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    Since monsoon went home earlier in the year, there was a gap, not to mention a field and stable, left empty! For a few months I’ve spent time doing things like housework, cooking, baking, cleaning, attempting to become a good housewife, but let’s be honest here, unless I’m with my horses, doing what I wholeheartedly believe I was put on this earth to do, I’m nothing more than a bored miserable human being. 

    But you have Jasper, I hear you cry... yes I do have Jasper, and as a 2yr old he gets what all baby horses need, time out in the field being a horse! Barring the grooming and the odd show here and there, he requires little more than having the early education of manners and daily care, not long reigning or lunging etc, so yes, while Jasper plays horses, I play housewife! 

    But what about the shop and your coaching I hear you cry again.... well, yes, I run the shop, Kilminsters Equestrian and Pet Supplies, for anyone who may have been living under a rock for the last 6 yrs (!) and I do have a busy coaching schedule, but this is “work”, now if I were to say to you, well you work 40hrs a week and it’s a full on job you do, but you have nothing else apart from that other than keeping a tidy house, I think you might understand my predicament! 

    Anyway, moving on, over the last few months it’s been like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing over and over again, wake up, feed Jasper, do his daily jobs, work, feed Jasper, come home play housewife. Now I realise how lucky I am to even have a horse, don’t get me wrong, I adore Jasper and enjoy watching him “horse”, I love my family and enjoy cooking for them etc, I love coaching, I enjoy watching my little shop evolve and grow year upon year, (with the help of Debbie my Business Partner), however, I need that extra bit of riding, it’s like a drug, I feel like I’ve been cold turkey for months and the withdrawal symptoms have finally won, so we did something to break Groundhog Day, we went to Scotland.....

    My amazingly patient, supportive husband told me to find myself a new horse, (I think he was getting fed up of me being round the house !) so after looking at some while I was sat in the shop last week (12/10/19) I wasn’t overly keen on anything I’d seen, so Dean suggested I contacted Kevin, from Solway Racehorses, the place we got the lovely Harry (mercer’s row) from a couple of years ago, who tragically suffered a field accident and we lost him, I hadn’t been in contact with Kevin since then but hey, nothing ventured...... 

    I sent a Facebook message to Kevin at approx 2pm on the Saturday, by 4pm I had been sent a video and info on a horse called Calvados Spirit, by 4.15pm Dean had booked us a hotel at Preston and arranged to have Jasper covered, as we were off to Scotland that night!

    I finished work in the shop at 5pm , Dean went off to do Jaspers evening duties, I rescheduled the weekends lessons, (thank you ladies!) and by 6.15pm we were driving to Scotland, arriving at the overnight hotel at around 10pm. Morning came, we had breakfast and headed off on the final leg to Canonbie, arriving at 11am as scheduled. 

    This was surreal, I had now met the man who sold me harry, I was in Scotland, I was about to ride a horse, I was saying to myself “what are you doing” over and over, however, the moment I set eyes on Cal (that’s his name now!) it suddenly felt “right”.

    The tricky part was mounting, I have a very dodgy knee which I am awaiting a hospital appointment for as it locks and causes immense pain with no warning, so a leg up was going to be out the question, Cal only finished racing the previous Saturday and was (is!) still racing fit, and they don’t do mounting blocks do they.... well, if I were to ride him, I needed to get on, so Kevin took him to their mounting block and we hoped (prayed?!) he would be ok with it, I fumbled up the block, knee already hurting, one foot in the stirrup and, clumsily mounted, now, a lot of older horses would have questioned this imbecile fumbling around trying to unlock a locked knee to find the other stirrup, let alone a fit 16.2hh racehorse! Yet Cal stood like a rock until I had my stupid leg under control, then we went off for hack, alone, in a place neither of us had been before, unchartered territory, on a horse who I met 10 minutes ago, who hadn’t been out the stable for 2 day, while Kevin and Dean waited back at the Stables! What could possibly have gone wrong... well quite a lot really, mainly my sense of direction, but I decided it would be best not to have to have a search party sent out after us and after 20 minutes or so, we turned for home, Cal didn’t put a hoof wrong, he was an absolute saint. Once we returned back to base, I took him into their school to try him out, he’d been in there once previously, when Kevin’s daughter rode him for the video he sent me, but that was it, however once I got over the stunning views from the arena, we walked, trotted and cantered on both reins even did some trot poles, some transitions and changes of rein, Cal did not feel like a horse who had raced only a week ago, just an uneducated youngster, which at 6yrs old he is, he was so willing and tried to understand what I asked of him, unfazed by the poles on the ground, or the fillers under the jumps we passed, he just did what I asked. I loved him!

    Once we got back into the yard the I had that aweful realisation that I now had to dismount, omg, my knee was firmly locked in the right stirrup and any movement caused me to catch my breath, I was stuck on a 6yr old racehorse! Kevin took hold of his reins while I managed to literally throw my right leg, still in its fixed position, over Cals quarters, with Dean catching me like some kind of superhero! Testimony to Cals temperament right there, he didn’t give a hoot, just looked at me like “what are you doing?”

