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Feel the fear and ride anyway – December 2018

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We’ve all got our fantasies, right? For example, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a sunny midweek hack or curling up on the sofa with a mug of tea and my copy of Horse&Rider before heading out to ride through the exercises, getting each one foot-perfect. This, of course, is very nearly topped by a dressage show where everything goes brilliantly and I duly win all my classes, my white breeches staying perfectly clean despite inclement weather or liberal mud. 

If this all sounds rather time-consuming, I should mention that my husband’s dinner is always on the table when he gets home from work, and I’m totally up-to-date with the washing and housework. I read often, take long baths and go on holiday four times a year, with plenty of money left over to buy things for Pat that he doesn’t really need. 

Back to reality

I’m sniggering now because, although that’s the perfect life on paper, my reality is so far from it – and I couldn’t be happier. I often wake up at 1am, hay still tangled in my knotty hair, having nodded off on the sofa. I get a spare half an hour here and there – usually spent waiting for the farrier – to enjoy my magazine. My bank balance has definitely seen better days and I’m lucky to get a budget holiday once a year. My free time is spent poo-picking, only adding to my musk.

My riding is average at best and filming my H&R vlogs involves at least 10 takes to get something I’m not embarrassed to show you. I’m rarely clean at shows and usually running late, so Pat can often be spotted wearing mud on his legs and bits of hedge in his tail in the lorry park. That’s real life and is it really so bad? Owning horses means that you sacrifice sanity and wealth in equal measures, but the happiness it affords us is worth more than both combined.

The bigger picture

Reality, with all its lumps and bumps, was the watchword when I posted a video of my cross-country round from a recent event on social media. The amount of people who commented about how difficult my horse looked to get around the course was eye-opening. I’ve never hidden this, I just don’t think I’ve ever described how spooky he can be! Usually I post photographs where I’m grinning over the jumps, perhaps looking as though it all comes easily. What a picture fails to show is what it took to get there, how positively I needed to ride or how accurate I had to be. A picture, particularly on social media, reflects a moment in time – and if you’re anything like me, it’ll be a proud moment that you don’t want to forget. It just might not be reflective of reality to a stranger, because neither a picture nor a video clip will ever show the work you’ve put in to get there.

Winter woes

Now that winter is on the way and darker nights are upon us, you might wonder if all that work is worth it. I’m off to put some dates in my diary so I have something to aim towards because the reality is, if I don’t set aside the money now, I’ll probably spend it on heating oil! Set a goal for this winter and get planning – it’ll keep you focused and make the mud much more bearable. Most importantly, keep smiling! Hard work really does pay off and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than the yard.

Love as always,

Vic and Pat

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