Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: life can be rough but we only get one shot at it, so do what makes you happy

  • I started my recent H&H blog post referring to my RBF — a ‘resting bitch face’ may be something I’m stuck with but I’m definitely smiling within and feeling incredibly happy these days!

    Wow, what a difference a year can make! This time last year, I’d just come around from a 10-hour operation and things were quite frankly pretty miserable. Now, I’m waking up feeling extra grateful to have my health fully restored and am benefitting from decisions that I made as a result of those tougher/darker days. So many clichés spring to mind and I don’t want to overdo them, but out of something bad really has come something good — the physical and mental battering I endured really has made me stronger and time really is a great healer.

    I’m now able to put behind me all the woes entailed with the surgery, and last week I completed my final stage of the mastectomy/reconstruction procedure. My wonderful friend, Helen (we met through the Pony Club aged about five!) has been a great hospital buddy and last week made the return journey with me to East Grinstead Hospital. Lots of these recent experiences have been somewhat surreal, so this was another random one as we sat together choosing what colours my new nipples should be tattooed (apparently the darker shade is currently more fashionable!). We did however fail in our attempts to persuade the nurse to give Helen a matching tattoo to symbolise the moment… but we will be back for a ‘colour touch up’ in the New Year so it may still happen then!

    Lifelong friends, Helen and I at Petworth Park… a while ago!

    There has been a lot of change for me in the past year, but there are a couple of goals in the spring which remain the same. Miley (pictured top) will be gearing up to be entered at Badminton for the fifth time — twice he’s run brilliantly, one time we withdrew as he wasn’t quite right and this year he just missed the cut to get in off the waitlist. Here’s very much hoping that he’s in great order in 2020 and we get the chance to shine back at our favourite event in May.

    After the frustration and disappointment of missing out on being able to ride in the charity race I’d prepped for this March, I’ve been invited to take part in another one. With the radio regularly reminding me that it should be ‘yes-vember’ instead of ‘no-vember’, I allowed this theory to dictate when agreeing to do it and am already very excited at the prospect. It’s going to be at Newbury on Saturday 29 February and for the wonderful Greatwood Charity, so for those wanting a fun day out, do put this in your calendar to come along and support!

    While Miley has been enjoying a three-month holiday since Burghley, I’ve been enjoying riding out and schooling racehorses for parents of one of Toby’s new school/Pony Club buddies (…I wonder if they’ll be getting tattoos together in 35 years time?!). I have loved learning more on the racing front from trainer, Rob Walford and it has been fantastic playing a small part in a team that I have huge respect for. We might be in different disciplines but there is a huge crossover in training event horses and racehorses — none more so than aiming to have happy, healthy horses. A winner at Sandown and then magical back to back wins in the Becher Chase at Aintree with Walk In The Mill over the weekend only goes to reflect what a fabulous job they do and is a great reward for all their hard work, care and attention to detail.

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    Personally, riding three lots most mornings is keeping my fitness ticking over this winter, and I’m sure Miley will be all in favour that I’m getting used to jumping fences at speed without too much interfering! He now has his shoes back on and has started his conditioning work ready for the season ahead… and if anyone is looking for a Christmas present with a difference or a fun interest for next year, there are a couple of shares available to join the ‘Miley’s Friends’ syndicate, where you can enjoy sharing the experience of owning a horse preparing and competing at the top level at a fraction of the price!

    So before I sign off for the year, life can be rough and is often about compromise, but we only get one shot at it, so my advice will be do what makes you happy!

    Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas 🎄😊


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