    So, there we were, Dean agreed to buy Cal for me, but we had to wait on transport, I didn’t want to travel him all that way in a trailer, so Kevin sorted transport out for me. 

    Cal arrived on Thursday 17th October, at 8pm, following an 8hour trip, our yard isn’t accessible to lorries so once again I had to trust that Cals previous good behaviour was going to be continued as he now had to walk, in the pitch black darkness up a long lane, up a muddy field, to his new stable, with me on the end of a rope! This really was madness! However he unloaded and waited while we sorted his passport and stuff out, then walked like a little lamb next to me into the abys, where we were met by a very intregued Jasper! 

    He went to bed and after a while I gave him his supper and left him to chill. 

    By morning he’d woken up to views across the fields and Jasper next to him, and I was greeted with two happy faces. Breakfast eaten and rugs changed, I led him out to his field, unclipped his rope, stood back, but Cal just sauntered off to have a look around, not fussed about running or anything. Calm as a cucumber! That couldn’t be said for Jasper, he left the gate at mac 9 and squealed like anything until Cal went over to say hi!

    Now, day 4 beckons, and in those 3 days he’s been here, he’s not changed a bit, he follows me round like a dog, is so gentle you could leave him with your frail granny, is learning to “horse” with the help of Jasper, and is enjoying life. 

    I‘ve no immediate plans to get on and ride, he’s having some down time and a full MOT before we even begin retraining, but having been asked a lot about why we suddenly ended up travelling to Scotland for a day out (!) this was why... 




    Why do we compare ourselves to others and how is it damaging us?


    In the world we live in its difficult not to be drawn in by what others do, or do not, do, we watch them on our Social Media platforms, we read about it in magazines, we hear about it via other people, the ability to find out what we want to is right at our fingertips via smartphones. With the ever-increasing use of Social Media to show off what we have achieved, purchased, acquired, won, lost, even eaten for our lunch(!!) its hardly surprising that we end up comparing our own lives with that of others. We want what Joe Bloggs has got, and we want it now, simply because they have what you want, even though you probably don’t even need it! In my day we would use the term “Keeping up with the Jones’”!

    A very good example of this would be something I heard only the other day, “I NEED a new saddle”, why? I asked, “well, I was at an event the other day and I was the only person there that had an old style saddle”, my first reaction was “At least you have a saddle!”, “But its old” exclaimed the person, “Yes but you have a saddle which is safe and reliable, suits (and fits!) your horse and is comfortable”, “but it looked old “COMPARED” to the others in there and I felt out of place”. I didn’t bother arguing the toss, I simply nodded and moved on. Now, this person felt that he was not as good as the other people there as they had newer saddles, which made her feel awkward and out of place, which as a knock on action, admitted by her, didn’t help her ride well that day! Well I’m no expert here, however I would say that the other people may not have even noticed her saddle, nor cared about it, but to her, this was a MASSIVE deal, with a real negative effect on her ability to ride purely because she had compared her comfortable, safe and well fitted saddle to other peoples.

    Yes, it’s always nice to have the latest things, whether that be a new saddle, car, trailer, tv, smartphone etc, however we must always start with the question “Do I NEED it?” If the answer to that question is yes, but only to be like *insert whoever’s name here*, then NO you don’t need it!

    When we COMPARE ourselves, our lives, to others we are not living OUR lives, we are living theirs, we may want to ride Dressage tests like  Charlotte, or whoever your idol is, and aiming to be better is a good thing, but if we compare our riding ability to the likes of Charlotte then become disheartened by the fact that we can’t sit to the trot like we are glued to the saddle, this inevitably brings with it disappointment, leading to feelings of failure. All due to comparison.

    The same can be said for training, one of my pet hates is hearing riders say “I cant do that”, and the “THAT” could be literally anything, a recent example is a rider watching someone else jumping, the rider said “Oh I can’t do that, she’s way better than me,” in reality the negativity could easily have been turned around simply by thinking “One day I WILL do that”, she had compared her current ability to that of a rider who had many years experience under her belt and made it look easy, which to her it was, however to the other rider it looked impossible, and all down to comparison.

    Comparison doesn’t always need to be negative though, if we want to use it positively then how about comparing what YOU have achieved, and this can be a simple thing like – I hacked round the block today – OR – Last month I struggled to sit to my horses trot, but today I managed it- these comparisons are positive and rewarding.

    We live in a world fuelled by negativity from every angle, the news reports tragedy and sadness daily, Social Media has its own issues with the infamous keyboard warriors, and to top it all off we are fed images and news of what we SHOULD BE, what we SHOULD DO, how we SHOULD DRESS, what food we SHOULD EAT, and the list goes on!

    In my honest opinion what we SHOULD BE is true to ourselves, work on self-improvement and only ever COMPARE ourselves to ourselves. I’m almost certain that if we put as much effort into improving ourselves, we would be much happier and much more successful.

    Go ahead and see where you can make your changes, let me know!

    Sharon x