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“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream,” according to author CS Lewis. So on that note, 2016 needs stepping into with resolve to improve.

Yes, the winter months are horrible, but it’s only our own application that reaps rewards. Note to self: huge amounts of self-motivation required. After all, summer qualifiers are already well under way.

“But I haven’t got time,” is one often heard excuse. Well, riding without stirrups for 10 minutes three times a week really works. It’s a dying art these days — no doubt because the dark cloud of insurance makes many trainers pause — but a supple seat is so essential.

It was top German trainer Christoph Hess who insisted our daughter Pippa ride-in at competitions without stirrups, and with her reins in one hand too. It’s something she always does now; it certainly gets the stewards reaching for their rule books.

Travelling recently to a haven with no mobile phone network made me realise how much these damned devices have taken us over. They’ve shattered our peace by demanding instant answers.

Mobile phones’ very modus operandi is the antithesis of the quiet, concentration and unlimited time one needs when working with horses. So I warn you now, another resolution of mine is regular stints of switched to silence. Happy New Year!

Reaping what you sow

Although turnout and grazing is a priority all year round, so is looking after the spring grass. Leading out for hand-grazing is so timeconsuming — and a luxury for horses on many short-staffed yards, particularly over Christmas. Horse walkers are great, but don’t have the same powers of observation…

How valuable are good staff at times like these? And how many yards take care of them? OK, the jobs must get done, but career training is important too. Reading about the impending shortage of grooms (H&H news, 5 November) makes me ponder that perhaps more time should be given over to improving students’ and apprentices’ riding and teaching?

This is surely the only way to ensure their horizons are broadened when they hit the job market. Even as employers, we only get back what we’re prepared to put in.

It’s always wonderful to admire top trainers, horses and riders at conventions and clinics. And of course it’s inspirational. But what most of the spectators actually want to know is how to improve the norm — themselves and that horse at home. So let’s see a few more normal and even not-so-easy horses at these instructional events, please.

Among the ideas on show at the BETA International trade fair next month (24-26 January) is a machine that cleans tack. It sounds like something from a Wallace & Gromit film — but apparently it’s true.

You put filthy leather tack inside, press a button and, hey presto, it comes out 20 minutes later soft, supple and clean. Every hunting yard in the country will want one.

Cheers for the boys!

Having enjoyed the feature on mothers and daughters (26 November), which mentioned Pippa and me, I must add that the male side of our family is fabulous too.

I would be half the woman without my husband Brian. As for Charlie, I burst with pride watching him ride.

Let’s never forget that our sons have often had to overcome more prejudgment than daughters to become the horsemen they are today.

H&H 31 Dec 15