Creating memories and chasing dreams…Part I

It’s been a while since I did an ‘about me’ blog. Working in equestrian marketing it is so easy to get caught up in social media and what’s ‘new’, so sparing time to write for myself is a luxury. But today I’ve made the time, basically because this morning has been a comedy of errors (long story and not worth boring you with) … and I thought sod it… write for yourself today Nick and clear your head, talk to your laptop.

While we renovate our lovely barn we have all been living in limbo. Five people all squished into 2 rooms isn’t ideal, such is the joy of temporary accommodation. My ‘it will be worth it’ mantra has now worn itself out and sounds like a scratched record. But we are on the final leg of the journey. I doubt we will be finished by Christmas, but it will be nice to not live out of a suitcase when the time comes. The process has made me value possessions and realise I have so much ‘stuff’, including almost forty boxes of books which will need organising, but wont be thrown away! But when it comes to it, temporary living has made me think about what I really need, and in turn what I want out of life. I’m not going down a heady philosophical route here… just the simple question of ‘does owning stuff give you pleasure or is it just a distraction to life itself and dealing with the grittier aspects of it? Hmmmm…. I don’t think I am at a point to give all my possessions away but it has made me think about what I’ve missed the most and what I have gained by not having it.

As an antidote to not having ‘stuff’ in my life and having very little personal space I’ve appreciated spending time with my horses a lot more. Not that I always didn’t, but I think before they were part of my ‘stuff’ collection and I wasn’t tapping into the fun they give.  This year I’ve not been competing every weekend, but have progressed so much with my understanding and riding itself. I’ve thought long and hard about the whole eventing thing and just found it such a big day out. Logistically organising 3 children, work, my horse, training, paying for entries and then driving myself there, competing alone, getting home, unpacking, making sure homework is done, uniforms are washed, people are fed. I just couldn’t get my head around it. Let alone add the worry of a building project, feeling like I was neglecting my children or note earning to pay for it all… the list goes on.

In sum, I just didn’t have the headspace or the capacity to process 3 phases, and try to manage everything else in my life, let alone have the cash to pay for it. To put things bluntly I felt ‘FUCK it where is the fun?’ It’s not to say when things have settled down I won’t return, but for now it’s not the passion it was. I miss XC riding terribly but I don’t miss 4am starts (or earlier), to come home to a messy house 16 hrs later and a to do list that stretches to the moon and back… Some people would say that they will forgo all of that to follow their passion, but with too many plates to spin I personally cant.

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So what do you do when the lightbulb turns on and you realise that you have been stressing out and putting yourself under pressure to do something that just wasn’t time, logistics or money for? You go and start having FUN… and this is what I have been doing!

I have been quietly working away with my good friend Fiona Reddick and also Matt Cox who visits a yard, local to me to train. We have yet to build an arena here so schooling has to either be off site or on hacks, but I think this makes for more focused work and doesn’t sour Wanda. Hacking is very much a big part of exercise for all our horses here so although an arena would be amazing, its a massive expense to legitimise while the build is on.

I was lucky enough to apply and be selected for the British Dressage Suffolk County team and rode in the Inter Regionals at Keysoe in July which was a great experience and really opened my eyes up to a more competitive side of dressage. Out team trainer was the amazing Mette Assounline who I worked with before the competition, again a real eye opener for me, which led to some massive changes in what I could feel and how I approached test riding. We weren’t top of the pile at Keysoe, but Wanda held her own and our team was the highest placed Suffolk team. I also started to tap into the challenges that I wanted to sign up for the emotions I wanted to experience, things that I hadn’t thought about or had the confidence to do as I was so caught up in what I thought I ‘should’ be doing.

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At the end of September, I was lucky enough to ride as a guinea pig dressage test rider at Osberton International Horse Trails. For those of you wondering what small furry animals and dressage have in common, a guinea pig rider, literally rides a judges warm up test. You go in, ride the test under competition conditions, and are marked. The idea is that the judges can then confer, make sure they are marking to the same level and iron out any issues before the main competitors come in.

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A great experience to don tails and ride in a full on setting. As ever Wanda was a superstar and it was great to ride through a test with a few more complex movements, canter serpentines and lateral work. Marks wise we sat in the middle of the class, had we been competing, so I was pleased with that. What I wasn’t pleased with was Wanda breaking free at 4am as I was getting ready to load her, galloping off across a ploughed field and heading across a main, unlit road… with cars. A life flashing in front of us moment when I lost sight of her, then realised a car was heading towards us both! Not ideal but I really had to pull myself together, wipe away the snot and tears, get on with things, throw her on the lorry and drive. For once I had a co-pilot with me… the wonderful Friendsberry kindly loaned from the charity ‘Willberry Wonder Pony’… so with a hug and a squeeze we set off on our 3 hr road trip to do a 4-minute test (nuts eh?). Creating memories and chasing dreams… to be continued!

