As someone who is often called a “grumpy old woman”, I suppose my New Year’s resolution should be to be less grumpy. I can’t help being old!
Trouble is, I get even more grumpy when grumpiness is confused with saying it like it is — and curbing that is something I can’t resolve to do. I know it gets me into trouble but in a year when equine welfare, training and team selection will be topical, someone’s got to do it.
As I added my plaque for an unexpected inter II second at Hickstead CDI last year to my others, I realised I’ve competed internationally for 51 years. Must make that 52 years…
And I want to perform better, not necessarily with a win, but a higher percentage. My best competing days are behind me, but continuing refreshes my teaching — something that should be on every trainer’s list.
I still have lessons; discussing things with various experts is nearly as useful as the tuition. We’re lucky the “you can only go to one trainer” ethos is less prevalent nowadays.
Every morning in winter I’m almost in tears with pain. But I smother myself in Voltarol, dose up with paracetemol and off I go. Our riding school is the oldest Riding for the Disabled centre in the country; and if it’s good enough for them, surely I can keep riding one more year?
“Fit not fat” and “mind over matter” remain my personal goals. Although, since the nanny state arrived, I mutter those only to myself.
So what’s “on trend” for 2020? Bling and colour themes, which I like; although with so much orange on one rider, I spent the entire show thinking they were from the Netherlands.
The quest for kind horsemanship must continue in 2020 with correctly fitted bridles, smaller spurs, softer whips and round — but not too round — horses.
On education, my biggest wish is for one umbrella encompassing British Dressage (BD), British Showjumping (BS), British Eventing (BE), the BHS qualifications and UKCC. Sitting beside a fellow Fellow on an FBHS day, I was asked if I’d be interested in forming a group to give us older experts a platform to educate younger trainers. Of course I would, but how do you get all on-side?
A bigger wish is to enlist some of the brilliant up-and-coming coaches into the FBHS or BHSI ranks; but we’d need huge changes to woo BD, BE and BS. I’d also like to see a big, established riding school of the Wellington/Ingestre/Talland variety in every county. And let’s not leave career development to the colleges; one bakes bread in a bakery, not a classroom.
Olympic medals top everyone’s wish list. For Tokyo, we need horses to stay sound and Carl Hester to maintain his magic. With himself, Charlotte Dujardin and Gareth Hughes, we have three fairly firm team combinations. As for the next in line, Lottie Fry has earned her colours, Emile Faurie often comes from nowhere to somewhere, Spencer Wilton is due back out in 2020 and my long shot is Sonnar Murray-Brown with Erlentanz.
Here’s to an action-packed 2020 in which the love of horses is never forgotten.
Ref Horse & Hound; 9 January 2020