INTERVIEW WITH


Lana Zavada

Photocredit: @alien_zagrebelnaya

    What made you fall in love with the equestrian sport and for how long have you been riding?

    I believe I fell in love with horses before I even was born. They inspired me, they attracted with their humble charm. I wanted to know more, to know everything about them! To understand what they feel, why and how; to learn how to talk to them and become their family; to open them up and see them free and happy!

     

    Finally at the age of 9 I entered a local horse riding school, even though the minimum age to enter was 12. But I wasn’t afraid of horses, I felt this deep connection with them, we spent a lot of time on the ground and it seemed that this made them happy. And this is maybe why I could confidently ride almost from the beginning, trainers noticed me and agreed on accepting me to the school.

     

    I got some basic education during the first years, and then I started realizing that I need to know more and look for it by myself. I wanted to teach horses high-level exercises keeping the spark in their eyes and keeping them healthy. So I started searching for videos, articles, any possible information on healthy and happy horse training by many of the great athletes. The good ones were mostly in English so this is how I learnt it!

    I learnt a lot of veterinary things to be able to help my horses in case of what because every minute matters! And now I help other horses too! It is not my main job, I just help if there’s a need.

     

    I had serious problems with my back and doctors said that I have to stop riding when I was 14, then when was 16. But I believed I will always be around horses and that my love for those three exact horses who ended up being mine (Almost. The third one will be soon, with the help of all of you!), can heal everything! And it did!

    However I always thought that even if I cannot ride – I will always be with the horses! There were times when I couldn’t ride for a year. But every day I came to the stable to take care of the horses and no one else rode them. I taught them things on ground, which they easily learnt to do under saddle later! This is such a blessing to be with your horses, to make them feel needed regardless of in the saddle or on the ground.

     

    There’s expression ‘a horse of a lifetime’ and I have three. They all are different and unique and they also know they are ‘brothers’ and love each other too!

    Photocredit: @alien_zagrebelnaya

    Your heart is into rescuing horses that have suffered a lot, tell us about that work?

    I have an issue of loving animals not for how they look or what achievements they have, but for who they are and what they can turn into with love. I can see the final picture, I’m not afraid of taking an ugly kitten from the street. I know that he will turn into a big healthy and happy cat! I also don’t care if he has no eye or no leg, I love him for the personality he has deep inside him and awaits for being opened up!

    Same with the horses. Oasis was brought to our stable when I was 12. He was very small and weak for a 2 yo. He had a lot of colics the first year and had no sport perspectives as well. Initially he had to be sent to a slaughterhouse in a few months after he came here. But I cared of him so much and he brought so much happiness to me, I couldn’t see myself riding other horses, competing and winning for the price of his life. Others didn’t really understand this. But I was holding on to him with all my power and even when my trainers left the stable Oasis was moving to other ones with me.

    I needed him to be a sport horse in order for the school to keep him, I taught him a lot from the ground, improved his trot a lot. Now he can do 2 tempi flying changes, pirouettes, we are now learning to passage and piaffe in hand.

    And yes, I finally bought him two years ago!

     

    When you rescue, when you give a new life to someone innocent, to someone wanting to be loved – you become loved as well, you get a soul mate, who understands you like no one else. You get a wonderful feeling looking back at where you came from and what has become out of it! You understand that if you wouldn’t have met this little foal, he wouldn’t be able to make it this far. And you actually saved a life, which means a life to you now as well!

     

    Goldy was rescued by some people from a guy who owned him and accidentally put him into a trailer to a slaughterhouse. Do you really accidentally load horses to slaughter?? So they did not give Goldy back to that guy, neither they could handle Goldy, that’s why they put him on sale. That’s how we got him! He still is a crazy huge eagle (Golden Eagle, that’s what I call him sometimes), but he is not scared of the world as he was before, he loves playing, running, learning new things, he loves to be cared of! And seeing his transformation makes me happy!

     

    I have been riding Blacky for the half of his and my life! Others had given up on him as well as on Oasis. He was unmanageable under saddle because of fear and also had a huge wound on his bootie. But his beautiful eyes never wanted to harm a thing, he asked for help and for a friend. I could feel it and this is how he started to open up, he became brave enough to ask what he wants too! He understood that he will not be left anymore. And how could I?

    I could have moved to a better place with two of my horses, which I own, but those bright Blacky’s eyes… how could they be left?

     

    Yes, I’ve been told millions of times to just sell those horses and buy a good one to be able to show my real level of riding and training. Because, you know, many things depend on the quality of the horse you ride. But I never felt happy thinking of a life without seeing my brothers, understanding that they are waiting for me every day in some stranger’s place (I also do not believe in “good homes” I know so many stories where “good homes” neglected their horses, sent them to slaughter and so on). My horses cannot even stay alone in the paddock – they chase me if I make the distance more than 20 m. So I’m sure that life with all your loved ones together is more than any sport achievements. Big achievements will come later, but family first!

     

    Yes, I do not have enough to be able to provide them with the best home, yet. But I will, and thank you to all of you who help us! I wouldn’t be able to come that far without your support!

    Photocredit: @heeey_man_photo 

    Tell us about your typical day in the stable?

    I come to the stable after the university, at around 2-3pm. The horses meet me with the happy sounds as soon as I enter they know the way my walk sounds. Then I pet each of them and give them some fruits. First thing I do when take them out is checking the legs and their mood to make sure they are in good health. I groom them all by myself and I really like it! Equestrian sport is not only about riding, it’s about the partnership and the friendship.

     

    I try to give my horses as much variety as possible, sometimes I lunge them, sometimes we jump or practice dressage exercises, there are also days of light work and days off, which would be better if horses could spend them outside rather than in the box. At the moment I visit them 5 days a week, because I also need to work, study and sleep. But I’m waiting for the day when they can run in pastures as much as they want! They surely deserve it!

     

    I finish riding at around 8pm, after that I wash their hooves and trim them if there’s a need. Then we do some stretching and massage to keep them sound and flexible. Blacky also receives his leg treatment and the other horses - if needed.

     

     

    Photocredit: @alien_zagrebelnaya

    What has the equestrian community meant to you?

    Internet is an amazing thing – you can join a master class of a world level rider just being home in your unicorn pajama. And you really can learn A LOT! I wonder do these trainers and riders who share their knowledge realize how much they inspire and help? How many horses are treated the right way thanks to them!

     

    I also found a huge support from horse lovers all over the world. Knowing so many good people who care gives me power to continue my way!

     

    What would you say to young women what struggle with finding themselves both as a human being and as an equestrian?

    You need to always believe! You can do everything! And you will be at the right time in the right place!

    I’m still on my way to the dream, but I can surely say that believing leads to achieving!

     

     

    Quick fact:

    Biggest jump – a real car in all three dimensions (width, length, height). This was an accident, I’ve told you, Goldy is a crazy horse.


    Instagram profile: @lanazavada

    Photographers: Alien Zagrebelnaya, @heeey_man_photo

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