Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: life was turned upside down in 2018

I’m told I have a RBF (resting bitch face) — harsh, especially as I feel I’m generally warm and smiling internally… but possibly there’s an element of truth in it!

A face however, that I know I have developed over the years of competing horses, is my GF (game face) — the one that goes on when I get on a horse at a big competition, when I zone out from day to day issues and focus on the task in hand.

During the past nine months I’ve had to deploy the GF on a more regular basis while trying to deal with a head injury that took six months to clear, and more recently, facing up and kicking on through having a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

For more than 20 years, I have been lucky enough that I have been able to make a living out of my hobby and passion — training and competing lots of wonderful four-legged friends, going on fabulous road trips with memorable adventures around the most stunning of UK and European venues, making lifelong, like-minded friends along the way, all while being paid for it. Not bad, huh?! Yes, there’s a huge amount of hard work, long hours and sacrifice involved, but the rewards can be plentiful with a fantastic quality of life and lifestyle. The inevitable ups, downs and lots in between have all been part of life’s rich tapestry of learning curves and an invaluable training ground of character building experiences.

Last year I felt lucky enough to have the best team of horses, owners and staff that I’ve ever had. Although I realise I’ve also been lucky enough to have largely remained injury-free during my career, being self-employed and reliant on being physically fit meant that these back-to-back pair of setbacks significantly compromised everything.

Despite my best efforts, it left the business haemorrhaging money and forced me to give up the yard and rethink everything moving forwards. I’m viewing this enforced break as a silver lining to the dark cloud I’ve been under recently and am trying to make constructive use of this time to explore various avenues and try to now find the best way of creating some financial stability for my myself and my five-year-old son, Toby in the future.

Toby enjoying pushing me around in a wheelchair at Olympia five weeks after my operation!

With horses and our magical sport very much in my blood and heart, I’m still going to keep a couple of horses, but do it all on a very much smaller and different scale for now.

Over the next three months, I’ll be blogging for H&H about my recent journey — why I had the mastectomy, details of the surgery, updates of my recovery, moving yards, trying to get back on my feet again physically and mentally, exploring lateral career options, life as a single mum, my steps to prepare for riding in the St Michaels Hospice charity race at Hereford racecourse in March, plus the build up to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in May with our phenomenal home-bred horse, Absolut Opposition (Miley), where we’ll be hoping to make our third appearance on that hallowed turf in Gloucestershire (pictured top competing there in 2017).

I could wax lyrical forever about Miley, but if you’d like to know more about how amazing he is, you can flick through my Instagram/Facebook posts or previous blogs I’ve done for H&H. Also, in case someone would like to join in the five-star fun and shared experience of owning Miley who is aimed at Badminton and Burghley this year, there is one remaining share available to join in the ‘Mileys Friends’ Syndicate!

Nana x

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