As a horse owner and rider in this current climate, my mind is a bit like a carousel with no stop button.
There are so many questions — to ride or not to ride? Turned away or ticking over? How fit should they stay? Or for that matter, how fat can they get?
I just seem to go around and around and around… and around… never arriving at an end point or a natural conclusion.
I’m enjoying the down time but I miss being busy, I’m loving picking up hobbies I never have time for usually, but there is a big part of me that would really rather be out jumping.
With no definitive idea about when we’ll be allowed to compete, or train, or in some cases, visit our horses again — there’s just one giant question mark. I guess one that hangs over everyone, all over the world. Horsey or not.
At first, I was gutted not to be able to be out competing. We had a good campaign out in Oliva Nova (video below) and I was really keen to build on that this year. But disappointment is not exactly unusual when you work with horses, is it? It gives way to acceptance eventually. We deal with it and move on.
More time on my hands has meant a lot more time to think about ways to do my bit when it comes to sustainability and protecting the planet. Apart from using sustainability produced products where possible, we are being diligent about reusing and recycling on the yard. I’ve changed over to using small bales of hay, which means no plastic covers and I keep all my used twine, ball it up and give it away to be reused. We’ve been getting into the gardening a lot more and I find my old supplement containers all have second jobs there.
With the horses all at home, I’ve been spending quality time with them. They are all having lazy days in the sunshine and lots of lovely grooming treatments using my natural and environmentally friendly products from Honest Riders. It keeps their skin in great shape, gets the blood circulating and stimulates the muscles, which is so important to their overall health.
I’ve also been getting these very pretty horses in front of the camera! Not only have I been playing around making some videos with my phone for my social media platforms, I’ve also been taking some photos that aren’t just selfies of me with a random muzzle eating my hair. The pictures have been a nice way to create memories but also provide my supporters updates or with materials they can use to promote their products.
Recently, I made a little video of me showing how I use the FMBS Systems Activo Med rug which has been especially useful of late. I don’t fancy myself as a television presenter and I actually feel kind of awkward, but I enjoyed doing something I’m not super comfortable with. I feel like you have to take a risk and put yourself out there to connect with people. I’m sure there are so many others out there who feel a bit nervous about that but I really want to send a message about inclusivity in our sport. It’s important that we all feel supported in our passion and like we have a community around us. Especially now.
Although it’s difficult, I have been tempted to make plans for the future and while they have to be flexible, I’m still focussing on getting back to the shows that I love — eventually. I really wanted to feel like I was being proactive so I’ve put pen to paper and created not just plan A, but also B and C and even D!
Speaking of proactive, I’ve been getting prepared by having a good sort through my show gear and tack, looking for gaps and selling off the things I’ve been hoarding for far too long. It’s very satisfying when the old piece of leatherwork or bit you have three of finds a new home with someone who has been after one. Upcycling with a bit of community spirit!
I’ve also realised it is more than time to refresh my saddle pad situation. With the old ones falling apart, is there anything like fresh, new competition saddle pads? It’s probably the equestrian equivalent of new bed sheets!
I’m also in the process of putting together a new (human) show wardrobe. I’m really enjoying looking around for brands who make the kinds of pieces I want to wear, a lot of whom — like Lord and Lady Equestrian — design or manufacture here in Britain. There’s nothing like a bit of retail therapy to cheer you up, particularly if it can benefit a smaller, local business in a really tough climate.
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I’ve joined in with Zoom pilates and yoga sessions for riders, and I think that really illustrates what I think the best part to come from all this for me has been. Seeing all the positivity and the growth in the sense of community among us horsey folk. I love working alongside others who are reaching out on social media with new tips and tricks to stay positive and active.
I think that while this pandemic has so many negatives attached to it, when it comes to our horses, we must try to find positivity in the things we have and can do rather than focussing on our disappointment over the things we don’t and can’t.
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