I am constantly surprised by the kindness of strangers who are prepared to help me in my moment of need….
The last few weeks have been up and down and just a little on the challenging side! Some of you will know that I had been trying to find a ‘good home’ for Horse Hero, the web business I founded in 2008, for some time….and failed! However, I have been reflecting and what a journey and a privilege it’s been. In the beginning, it was a way of combining my entrepreneurial instincts (I have never been employed) with my passion for horses whereas previously business and horses were separate and an amount of guilt was involved in spending time with the latter.
For me, Horse Hero has been an amazing personal tutorial with many top riders and trainers, resulting in upwards of 1000 videos which have been watched by hundred thousand plus equestrians. My own riding and horsemanship has improved beyond recognition and armed with such an extensive tool-kit of information and ideas, I have been confident to train on my own using an intuitive connection with my horses to work things out. It was one of the aims of the site in fact – to create a ‘sushi bar’ of ideas that people could dip into and try with their own horse (without the constant need for a trainer) and enhance the connection with their horse in the process.
Finally, this week, things reached some sort of conclusion and I sold the videos to a top British home, so the legacy will continue in due course, though the website will close and I am treating myself to a brief period of ‘professional resting’ once the resulting paperwork is done. One unexpected and happy consequence was that after sending out an email to site users informing them of the sad news that Horse Hero will be going off-line, I was overwhelmed by the response from so many people who have loved the site just as much as me and similarly used it to transform their own riding and relationship with their horses. That is more important than anything and really perked me up after a sense of loss, which I am pleased to say is now giving way to a new-found feeling of freedom.
Other smaller-scale challenges have mostly involved things breaking or going wrong, for instance, persistent internet issues which led to inevitable and frustrating altercations with BT and an insultingly small amount of compensation, the quad bike and topper breaking down in unison (why does the topper always lets me down in the middle of the growing season when I have 10 acres to keep under control?!) and a few teething issues with the new biomass boiler which I am otherwise thrilled with. It has an integral oven and in the absence of a suitable man, I have fallen in love! But it’s at times like these when being non-mechanically or technically minded, living on my own in the wilderness, leaves me feeling isolated.
I indulged in a tantrum when the mower gave up. Thank God no-one was here to see me jumping up and down and screaming at it. But after a quick reality check “you are not a refugee in a sinking boat!”, I reclaimed some composure and focused on finding a solution which I always believe is possible; each situation in life is a puzzle to be solved and when you are balanced and intend for positive outcomes, you open yourself to a divine intervention which can produce the most extraordinary things. I am constantly surprised by the kindness of strangers who are prepared to help me in my moment of need, including a neighbour I didn’t know until recently, a retired Concorde engineer named Alan. Alan shared the ‘topper’ stress with me, got it going and provided email support afterwards which necessitated the acquisition of some tools, so my new mantra is ‘a girl’s best friend is her spanner!’
I really don’t know where the days go; it’s a good job there is light until nearly 10 at night now, because daylight hours are a whirlwind of busyness punctuated by occasional small moments to appreciate the beauty around me, my animals, my home and the life that I have. I can’t deny it’s physically hard work doing the horses and maintaining the land, plus training Talisman and working on my own fitness (in addition to the everyday necessities of life and work, of course). But it’s marvellous to be outside most of the time, having spent a large chunk of my professional life in an office not seeing the light of day, let alone the seasons of the year. As a result, I am fitter and lighter now than at any time in my adult life except in my rowing years!
Talisman and I have a little over a week to go until our next international 120K. I am just about winning the ‘battle of the bulge’ (his not mine), or should have by time I load him into the trailer and drive out of the yard! His peak fitness week was last week in extremely hot weather (bummer!) but just as well as it turned out, as I have now lost the use of my two large undulating canter fields to hay and spent hours driving round the countryside looking for other suitable fields to do his last few sessions.
Fortunately, I have found one field up the road that’s just been cut. It’s small by comparison but good enough and another massive field, also just cut, a short trailer drive away. We did make a couple of trips to the gallops in the last few weeks (partly to practise going away from home again) but it’s nearly 2 hours each way and I don’t want to tire him travelling again so close to the competition.
His saddle has been widened and completely re-flocked and adjusted twice since the re-flocking (I should buy shares in the saddlery company) so I am hoping all is well on that front after some issues of the past. Talisman’s teeth have been done, he had physio’ yesterday and, overall, he feels ready. He gets his go-faster pads with a new set of shoes next week and I go into Purdah shortly to plan and pack. I am also saying my prayers that the weather is kind. I have competed at this venue in minus 10 and 30 plus degrees and don’t wish to repeat either experience!
Filming pics: Me interviewing at an event; Dr and Mrs Bechtolsheimer during filming with Laura at their home; following Edward Gal and Totilas through the Hickstead Masters the first time they set a world record!