Robert Walker: Keep working to stay motivated *H&H Plus*


  • At the start of the 2020 season, I made a mistake and tempted fate. I remember being so excited that we possibly had the best string of horses we have ever had. I was waking up earlier each day in anticipation of working with these beautiful horses; I think I lost a stone with all the riding I was doing.

    While we never usually venture south before Windsor, we were all set to attend the Ponies (UK) Spring Classic at Addington during March, as we were so looking forward to getting the novices out. But then coronavirus kicked off and a brick wall was put up.

    With no shows for the foreseeable future, I did wonder if I’d lose the motivation that was so strong. However, I do think that by the end of the year, we will have had some remnant of a show season; we must think like this if we’re to get through these challenging times. I’m a firm believer that once racing gets under way, showing will follow.

    While I understand the need for big county shows – which rely on numbers through the gates – to postpone until next year, showing is not a huge spectator sport. Therefore, society area shows will hopefully get going and have fixtures for us to attend in the latter part of the year when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we try to carry on as normal.

    My novices are continuing to be worked as if there is a show next weekend. Horses thrive from routine, so five days a week they come out to be schooled or hacked, and we are lucky enough to have ditches and rustic jumps to pop around the estate. Our four-year-olds will probably be better off for not having the pressure of the show ring for another year, but I know myself that if I take my foot off the gas, I will lose my incentive for the job.

    “We all need that mental boost”

    Social media has been frustrating at this time. I have had to unfriend a couple of people because I can’t cope with their negativity around shows that have postponed.

    While our own health and safety as a nation is paramount, the industry needs something to look forward to. As someone who makes a living through attending shows, I find comfort in hearing fixtures have been rescheduled and not just discarded until 2021.

    In short, I have no time for negative comments and I thank positive societies who are making an effort to keep their members engaged. We all need that mental boost.

    We also can’t forget how our children have been affected by the pandemic. Alongside thousands of others, my son Sam was suddenly told his school career was over. While he’s never really liked education, this news hit him hard.

    But I am thankful we live in the countryside and our children can keep busy with ponies, animals and the great outdoors. Consider families who live in built-up areas. I’m sure we wouldn’t switch places for the world.

    A genuine legend

    On another note, I was delighted to see legendary showman Richard Ramsay be given some recognition when he was awarded the 2020 SEIB inspiration award.

    Richard was at the very top of the game when I was just getting into showing. He was very constructive and if you were on a nice horse, he was always the first to say. He was one of the most supportive people in the sport and after all these years, I can honestly say that he’s still exactly the same.

    Richard gives a lot back to the sport and it’s lovely to see him being rewarded for all he has done for grassroots competitors.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 23 April 2020