Opinion

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There are not many people privileged enough to make their living out of their passion. That poses the question: how do 99% of horse lovers afford the time, money and dedication for their animals?

Most of us horsey people have at some point had a job in the industry but, as time moves on, and the pressures and responsibilities of life change, so do our priorities. We move on. Or do we?

For many years I was in the aforementioned category. I lived and breathed horses; I was young and privileged. In addition I had a secret weapon: an incredible mentor in my father, John. He was someone who put you on the right path, advised you wisely, picked you up when you were down and gave you a good kicking when required. Invaluable.

With his guidance, and the support of the best team of people and horses, I was free to achieve my dream.

With the loss of my mentor in 2012 came the realisation of life’s responsibilities and the juggling act began.

For most people this transition in their life happens when they leave school or get married or start a family. I was 35 and completely out of my comfort zone. I was always taught that you’re given responsibilities and not rights in life, and the time had come for me to take charge of my responsibilities and give back to those who had given so much to me.

The dream’s alive

I’ve had times of unbelievable guilt, always feeling that I should be doing something else.  As a mother I was never what one would describe as a walking udder, but leaving my son to ride my horses always seemed to sit wrongly in my mind. In the stables I was paying people to do the jobs I loved doing myself.

After my father had gone, sitting in the chair of one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of his time felt like being led out onto the main road on a just backed three-year-old, and let go. I felt the only solution was to give up my riding. It has taken me five years to realise that having a full-time job, a family and a small yard to run does not have to be the end of the dream. I am only doing what everyone else has always had to do.

Reflecting on the error of my ways

The balance is hard to find. My great friend Niall Quirk spent some time with me in the run-up to Myerscough Premier League (report, 16 March) to give me some support. He spent three days telling me to “balance and straighten” all three horses, and he got three days of stubborn me replying, “They have to be in front of my leg first”.

The irony of just kicking is representative of what I have been doing in life too. If in doubt ride forward, just keep going, head down. It was only after watching the video on day four that I reflected on the error of my ways and realised I was being an idiot.

My riding, like my life, was stuck in a rut of doing things just to get to the next thing I had to do. Time to take stock; prioritise — focus on what matters and manage my time better. Be more disciplined.

It is time for me to remember the small half-halts and corrections that come with riding from my seat. It’s all about the quality and balance of you, your horse and your life; learning to trust yourself and love your life. We are all just pony-mad kids at heart.

I have such admiration for all of you that manage to juggle your lives and your horses. You make it look easy and it definitely isn’t. My horses are my sanity, my precious little piece of a little girl’s dream that I still want to keep alive.

Ref Horse & Hound; 23 March 2017