Happy New Year to all! I hope you enjoyed the festive period — the aftermath is never usually as exciting. Dry January, the gym and strapping myself to a treadmill is usually what the New Year entails for me.
My eventers are all back in from their holidays too. They usually have a couple of weeks on the walker and hacking around the village and then start trotting a bit more intensively down the lanes and roads. It seems like a tedious task at the time, but it’s essential for the fitness of the horses. It prepares their bodies and muscles too and gets them ready to start schooling. I also think by the time the horses are fit, the team could prepare an Ordnance Survey Map of Lound and the surrounding villages.
While the horses are getting fit, it’s also my main priority too. I don’t know about anybody else, and before I say any more, I do appreciate that there are undoubtedly some amazingly strong-willed New Year’s resolutioners out there, but I find January one of the hardest and most mentally challenging months. We make all these promises to ourselves on New Year’s Eve that can actually make us feel very low and disappointed with ourselves after a few days or weeks.
I got really quite low at the end of November and during December, which is pretty normal for me at that time of year. I think that because my main job is as an event rider, you kind of feel you have no sense of purpose at that point. Everything’s in the field, the yard’s quieter and March still seems so far away. So when I got to the end of December, I didn’t make any big resolutions or set milestones I could become obsessed about in 2019. Being somebody who is massively critical of themselves anyway, and applies pressure even when there’s no reason to do so, I didn’t think it would have been a very good idea. Instead, I just want to take every day as it comes, good, bad or indifferent, and concentrate on being the best I can be. I know what I’d like to achieve this year and that only hard work, blood, sweat, tears and determination is going to get me there. I’ll have good days and I’ll have sh*t days, so for me it’s easier taking them a day at a time, rather than planning too far ahead as to what I’ll have ticked off come 2020.
My wife has been obsessed about getting the stud up and running this year with the stallions we have. I’m not going to lie, at first I nodded along, pretending to be listening to her while really watching TV. But after a few things were thrown at me which meant actually getting into it myself, I never thought I’d hear the day I’d be looking forward to going to the stallion show at Addington in February. Breeding horses hasn’t always been my favourite thing to do and I’d never paid that much attention to it, but I’m really enjoying the stallions and having two standing at stud this year. The only thing Victoria hasn’t convinced me of yet is that watching the same dressage test over and over again at a British Dressage show isn’t like watching paint dry!
I am going to continue to donate all prize money I win to charity in 2019, and I can reveal the first charity I will be continuing to support is Mind. I am officially a registered champion for Mind’s Time To Talk Campaign, which is an amazing project, encouraging everybody who has been or is still suffering from any mental health condition to talk about it.
On 7 February I will be speaking publicly on social media about my own mental health issues and will openly discuss this and answer any questions people may have. I find it really upsetting how many people took their own lives in 2018, and a number of them have been related to the equestrian world. It’s far too easy to be OK in public, put on a brave face and sweep everything under the carpet. More people can get help if we make what is such a difficult subject OK to talk about.
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We’ve been on a mission at the yard to get everywhere painted and tidied up, which is an annual thing for us to do. I thought I could reduce the typical time frame of two weeks to paint the yard to four days by getting a paint spray gun attached to a compressor. It was a good job I decided to start with the outside of the building as a test run. I managed to cover myself, the floor and had a ‘Massimo’ moment on the wall. After eventually getting to grips with it, and rectifying the ghostbuster-like splodge, we soon had the yard finished.
We’re off to London this weekend for the Breeders Awards Dinner and launch of the Competition Stallions Guide. Then it’s time to crack on and start schooling the horses ready for the first events in March!
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