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About me

I would prefer if my name stays hidden on this blog, so I use the Sofianna name here. I was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary.  My parents are horseback riding coaches. Before they became coaches they both were pentathletes. Pentathlon is a sport which involves five different sports. Running, Swimming, Shooting, Horsebac-riding and fencing are the five sports in pentathlon.  My dad whom I am very proud of was a European champion. So not surprisingly, me and my little sister did pentathlon as well. I had done pentathlon for ten years before I decided to focus on only on fencing. I started to swim when I was three years old and my parents put me on a horse when I turned six. Sports have always been in my life. I cannot imagine my life without it.

Pentathlon is probably the hardest and most time-consuming sport because you have to train to be good in five completely different sports. After practicing five hours a week just to be a better shooter, which was my weakest sport, I realized I would not get any better in shooting. That was the point when I made a decision and decided to concentrate all my energy only on fencing which I was the most talented, I became more successful in fencing than I have ever been in pentathlon. That is why I am in New York, fighting for the fencing team’s success at St. John’s.

The other thing that I’m obsessed with, beside sports, is traveling. Some girls spend their money on shoes and clothes or dining out. I spend it on airplane tickets. Before I moved to New York, I lived six months in England in a little town called Wells and in Vancouver, Canada for a summer long. In England I worked in a pub called The King’s Head, which I really liked. I liked my colleges, my boss was awesome, it was very close to where I lived at that time and I also liked the customers who came into the pub. Even thought I had a wonderful time in England I was happy to move from Wells to New York. I enjoy changes and prefer keep moving. Just in this year, I have visited the Caribbean, and Toronto. I went on a road trip in Arizona in May and I was in London last weekend. I’m back to Wells at the moment, visiting my friends from the King’s Head.  Next weekend I’m going back to my hometown, Budapest, where I’m planning to stay till the end of the summer. However I’m planning to go on a trip to Bulgaria in the beginning of July.

After school I would like to keep both obsessions and become a professional fencer and travel around the world going to World Cups.

My Family Heritage

As in every family, my family also got something which connects the family members. We don’t go on holidays together, we don’t dine out together but we horseback-ride together. We all love horses and this passion for horses is originated from my parents who are obsessed with horses.

Me and my sister grew up in an environment where everything was about horses. If you enter to my parent’s flat in Budapest, you can experience yourself. Pictures and sculptures of horses are everywhere; shelves are packed with books and videos on horse riding and probably you will find my parents watching a big show jumping tournament on EuroSport. My parents live in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, but they drive to the country side to work with horses. My parents are those lucky people whose passion is their career. They are both horse-riding trainers. There is not much in common between my parents, but the only thing that connects them is their passion for horses. Actually, I’m convinced my Mum married to my Dad because she was so impressed by his horse riding.

After that, it is not surprising I started to ride on horses at a very early age. I was doing equestrian vaulting which is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback, before I went to school.  I got my license to compete on show jumping tournaments when I was fourteen and after finishing high school I was already a paid horse rider. People gave me money to work with their horses. I worked under my parents in the family business. We trained horses and horse riders together. My Dad worked with the most difficult horses and gave jumping lessons to advance riders.  My Mum gave lessons to intermediate people and I gave horse riding lessons to children and beginners and trained the easiest horses, usually mares and geldings. Young horses need to be taught to understand the riders’ signals and how to perform under riders. Young mares and gelding are more manageable and less dangerous than stallions. The rider has to prove his superiority over the horse in order to play the controlling role. It can be more difficult on stallions because they are naturally wishing to be the alpha male in the herd. Once a horse acknowledges you as his leader, you can start train him.

Everything what I know about horses and horse-riding is learned from my parents. But once I found a good book, The Horse and Horsemanship, which explains perfectly why and how humans are able to ride on horses.

Tamas Flandorffer, writes on horseback riding:

The primary goal of training is that the rider should be able to reach the predetermined goal on his mount should be amenable to control. The horse has an excellent memory and powers of orientation. In order for the rider to handle his horse properly he must know its nature. It is an inherently timid animal, its only defence being escape. It retains to this day a strong sense of the ancient herd instinct. If treated well, the horse is affectionate, loyal, obedient and mild, therefore it should always be rewarded after performing its tasks. The basis of the teamwork is the rider’s trust in his horse, and the horse’s trust in its rider. One should never demand performances that exceed the strength of one’s horse.


Horse riding is a very gentle sport, where there is a purpose of every movement on the horse. These little movements are all signals to the horse what you expect him to do. These motions are so gently and often invisible for not riders. My dad always explain to his riders “the more invisible helps you can give, (he calls the the “signals” helps) the better rider you are. If you look like you are making effort on the horse, probably you don’t have your harmony with the animal.”

I experienced during my one year when I taught horse-riding, people assume horse-riding is an easy sport to learn. “Horse does everything and you just have to sit on the back” – they think. And when I put them on a horse and start teaching them how to do it properly they realize it is much more complicated than it looks like.  Blokhuis and Aronsson state in their article “Assessing the Rider’s Seat and Horse’s Behavior” Difficulties and Perspectives”. “The correct seat of the rider is difficult to learn and also difficult to teach and to improve.” (192)  They continue on: “An effective seat is upright, balanced, elastic, solid, and interactive – it follows the horse movements. A vertical line between the rider’s shoulder-hip-heel and straight line between the elbow-forearm reins and horse’s mouth are essential for a correct seat.” (192) My parents believe every inexperienced rider should start acquiring a good and stable seat and learning how to trot during the lunging exercise. This exercise is based on the teacher keeps the horse on a big circle around him or her with a long lunge. In that way the teacher controls the horse and the rider can focus his undivided attention on his balance and movements. When the rider doesn’t seem gawky any longer, and seems more confident on the horse, the teacher can let him to grab the reins and try to control the horse without keeping him on the long leash. It can be very difficult at the first to do the well-practiced motions and plus take attention to the horse but after time, motions on the horse will be natural. When the rider acquires how to trot, canter (short gallop) and gallop he can start learning how to jump with the horse.

