back then, riding was all about using a lot of aids, and there was always something more to do. More outside rein, more leg. But the instructions always seemed so random, and I couldn’t figure out the bigger picture, the one my trainer obviously saw.

When I was 14, I switched discipline from dressage to western performance. It was hard to re-learn how to ride, hard to let the reins hang loose and to only use one aid at a time. Completely the opposite to everything I’d learned so far. However, it went quite quickly. Why? Because finally, someone taught me a logical system, brick by brick. Aid by aid. When, how and why. And between the aids, just sit there. Be a nice passenger. Don’t bombard your horse with constant and confusing information. Ask him something, then be quiet and let him answer.

A few years later, I got horses who loved dressage, and through them, I learned how to ride the basic dressage movements with my new aids system. That’s when I begun to wonder; how far could I go with this?
Was it possible to educate a horse to a higher level in both western performance and dressage, without painting myself into a corner aids wise?
I understood from the start that it was all about finding a true and complete aid system, and never build any movement on a “single island”. You can, after all, teach a horse to do anything as a response to any aid, but to create a system with never-ending possibilities, I had to build it on how my aids actually influenced the horse in every detail, even before the horse had learned the aid as a cue.

The movements that taught me the most was how to separate the spin from the pirouette. What aid made the horse rotate around his pivot hindleg, and what aid made him keep taking steps with it, but still centre around it? And what was the difference between a stop and a halt?
How about timing and situation? How does, for example, the very same left rein aid influence the horse, if you time it with the rising of left hind leg, right hind leg, left front leg, right front leg? When going in a bow or circle to the left, or to the right, or on a straight track? When rounded to the left or to the right? In walk, trot or gallop?

After some years, I’d educated my quarterhorse to National Championships level in Reining and Trail, and at home we practised piaffe, passage, canter pirouette, counter canter, school canter, terre-à-terre, and so on.

As all riders know, you’ll always keep learning how to ride. You’re never done. That’s why it’s so important to use an aid system you can use to keep develop and improve your skills, no matter what you want to explore next.
All riders strive to help their horse into better balance. To know your aids is an important part of your education to become a complete rider. No matter if you focus on one discipline or several, my tip for you is to find a trainer who really can explain how, why and when, to help you become a trainer-independent rider.

Do you want to dive deeper into how to develop a complete aids system?

Keep an eye out for my next article!


When Portugal had the lockdown because of the Covid 19 Pandemic during the spring I didn’t have the possibility to ride, I was not even allowed to visit my horse. Under 6 weeks I had four extra hours a day. It was a bit of a chock to have a lot of extra time and not have to stress through the day. I started to long for my family in my home country Sweden, typical Swedish dishes, and of course the Swedish nature.
I desperately longed to return home to Sweden, but because of the pandemic and the difficulty to travel, I had to settle with just dreaming. 
I had daily contact with my mother, and I could hear how her voice got weaker every day that passed, without any visits, her days where long, boring and meaningless and I understood she did not want to go on. One day in the last days of may her nurse called me and told she had falled and hurt herself.

My instinct told me that I had to go home.

I called a logistics company to transport my horse to Sweden and booked a flight for myself for the next day. I had a possibility to get home but the trip from Lisbon, took 24 hours with an overnight layover in Frankfurt.
When I got home to Sweden, I got only less than a week together with my mother before she passed away. Now, I am so grateful that I got home in time.

Eneias arrives to Sweden! 

A couple of days later, Eneias arrived, cheerful and alert after 8 days of travel through Europe with a Dutch logistics company. Eneias handled the trip well, he overnighted a few times during the trip. The day Eneias arrived, tears ran down my face, to be with him in my old homeland and to ride on my summer meadows, a dream had become reality. An infinite amount of summer days where we, together, could explore the amazing region, of Haväng at Österlen, here sheep, cows and horses run free all year around and becomes the characteristics of the landscape. Vast moors and the sea in the horizon. I let him out together with his new friend after a bit of rest. He immediately ran out and got familiar with the herd, ran a couple of laps in the pasture before he started to pasture.


Summer love

Immediately he fell helplessly in love with a small Icelandic mare and they followed side by side every minute. The first couple of times I took Eneias out of the pasture, he got a bit worried and his girlfriend wanted to come along. It is rather common, horses just connected to the herd they don’t want to leave their new friends. I was a bit nervous to go out in the fields but from the start I felt comfortable and me and Eneias loved it. I accompanied by another horse and rider to feel a bit more secure. I think Eneias was used to big fields with herds of animals grassing since long time back when he grew up in Ribateijo area in Portugal, The lusitano horse often grow up in big herds as youngsters in big areas with cows and sheep. The only thing he now reacted to was when we met a big male lama that came walking towards us.

Horses needs friends and space.

