I’ve never made so many ‘plans’ and unmade ‘plans’ and stressed about ‘plans’ all to have absolutely no ‘plans!
Let’s talk Spain. There are so many elements that go into getting a string of horses ready for a tour like this it’s amazing, but we do it because when we get out there it’s totally worth it, right?! First things first, the horses need to be fit enough. Prior to leaving all the horses at Puttenham were on fitness regimes and nutrition plans (with a little help from GAIN Equine Nutrition) tailored toward jumping a tour in Spain in February. With Brexit and COVID, we had a heck of a job getting all the paperwork for both horses and lorry up to scratch. But the final nail in the 2020-2021 coffin of EHV virus meant that we brought true meaning to the saying ‘the best-laid plans’. Everything. Cancelled.
Queue going back to my peaceful little life of staying at home, playing ponies and trying to not hit the floor. I partially succeeded, bar one particularly fun body bump with the floor after my 30th birthday (less said about that the better)
It’s quite a funny situation really, gearing up to take 6 horses abroad for a month and doing all the organising and preparation that comes with it, when, bizarrely no one seems to fully understand what we should be doing (the blind leading the blind?). Regardless, we jumped through all the hoops spending oodles of money to then be hit with another pandemic, this time for the horses. (Sidenote: anyone else noticed that a pandemic for the horses hit us all harder than a pandemic for humans? Ahhh the equestrian world…).
I just count my lucky stars that we didn’t set off. Even on the day, we were due to pull out the Puttenham gates, we were still being told we will be fine which, turns out, wasn’t completely accurate. It was a hard decision to pull the plug, but man am I happy to be safe and at home.
Onto brighter news. Events in the UK are opening up again and it’s exciting to be able to plan(!) training and show schedules. For Team Puttenham, I didn’t want to throw the horses straight into shows. I don’t have a huge arena, so I think it’s important to get them out at some other venues just to train first, I will be doing a fair bit of course hire to begin with to get them out and about.
As part of the ‘planning’ process, we have the added element of having to enter UK shows pretty far in advance these days if you want to be in with a chance of getting an entry. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t necessarily a problem as such, just something we must think about. Usually, I like to plan the year so that some horses are in work, while others are on their holibobs, but obviously having had a months and months of all of them off – it’s all in.
All the news going on in the equestrian world, and the world as a whole is overwhelming. One of my better decisions to make this year was deleting Facebook on my phone. I’m totally guilty of sitting and scrolling through my phone, to no purpose, and everything in my feed wasn’t exactly filling me with any joy. I really found this helped make a lot of the negativity in the equine community disappear, which in turn, helped me with all the psychological pressures attached.nI see what I do as a luxury, I’m incredibly lucky to have what I have and I love working hard and spending time with my horses. So if I’m ‘stuck’ at home or at shows I have to count myself lucky. As mentioned, I don’t have the biggest arena, but I try and make the most of it. I find new and fun exercises I can do with the horses, playing with different setups to keep us all entertained alongside lots of hacking
With the clocks going forward, nicer weather and longer evenings are making things easier. I like to make the most of the extra time by utilising it to do other things, away from the horses that I enjoy, more recently this involves compromising Pilates positions and zenning out with a spot of yoga. Doing this has made me so aware of how much I haven’t been doing anything away from the horses that I enjoy. I don’t go shopping or out for dinner so I am not desperate for things to open up in that sense, but man I can’t wait to get out and do some training!
Following advice from Dee of Dynamic Sport Performance, I’ve recently taken a good look at my nutrition and found simple meals to batch make at the beginning of each week. I’m hoping that this will help even when I’m away training or competing. If I’m prepped and ready to go, maybe (just maybe) I’ll stay away from the cheesy chips! The difference in my energy levels since finding the time to do this is HUGE, and this is an element of planning that is completely within my control, but that will ultimately affect my performance. It’s not hard, I roast a huge tray of vegetables, make a batch of couscous or bulgur wheat, mix it all together and ta-daa! I have a bowl full every day for lunch with maybe a fried egg. Easy!
It’s been a heck of an up and down journey for us all to get to this point. I’m grateful for what I have in an awesome bunch of horses and a great team of people around me, friends and family too. Here’s to continuing to make plans, and hoping that any day now, they’ll stick!