Tamas Flandorffer says on jumping:

“Only riders who have mastered the ability to sit loosely at a gallop should attempt jumping. The rider in order to reach his goal in the field despite possible obstacles has to learn how to make the horse jump and the horse must learn to jump. For the horse’s part, a jump is really an extended gallop during which its body “floats” over the obstacle. Approaching an obstacle is one of the most important maneuvers. Calf and body weight aids should be used when approaching, and there should be constant flexible contact with the horse’s mouth. During the jump the horse should have complete freedom. The stretch of its neck should be followed with hands, to make sure that there is a straight line between the elbow and the knees. On reaching the ground the rider should take the jolt with his own knees and ankles, this avoiding the horse’s back having to take all his weight.”

(The horse and horsemanship, 166-171)

Tamas Flandorffer uses the expression: “… learn how to make the horse jump”. This opposes with Shalley Campf who is the writer of the article, “Get in The Zone For Better Jumping”. She says “The reality is, your horse doesn’t jump because you make him. He jumps because there’s a stationary object in front of him. If he is concentrating on jumping and not what you are telling him to do when he is preparing for his takeoff, he’ll jump much better. So remember that you are just a passenger, and the less you interfere with his balance and rhythm, the better he can do his job, which is to jump.” (46) – I, personally strongly disagree with this statement and hate she uses the word “passenger”. We, riders do not travel on horses, we ride on horses. When I first read this article I right away showed it to my parents, because I look up to them so much so I was curious what their comments would be on this article. My mum said “It is like saying the pilot on an airplane is just a passenger, certainly he is not the one who built it to enable to fly, but without him the airplane would be only the slowest transit on the Earth.” – She was right, horses do have the ability to jump but the riders make all the difference. I think it was a great comparison from my Mum because jumping with horses does feel like flying.

After one year of teaching horse-riding and train horses, I quite from the family business and decided to go back to school. Even though I’m not a professional horse rider any longer, I will never forget this one year that I spent with my family around horses. Horse riding is a part of me, it is my family heritage. It is so nice to be back to Hungary and go on horse riding trips with my parents. I never feel closer to the nature when I am on a horse, galloping in the middle of a forest or the bank of the Danube. That is what I miss the most when I am in New York.

An experiment of the world of self-expressions

I must admit, I wasn’t very keen on taking this online class. First of all, I have never been a good essay writer. I have taken a lot of language exams in my life and I haven’t had any problem with the oral speaking but I always did poorly on the writing part. Essay writing in English is so strict and formal; you have to follow so many rules. Secondly, I’m not very enthusiastic about expressing myself to people who don’t know me.  I’m so fear being judged by others so I’m only confident talking among my friends.

Handing a piece of paper to the professor is much different than putting my writing on a blog. Handing a paper is like a personal message to the professor; you write only to him. On the other hand, putting your message on a blog is like an invitation for the whole world to get an access to your thoughts, which I was very afraid of it at the beginning.  However, I was pleasantly surprised how well people in my reading group received my blog posts. They were all nice and supportive. Short after some very nice comments from Amy, Zhou, Charlotte and Paul, I got more confident at writing about myself and about horse-riding. I was very much engaged with writing about horseback-riding over this course, which has a great affect on my life.

My favorite comment was from Paul who wrote “Now I know something about training horses. Yesterday I took my friends to Central Park, I saw many horse riders there. I remembered what you wrote in your writing and shared to my friends.” – This comment really made me feel good about my writing. Just thinking, this person who I hardly know sharing my ideas on horse-riding to his friends, that is really something. This is the power of expressing ourselves. Now I understand why anyone wants to be a journalist or a writer. I still don’t  consider myself a good writer and wouldn’t  want to reveal my real name on my blog but I experienced how it feels like if my thought effect other people’s life even if it is just as tiny as in this case: Paul telling some facts from me about horses to his friends.  What I learned in this class is do not afraid your thought might affect others, because this is a power which once should be equipped.

I liked the fact this class made me do a Twitter account. I have wanted to try Twitter for a long time. I felt guilty having advertising major and not even try out Twitter, but I was just too lazy to get started.  This class gave me the push. Now I tried, but it didn’t really get me hooked up, but at least I know what this whole Twitter mania is all about.

I also liked Professor Torgerson who seemed very accessible and replied to my emails right away, which surprised me because I am six hours ahead of New York. It made me wonder how much Professor Torgerson sleeps a day.  And I also liked the material on YouTube, it was very helpful.

So overall, this class was much better than I expected to be. I read and learned a lot about health care, animation, about the history of typing and a story of a big journey from Vietnam to New York. I’m glad I took this class, it was my first online class and it was a great experiment. But I think next time I will probably stick with taking traditional classes. I just feel like I am that kind of person who actually likes to go to classes and having a personal relationship with the professors and with the class.