In my experience with horses, I’ve noticed that horses feel better living outside and walking in a herd with other horses. It’s their element where they, mentally and physically, without a doubt, feel the best. A horse that you directly takes out of the pasture to ride is neither spry nor stressed. They get their mental stimuli in the interaction with other horses to become relaxed and calm. Sure, there are horses that get lazy and fat because of eating to much and, of course, there are differences between individuals, but horses have big muscle groups that needs to be kept in motion. Eneias is an energetic horse and needs a lot of mental stimuli and is at his best when is out in the pasture and is already warmed up. He is then relaxed, focused and eager to learn new things, not stressed or have a excess of energy.


Now the summer has come to and end and soon it will be time for me and Eneias to travel back home to Portugal. 
Everything I dreamt about has been fulfilled, we have really bonded this summer. I feel I can trust him completely in all hacking scenarios and I know this was exactly what we both needed, after all monotonous dressage training in the arena. So, I really want to give everyone this tip, if you have the possibility, give yourself and your horse a long summer holiday. 

Now we are ready for a more intensive training with a goal to start some competitions. 
See you in Portugal 🙂



When I moved to Portugal five years ago I never realised how many
experiences and challenges would come my way. Language and culture barriers, big fires… and now this huge Corona crises. Especially, staying in a foreign country far away from my family in Sweden has been a challenge although I have many good friends in my village.

I hav’nt been allowed to see my dear friend Eneias in 2 months.

My safe and comfortable life in Sweden, seems to me now, like a
walk in the park. This years has been very intense and adapting to a new life in a new country has had both good and bad sides. We have managed to overcome many obstacles and grow our business. Despite me living here in Portugal and Lina living in Sweden we can still keep up our communication, we spend hours of speaking in the phone every day.

We are inspired to launch new products in our Creative Riding series for all equestrians around the world. We have to date, produced more three equestrian books in both Swedish and English and soon the books will be available in several different languages like french, german and spanish.

Anna Lindberg is one member of our Equestrian Photo Team in Portugal.

We will also introduce a new product in a couple of days, our first online-course with pole exercises. Our Equestrian team in Portog has despite this crises been abled to serve us with movies and photos.

We have found horse lovers in 90 different countries around the world
which is absolutely amazing and we ship frequently.

Our readers range from recreational to professional riders of all different disciplines. From just being me and Lina doing absolutely all the work in the company, we are now about 10 people in the team, producing and shipping books.
In Sweden we have the IT-department and in Portugal we have the
shipping department.

We are painting poles in our company colors,
orange and blue to use in our future videos and photos.

Currently Portugal is in a State of Emergency (because of the
Covid 19 pandemic) It has really changed my life, even for the better.

I am lucky, my horse Eneias has been in this 2 months period, trained by a a professional trainer who normally works for the Portuguese Riding School!

I will be able to start to ride again tomorrow and it will be really interesting to see the progress he made, the trainer has worked hard with the Piaffe…

So in this period, instead of stressing around, I have taught myself to be more be patient. During a crisis like this you can learn a lot about yourself. Normally I have thousands of projects, now I had a chance to slow down and also had the time to tidy up a lot of things in my house and in my garden. I also run an Airbnb which, of course, had to close.

I am really proud of the Portuguese people and how they have responded to this situation.

The government acted very fast, closing the borders and shutting down the country and maybe because of that we’ve had far fewer cases of ill people and deaths compared to other european countries.

5 minutes before 12!

New printed books arriving from our Printing office in Hungary

Just two days before the lockdown we managed to move into our new Brightmare office. It is situated in a small, peaceful and picturesque village called Almoçageme, which can be found just 40 km from Lisbon. From here we are sending our books all around the world.

This is a typical sight in my village. Miguel doesn’t go anywhere without his horse.

The shipping has been a challenge during this period of crisis because two thirds of all flights around the world have been cancelled. Unfortunately there have been postal disruptions beyond our control.
We are so grateful that our customers have shown patience. On Saturday
Portugal will end their “State of Emergency” and start to slowly reopen.

For you who still don’t have the possibility to see your horse,

Stay safe and inspired!


Business owner of Brightmare Productions


This is me and a pony I found in a paddock “somewhere”! I always had the need to go and speak to the horse or pony, even in my youngest years.

When I started to ride in the 70s everything was very different from today. My parents had no interest in horses and I was left to my own devices. I would spend all day in the stables with a pot of mashed potatoes and my mother’s home-made meatballs to keep me going. I was only about 9 or 10 years old at that time. I recall the stable was owned by a man called ‘Ahlstedt” and situated just outside Karlstad in Sweden. He was selling and buying all sorts of horses and more. I remember there were even wild animals from the circus in the stables! The horses were practically wild and I had to break them in myself. (that is where my stubborness started) Some of them were mostly terrifying, baring their teeth and trying to kick me when I was in the box. These were hard days but I learned how to understand the horses and how to make them feel good around me. I felt I had a connection with them despite my age and lack of training. I always rode bareback and without any concerns for safety. Thank goodness my parents had no interest in horses and didn’t worry about the risks I was taking at such a young age.

