I have heard it said that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end and never does that feel more true than on New Year’s Eve, especially on that of a new decade. It really is such a powerful time for reflection. I think of that to include the good, the bad and sometimes the downright ugly, but also those wonderfully amazing moments that don’t necessarily feel massive at the time but become deep-rooted stand out memories all the same.
On a personal level my own 2019 has been an interesting one full of happiness and excitement but also depending on which way I turn has also seen its fair share of despair and sadness which I know many of you wouldn’t even be aware of. Sadly, this year I lost four family members, including two grandparents and a fur baby. But beyond this sadness there has also been incredible joy when I look for it, and funnily enough much of that includes you lovely lot and your four-legged gorgeous ones, so thank you!!
I wanted to take the time to share 4 of the rather wonderful experiences I have had this year. Believe it or not, it wasn’t easy to write about such happy times, that is the effect great sadness can have. But it just goes to show in the words of Dumbledore:
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.
I hope you enjoy them….
1. Going behind the scenes at Walt Disney World stables Tri-Circle D Ranch.
Ok, this wasn’t just amazing, it was epic, or as my eight year old would say ‘SICK’ (means something that is exceptionally cool apparently) anyway I digress, it was a fantastic experience!
You may not know but Walt Disney World has 80-90 horses kept at the ranch at any time. This includes not only the horses pulling carriages down Main Street USA (part of Magic Kingdom), but also wedding ponies for Cinderella’s Carriage, trail ride horses, first ride ponies, The Headless Horseman’s Horse, and those who pull a wagon, carriage or sleigh ride. You may see some of them make an appearance as certain character horses e.g Merida’s or Rapunzel’s horses. What I soon discovered however is that Disney LOVES their horses and no expense is spared in their upkeep. The passion from the cast members who look after them is first class.
In terms of their diets the heavy horses (Clydesdale’s, Percheron’s and Belgian’s in their case) are fed predominantly a forage based diet of timothy hay, with turnout and then the correct amount of balancer for their weight and electrolytes. Every horse I met was happily munching away in their stables, or in the shade where turned out, and massive power fans kept them cool. The yard and all areas were kept impeccably clean and each horse is treated as a ‘cast member’ in his own right so a bit like a police horse or military horse they are treated with the highest of respect.
One little cutie I was lucky to meet was Lilly. Lilly was their newest foal and was born in March. Named after Walt Disney’s wife Lillian she is the first ever white (she is true white) Shetland pony born at the ranch. Her parents Lady and Ferdinand are part of the team who pull the iconic Cinderella Carriage the ‘Pumpkin Coach’ so was quite a treat. Eventually Lilly will go on to become part of Cinderella’s team. I will be keen to follow her progress over the years...
If you love horses and happen to love Disney too, I would recommend a trip over to Tri-Circle D Ranch if you ever travel to Walt Disney World.
2. Visiting Clients in the Mid West USA and ‘Sampling Wisconsin Cheese Curds’
A month after visiting Orlando I found myself back in the US only this time out in the Mid West, alongside Freedom of Motion Equine and Saddle Services SMS qualified saddle fitter Eileen Fuller.
Together we travelled through Milwaukee and out to a remote area called Campbellsport, Wisconsin. No matter what country you live in, the aims are to keep everything as simple as possible whilst meeting all of the necessary nutritional requirements for the individual horse.
Two of my favourite days in the USA were spent with Team Hall Stables in Illinois. Such a lovely barn with wonderful people and truly lovely horses (not forgetting dogs, cats and even mascot Percy the Pig). I wonder if this is the original M&S Piggy? He should be as he was so friendly!
It is easy to go to a place and just share what you know, but honestly I also learnt so much about equestrianism in the States through being able to observe, watch and ask lots of questions. It is always a school day folks!! I have a saying that every horse teaches us something, and I think the same is true of each experience in life if we grab it by the horns. It was brilliant being able to help in the USA and something I will treasure for a very long time. Massive thank you to Eileen for organising and giving so much of her time so that I could meet horses. Not only that but she had me out in the evenings sampling ‘Wisonsin Cheese Curds’ (utterly divine, and remember I said it is not just the big things, it is the little things that turn out to be the big things that stand out in your memories). Anyway, she is a total rockstar!!
3. Being Asked to Write a Monthly Column for Absolute Horse Magazine
At the end of 2018 I was absolutely THRILLED when Absolute Horse Magazine asked me if I would like to write a monthly column. In the past I have often been asked to contribute to articles for different magazines, but honestly to be given a regular monthly column has felt like something really special, and in my mind that is because it is! I love getting to work with the them and I am absolutely over the moon and very grateful they have asked me to continue in 2020. They are such a lovely magazine, and I genuinely mean that you should check them out. Aside from the column I especially enjoy their gift guides, and ideas for around the house and equestrian fashion styles. I don’t just say this because I write for them, I just flipping love their content!!
4. Meeting you and your horses
As cheesy as this sounds it is true. Every time I rock up on a yard, be it old or new I am truly grateful to be doing what I love, and being able to make even a small difference in you and your horses lives. Sometimes that is just instilling the confidence that all is well, other times it may be making some more significant changes in the right way for the right reasons. Any of my clients who know me, will know it is done with a lot of smiles, and hey did someone mention tea or cake?!
No seriously guys, thank you for making 2019 a truly great one and I can’t wait to see you again or meet you for the first time on the other side!! Here is to a truly amazing 2020 for you and your horses.
Whatever life has dealt you this year whether you have gone through a difficult time, or perhaps it has been a truly wonderful one from start to finish I challenge you to find four experiences or memories you are truly grateful for. And remember just like me and my Wisconsin Cheese Curds, sometimes it is the little things that become the biggies…