P.S. While I am here! I am thrilled to announce that our little blog has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Haynet Equestrian Blog Awards 2016. Voting is open now and a final winner will be selected on the basis of votes and a judges decision.

If you have 30 seconds to spare we would love it if you could click on the image below and vote for us…

Our blog started 3 years ago, and has been a great way to share our experiences and news to a wider audience. Personally, it has offered me a change of career and more than that inspired other mum’s to get back in the saddle. We are very proud to be recognised for what we do. #equinebloggingawards

 

A matter of choice…

It has been ages since I have blogged for myself. I can provide the same old, but very genuine reasons for not putting hands to keyboard… work, family, stress, more work, family etc etc etc. Recently my youngest son was diagnosed with CP so this has had an impact on family life, just in the time spent in physio and trying to do all we can for him. That said he’s responding well and his consultant recommends lots of riding which is a great thing!

So this year I have most certainly been out of the blogging loop but also very much within it as I’ve been freelance writing – so my time is very much taken up commentating about and for other people instead of pour moi. I love this work, I find it really rewarding and can quite happily sit at my desk and get lost in the world of word. I also write for a great team and although the world of media can be a pretty full on and I am really thrilled to have the opportunity to have my work published.

So that’s my work… what about the horses and life? I’ve been up against things still trying to get divorced, yes 4 years on and it’s dragging its heels. There I was in 2010 thinking it would all be done by Christmas. I could throw in a select smattering of war analogies in at this point, and to be fair sometimes it has felt pretty much like a battlefield. Safe to say, this is one battle I need to win for the sake of my children and I will not put up with the Machiavellian behaviour of my ex. Enough of this though… it is not worth the words, and this is, after all, an equine blog!

So back to the horses. It’s all about the equine non?

Wilma, my beautiful little filly is now two and has had a few growth spirts. She is now larger than her Aunt Wanda and is looking like a very promising horse for the future. Her front end has now caught up with her back end and she is looking altogether much more rideable. My plan was to take her to futurity but, true to sicknote’s form, she slashed her face very deeply a few weeks before and I was worried about her healing in time or being presented with staples! Fortunately you can’t see a scar and she was very lucky not to have caused further injury to herself. She is now regularly wearing a bridle and starting to go for long rein walks around the farm as I think she is ready to experience more of her environment.

Wilma has a lovely, if rather naïve, soul. Always first in line for cuddles and has learnt the paddock pecking order yet is not afraid to stand her ground and is by no means a wet blanket. She’s a beautiful mix of blood horse (moves like shit off a shovel), warmblood (trot to die for) and cob (inquisitive, slightly bolshie and smart and solid on her feet). I can’t wait to do more work with her next year and hope she continues in the way she has been.

Wanda is still my lifeline. As part of a massive life change we decided to move to Suffolk to live on a new farm. It’s a total oasis for the horses and children and possibly one of the best decisions I have made. It took a while to decide what was the best thing to do, not only for myself, but for my family. Sometimes, I think the build up to these things is far worse than the actual act of doing something but we all have choices, it’s a matter of making decisions and sticking with them or having a bloody superb plan B.

So this year I have made a choice not to compete much. Granted this was one decision that didn’t always sit well with me but I think it has been for the best. With one thing or another I’ve been pretty stressed and worn out. So getting up at 3am, to drive myself then event solo all day, getting home at 8pm with 3 kids to sort out really didn’t appeal any more. I felt tired before I’d even started and I don’t think this is a good way to compete, it’s no fun!

Having said that I haven’t evented, I have still had a lot of success with Wanda, qualifying for RC champs in 4 disciplines at open level and coming 5th in the DTM championships. I’ve also been hunting and realised that my little supercob is actually quite turbo charged V6 when her blood is up – never will I moan about not being able to get the time XC!

This year I have enjoyed learning more about my horse and being more disciplined in my riding at home. Sure it’s frustrating not competing every weekend but if time and money don’t allow there is no point getting upset about it and particularly no point in worrying what other people think and in some cases what they have said. It has taken me all year to realise this…

So it’s back to choices again… as Yoda said ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’

But 2016 will be back to lots of doing … and I can’t bloody wait!