This photo was captured during a riding summer camp at Clarebergs Riding School outside Gothenburg. This is me and the four year old pony Focus I had to ride during that time.
The year was 1971.

In those days, my dreams of horses and success revolved around reading about it. I read hundreds of books about becoming a riding star, as having my own pony was a dream.

Perhaps my childhood experience made me who I am today? I am still totally mad about horses. My whole life has been centred on horses and here we are…. And who could believe in that time, that myself and my business partner Lina would be writing and selling equestrian books all around the world. Not me.

Wow! I remember that feeling, to just sit on a horse!
Notice my riding equipment, not so comfortable!

Parents of today, especially in northern European countries where I come from, are much more supporting than my parents. For good and for bad. The children of today (in my opinion) lose their creativity because their parents are fussing around them all the time.  Just being together with the pony and playing and exploring how to communicate is important for the child to be a good horseman or horsewoman.  Riding is about horsemanship, not only knowing how to ride. And in my opinion I think everyone who is going to be a good horse men should learn to educate a horse from young age.

In our society it’s a lot about competing and showing off. Many pony riders are nowadays a ”member” of a full team comprising of mum and dad, trainers, vets, ferriers, osteopaths and even masseuse. The kids have perfect outfits and horse equipment. Riding has more or less just become a way to have success in the arenas. Sometimes just for their parents to enjoy.

Of course, I respect that, and I have been a “pony-mum” too, with two daughters riding and competing, Actually, on reflection, I think that was the best time of my life! But both my girls gave up riding after school. In my case i think I was caring too much, giving my kids the encouragement I didn’t get myself. 

This is Fredrika, one of my daughters, riding the fabulous mare Cassandra K.

Riding must be about joy and pleasure from an early age for both horse and rider.

Everyones needs variety, creativity and playfulness to stay happy and motivated. That is what we are trying to communicate in our books. (sold here or The first book we produced (Creative Riding with Obstacles) came from hundreds of training sessions different training classes I went to with my kids. I was wondering, why aren’t there any books with exercises to inspire our daily training? Years later, I met Lina, who was also thinking the same and our books were born.


This is ‘Barbro’s Lusitano gelding Eneias.

The most appropriate way to start a horsey blogg, must be with the most horsey event ever experienced in my entire horse life. Golegã International Horse Show in Portugal – This is a must see!! A spectacular Lusitano Festival – quite literally a unique experience that no one can forget. It is at Golegã, known as the ‘Capital of Horses’ located in the top of the Ribatejo region and home to many of the famous Lusitano Breeder estates.

It’s kind of a riding party.

This show, or feira started 1571. Every year since has horse lovers from all over the world celebrated the Lusitano horse. In this time the whole town of Golegã, transforms from it usual sleepy state to a frenzy of horses, carriages and food stalls. It is a party enjoyed by local people and foreign visitors alike. From late afternoon the streets are packed until the early hours. There’s a wide array of traditional food stalls, restaurants, bars and cafes and discos that stay open most the night. 

The safety is not always the best.

The fair is always in November, over a 10 day period and must include the most important date of the 11th November, which is the The Feast of Saint Martin or Saint Martin’s Day, on this day the people eat roasted chestnuts and drink new wine.  Being the most important day of the festival everyone dresses in the traditional Portuguese Riding attire, (although most dress up throughout the Festival, you usually see the finest clothing this day).

This woman is the best bullfighter woman in Portugal.

You can see the Lusitano showing classes in hand and ridden, dressage competition, working equitation and there are usually other competitions taking place, such as endurance and even eventing.  Later in the evening in the centre’s main arena (The Manga) you can enjoy horses and riders with traditional outfits parades, beautiful classical shows, fast action games of horse ball and prize giving parades.

Situated around the Manga are the breeder’s ‘Casettas’, here you have the opportunity to meet the breeders. The ‘Casettas’ are small wooden houses designed to greet guests offer wines and olives along side each Casetta some examples of their horses are presented in stalls. 

The casettas for the breeders.

If you want to go to Golega, it’s about 1,5 hours drive from Lisbon. The best time to experience the feira is to stay there when it’s start to get dark, the atmosphere is getting really amazing when the air is filled with smoke from the roasting chestnuts and the BBQ’s. 

A whole pig Bbq in the street.
The bars are in the height of the horses.

In Portugal you are never to young for riding.
This is me and my friend Kicki who I was working with when I came to Portugal.


Barbro is one of two partners of Brightmare Productions. Barbro grew up in Sweden and lived there until four years ago, when she moved to Portugal.
Barbro is a graphic designer and has been working with advertising her whole life. She has also run a livery yard with horses on her farm, breeding warmblood horses, riding and competing both dressage and showjumping.

In this blog Barbro will give you some examples of the tremendous horse life in Portugal and also some tips about horsey things in general.

We hope you like it. If you have any questions about anything, just send it to her mail

Ride with a smile! 🙂

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