The diary of the home-made livery yard: are you treating yourself in the way you treat others?

  • We have all survived Christmas and New Year here at South Woolley, and are now tackling ‘real’ winter, head on.

    Christmas was really good fun, if not without elements of drama. My eldest son set his favourite Christmas present (a toy remote control boat) on fire within 24 hours of having opened it and the whole house nearly went up in flames! Luckily the inferno was intercepted by my husband, just in the nick of time.

    We had my husband’s large family round for Christmas dinner and they all stayed the night, meaning the adults could enjoy themselves ‘properly’. Foolishly, we had forgotten to buy any soft drinks or mixers, so when the wine ran out, our only option was to play a type of alcohol-themed Russian roulette.

    We each took it in turns to rummage through the depths of the spirits cupboard in our kitchen (a dusty, eclectic collection of random bottles won by my husband at several household auctions, those given to us as gifts over the years and some salvaged from a pub that was shutting down) and concoct a round of shots or shooters.

    Christmas shots

    Some were truly inspired and surprisingly good. Others were simply horrific and you wouldn’t wish them upon your worst enemy. After the fourth or fifth round, however, everybody seemed to be far too jovial to care. It was, indeed, a very merry Christmas.

    What goes up, must come down and it would be fair to say that Boxing Day on the yard was something of a struggle, for me. I’m sure you can imagine. You don’t need to, however, as I have provided comedy photographic evidence below. This photo was taken in the middle of my third stable out of 11. Mucking out was rather slow and painful — my delicate state only mildly improved by round two of Christmas dinner and cheeseboard at morning tea break. I refrained from the port.

    Me going through Boxing Day hell

    New Year was a quiet affair at home with my husband and the kids. Our eldest daughter is at the age, now, where she is keen to partake in the countdown. I battled to keep my eyes open until midnight, but found my second wind and danced around the living room with her to Craig David’s performance on the telly.

    I have always been a big New Year person. In years gone by, it would have been for the wild, debaucherous parties. These days, I am more excited by the resolutions, goal-setting, dreams and aspirations for the coming year aspect.

    As a coach, I am very familiar with setting goals and making plans as to how to achieve them. It is an amazing feeling to be able to help riders realise their goals and celebrate with them in what are often very hard won successes.

    January is, of course, the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and implement any changes that we might like to see for the following year.

    We sit back and take stock of what we have achieved and note any goals that slipped through our fingers. We analyse what we liked in 2019 and what we didn’t like; what went well, what didn’t go well; what we want more of in our life and what we want less of.

    And then, my favourite part… the dreaming. The part where you let your imagination run wild and fantasise about your perfect 2020. All followed by the practical planning of how you are going to accomplish it. I find it all really thrilling and exciting. The start of a new year is so full of hope and dreams.

    Me on Christmas Day

    Personally, I tend to let the heady buzz of Christmas and New Year celebrations die down a little bit before I do my own reflecting and contemplation.

    Usually, I make a long list of professional goals for the coming year — exams, competitions, new skills to achieve etc. — and spend the following 12 months rushing around like a lunatic, making it all happen.

    This year, my ‘resolution’, as it were, is to allow myself to take my foot off the gas pedal a little bit. I have worked incredibly hard over the past five years, building and setting up the yard. I trust myself enough to know that I won’t allow my career to come to a standstill without a concrete list of goals and I will still keep gently plugging away at all the things that are important to me (such as my BHS exams, my riding and my BD judge training). I have already proven that I can ‘do it all’ and stretch myself in multiple different directions, while working a physically demanding full-time job and parenting three small children.

    This year is going to be about resting when it is needed, without the pressure of a mammoth list of boxes to tick. Well, I shall try it, at least. If nothing at all has been achieved by summer, I might have to reassess and give myself a kick up the arse!

    Another theme for me for 2020 is going to be about practising what I preach.

    As a coach, I show lots of kindness and compassion to my riders (if any of my clients are reading this, please stop rolling around on the floor, laughing — you are showing me up). For some reason, I really struggle to show the same warmth to myself. I wouldn’t dream of talking to a client the way that I talk to myself — they would never come back! I know I am not alone in this, having spoken to other riders and trainers. You will probably have heard of the common technique of thinking to yourself, when having a tough time or in a situation that you are unsure of, ‘What would *insert name of your horsey hero or mentor, here* say or do?’

    I endeavour to use this method, this year, putting a little spin on it, and asking myself, ‘What would I say to somebody else in my situation?’ I can hazard a guess that it would be, for example, much less, ‘What a stupid mistake, you bleedin’ idiot! You know better than this!’ and much more, ‘You have been under a lot of pressure, lately. I know you are frustrated with yourself, but it is totally understandable that you would make a mistake when you are so tired’ etc. etc.

    I think a lot of us are guilty of beating ourselves up, mentally. I intend to be a bit less of a bully to myself in 2020.

    Continued below…

    I don’t know if this next bit counts as a resolution or a goal, as such, but there is currently a big horse-shaped hole in my life. I love riding, schooling and competing other people’s horses (pictured top riding Emily Skerrett’s ‘Giant’). But it’s just not quite the same as having your own, is it? Heres hoping that 2020 could be the year that I treat myself to a four-legged, furry best friend!

    Katy x

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