Laura Tomlinson: My father made me want to do better and be better *H&H Plus*


  • In her exclusive H&H column, Laura pays tribute to her late father, reflects on what lockdown has meant for herself and her horses, and shares her ambitions for 2021...

    Just over a month ago, I lost my father to a rare type of blood cancer, and the past few weeks have been most surreal. Lockdown had put our lives on hold, yet such a monumental event still happened during this period and time has not slowed down.

    My dad was the most generous man, both with his resources and with his time. He had a vast amount of knowledge on a vast number of subjects and he never stopped educating himself.

    He also had a wicked sense of humour and he loved in a way that few people do – with his whole heart. My mother and father had been together since their teens, and anyone who has had the privilege of being near them as a couple will have drawn inspiration from their relationship.

    My dad loved as a father, as a grandfather and as a friend, and he was the person who I would call with any problem. To me he was the man who always told me the truth, who supported me in the most all-encompassing way and who made me want to do better and be better.

    I cannot begin to describe the feelings of grief that come over me in waves, but I could not start my H&H column without putting down some words for my dad and thanking him for everything that he has given to me through our relationship and through his example.

    “I will be on a mission for tokyo”

    Lockdown has given us all some time to reflect. The environment has definitely benefited and hopefully, despite the losses we have endured, this pandemic will have taught us all about a few things we can do without or do differently.

    Those of us who live on site with our horses have had the luxury of being able to continue to exercise them and this has certainly given me a lot in recent weeks. My horses take me to a very mindful place and they respond so incredibly kindly to our emotional needs.

    My horses have had plenty of paddock time too and are enjoying staying fit and supple, but are not being worked at peak performance level. I am trying to maintain them at a level that means I can have them competition-ready within a couple of weeks, but at which I am not causing any wear and tear on their tendons and joints.

    They are all progressing really well without the pressure of competition, as we can focus on the basics and on suppleness, which are especially important at a time when osteopaths, physios and massage therapists are not able to come to the yard to do their usual treatments.

    My young grand prix horses in particular have had some time to become more established in their work and build strength.

    Our horses enjoy plenty of hacking out and I have been appreciating the quiet time with them – away from my three children and the chaos of home-schooling. Saying that, my horses have definitely become more immune to sudden noises and flashes of mayhem in and around the arena!

    I’ve tried to keep on top of my fitness, too, but have had to do so in bite-sized circuits as with three kids at home, it’s hard to find large enough chunks of time to do any more.

    If the Tokyo Olympic Games can go ahead in 2021, I will be on a mission to be there with one of my wonderful horses. I’m hungry to represent my country again in the sport for which my father and I shared such a passion.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 21 May 2020