Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: the countdown is on

Time waits for no one – the clock keeps ticking and the countdown is on. Our charity race is less than a week away and it’s Badminton in only six weeks time!

Although some of my recent challenges have been blinking testing, I generally thrive on a challenge and having this race as a focus over the winter has been really great. With no hiding place from the scales in racing, I have shed a stone and a half and I am very proud that we’ve already exceeded the fundraising target and raised £2,295 for St Michaels Hospice – the hugest thank you to everyone that’s so generously supported and sponsored me.

Further thanks go to my good friend Rebecca Davies, who runs Hereford racecourse, for suggesting I should take part in the race; to jockeys’ agent Chris Broad for his help and support behind the scenes; and to trainer David Dennis for providing the horse for me. This week I went and sat on the lovely Marquis of Carabas, who gave me a great feel so am really looking forward to race day on Tuesday!

Getting race day ready on the gallops

Badminton has thrown up another challenge – with the confirmed entries now out, I am disappointed to be 20th on the wait list, especially having been placed in the top 30 at Badminton and Burghley last year. This, however, is completely out of my control so I’m totally pragmatic about it and ‘what will be, will be’. The main thing is that Miley is in stupendous form at the moment – he had his first run of the season at Tweseldown and felt the best he’s felt for years… I couldn’t stop smiling or patting him! I’m very hopeful that we will still get our chance to compete at this world famous event, but all the time he is feeling so fab, we have options.

I have touched on my change of circumstances in a previous blog and so now it’s time to face up the next big challenge ahead of me. I have had a good career doing what I’ve done up until now through training/producing/riding horses, teaching and selling the odd one, but it is now time for me to diversify and look laterally into other career options moving forward. Having given up my yard at the end of last year and having been limited physically by how much I have been able to do recently, I have tried to make the best use of this ‘time out’.

I have leased out my beautiful home bred advanced horse, Romany Piper – I would love to have done a four-star (now five-star) on her, but the reality is, it’s all extremely expensive and unfeasible at this stage and so she has gone to someone to give them more experience and to be their Tokyo Olympics back-up horse.

I have recently done some filming work for commercials and have enjoyed learning more about the racing industry from various different angles. I am now very much exploring the next step and looking into possible career path options, whether it be in eventing, racing or education… maybe one of you readers may have a suggestion/opportunity for me?! It’s a daunting challenge, but also potentially a very exciting one!

Talking further of challenges, our first event of the season at Moreton threw up yet another one – with horses loaded and ready to leave the yard at 5am, the electric ramp waved the white flag and refused to go up. The recovery/breakdown service failed to resolve the problem so it came down to good old fashioned brute force and ignorance to get it up! I finally drove out of the yard at 7.45am but everyone at Moreton simply couldn’t have been more helpful and accommodating, from shuffling our times, driving me around the cross-country course and taking away any stress that had built up due to our lorry issues causing us to be so late! It was definitely worth persevering though as both horses went superbly and we came home with some prize money. Again, I couldn’t have done it without the support of lots of people, owners and friends who constantly help to make it all possible.

Catching up with Andrew Nicholson at Moreton. Credit: William Carey

A quick stint in truck hospital, resulting in a four figure bill, meant the lorry had the appropriate treatment and was back to full health for our next event at Tweseldown. It was nice to kick start the event by being first horse on the cross-country course and I had a really fun ride resulting in another rosette.

I have rambled extensively about the effects of my mastectomy in previous blogs, so will keep things on the subject brief in this one. Although only attempting sitting trot for the first time since the operation about one minute before I went up the centre line, it was actually better than expected – new boobs are definitely not a fan of the body protector squishing them though! The legs are getting better all the time, but at this stage are more of a problem – the long scars down the insides of my thighs are still very tender so don’t overly appreciate rubbing on the saddle/stirrup leathers. Although I don’t really understand how technically it works having had muscle removed from them, they are quite weak and it will take a bit of time to build fitness/strength back in them.

Continued below…



With the younger horses having been balloted from Gatcombe this weekend, we’re diverting to Pyecombe for some showjumping practice instead. This means Miley can also join the party and do a couple of the bigger classes ready for Belton the following weekend where he’s doing the advanced.

The next time I write will be after my charity race so I’ll look forward to sharing how it went with you all soon.

Nana

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