The diary of the home-made livery yard: please be kind to yourselves

  • Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

    I truly hope everyone had a lovely time celebrating Christmas in whatever ways were allowed this year. I have decided any cheese not eaten by this point needs to be removed from the premises immediately. I had a dream last night about shooting down a water slide that landed in a swimming pool of rather unpleasant looking, cold fondue. It is time, Katy. It is time.

    We move forward into 2021 with Coronavirus still playing a huge role in all of our lives, our jobs and our businesses. Last Christmas, all this difficulty lay ahead of us. But I, for one, feel very hopeful that this is the year that we move forward and away from the dark clouds of Covid-related adversity.

    There are lots of things that I wish for in 2021, but one of them is that my friends who work for the NHS be able to perform their jobs each day, without the fear and stress that comes from working around and among the virus. If we can get everyone safely vaccinated, then I would be perfectly happy for a large wedge of tax payers’ money to be spent on sending every NHS worker, supermarket worker and essential worker off, in batches, for a month in Barbados.

    I idly scrolled back through my livery yard Facebook page on Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t help but notice how much we have managed to achieve here at South Woolley, despite the government restrictions, this year. Lessons were taught and training continued, when it was allowed. Clinics were attended and clients got out to any competitions that they could. I’ve been impressed how my clients have fought the temptation to drown themselves in a vat of gin, despairing, “What is the point?!” and kept their motivation levels up. If you didn’t manage that, not to worry… New Year resolutions are here to help anyone in need of recovery from 2020-related drink habits.

    Katy Malone

    Pumpkin, the foal

    A beautiful foal was born at South Woolley in June, which lifted our spirits and provided us all with endless hours of entertainment and giggles. And puppies. There were lots of puppies! Clients brought sweet and tiny, little woofers to the yard and I jumped on the bandwagon and got a new faithful friend in terrier pick ‘n’ mix, Chloe.

    Katy Malone

    Me with Chloe

    We made it to Keysoe one-star para-dressage international with Emily Skerrett and Carol Pearson’s Clint (pictured with me, top), where I learnt that two double gin and tonics (I’m currently a bit of a lightweight and out of practise) is too many to be able to competently sew a GB flag onto a jacket. There was plenty of swearing and unpicking of stitches after I realised quite how wobbly and drunken the badge looked on the lapel. A second attempt, switching from gin to prosecco, and plenty of, “Pull yourself together, Katy! For God’s sake, woman, you are sewing for Great Britain!” proved more successful.

    Katy Malone

    Me doing some drunken sewing!

    I also learnt that the trot up for an international is not something to be taken lightly. There are commentators, a crowd of spectators and photographers. And everyone runs really, really fast! I will dress up in my finery next time, and if I start an Olympic sprint training programme now I’ll be ready for the next international event.

    I am blessed with an amazing support team, who enable me to go away like this occasionally. My super freelancer, Abby, took care of the yard flawlessly, while my father heroically helped out with my children (starting at 4am — he got an appropriately large bottle of whiskey for his birthday!).

    Katy Malone

    Me riding Jen Parker’s Caspar

    Some things can’t be left at home however, and Emily’s lorry hilariously became my office for electronically receiving solicitor letters and court papers, in-between plaiting and warm-ups and tests.

    Always a big believer in multi-tasking, I also had a one-hour telephone couselling session in the grounds of Keysoe and a therapy session in Emily’s lorry via Whatsapp over our three day stay. These things are really important to me and I feel they must have time made for them, no matter what else is going on. I am not ashamed of being in counselling or therapy. I think it is something to be celebrated.

    Katy Malone

    Kate and Debbie

    I had a new carpet gallop arena surface laid this autumn — an occasion that reduced me to tears (I am getting soppy in my old age) as clients, neighbours and friends all turned up to help me complete the first big project I’ve taken on since my husband left. They were all completely conned into it. I promised everyone a party in return for their help in spreading the surface. But then Boris galliantly saved me from a massive imminent prosecco bill and put us into lockdown again (I haven’t forgotten, folks! I am aware I owe you, big time.).

    I rode my first BD medium test at the end of the summer, which was a tick off my personal goal list. We enjoyed beach rides with stunning photography to take home and treasure from Julia Powney and a single case of strangles infection was successfully tackled, head-on.

    All really not too bad for a very challenging year.

    For me, 2020 has been a year of change and growth in my personal life. I have had to take on new roles, such as ‘part-time, single mother’ and I have run the business on my own, alongside caring for the children for 50% of the time, for the past seven months. I have learnt how to connect gas bottles for our hot water, change a spare tyre on the car, navigate our plumbing and water systems and fix the exhaust when it fell off my beloved 25-year-old Citreon Saxo on Christmas Eve, jeopardising child handovers. I’ve asked for help from family and friends and they have generously provided, often teaching me new skills, so I can be independent in the future.

    Katy Malone


    I fixed the printer when a cufflink got stuck inside of it, fixed the TV so that, God forbid, we didn’t miss out on too much Cbeebies and opened a stuck door lock on my car. In fact, between me and Youtube tutorials and a can of WD40, there is nothing that can’t be done. Or at least temporarily bodged until a proper grown up arrives.

    I am reluctant to set any major professional goals for 2021, as there is still a lot of uncertainty about how much training we can attend. So, rather than specific goals, I am focusing on pathways that I want to set out upon. For example, I feel confident telling you that I really am keen to get back to BD judge training this year. But I won’t set myself a deadline for completing my exams, because Boris might well get in my way and I don’t want to set myself up for unecessary disappointment.

    So, please be kind to yourselves as we embark 2021. We’ve all survived a very trying year with less support, less services, less time with our loved ones and much less freedom than we are used to. And we are not out of the woods, yet. My plan is to keep my chin up, keep smiling, enjoy everything that is still within our grasp and just simply do my best.

    Continued below…

    Like this? You might also enjoy reading these:

    I had a chat with one of my trainers, John Chubb, and my client and friend, Emily, recently. We were talking about how sick and tired we are of staying in, for every special occasion this year, with “a nice bit o’ wine and a nice bit o’ food”. I joked that for New Year’s Eve I might go the other way, for novelty value. I was thinking perhaps a starter of Dairylea Dunkers, followed by a main course of Lucozade and a Pot Noodle? Ooh, fancy!

    I love receiving comments and messages from those of you who humour me enough to read my blog. Please feel free to get in touch with me at any time. Whether it is horses or mental health-related — I love hearing from you. I can be slow to reply sometimes, but I do get there in the end.

    Merry Christmas and a happy, successful New Year to you and your loved ones!

    Katy x

    Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free

    You may like...