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Ponderings of an Equestrian Professional

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Why do I do it?

A picture of mr with Alfie, my hand touching his muzzle. with the words "He's not just my horse, he's my therapist, sanity, pride, happiness, my best friend

Since I was at school I've wanted to work with horses, and as I said in "What do I do?" I've been teaching since I was a teenager. Being with horses, just spending time with them has always been therapeutic for me. Horses are so empathetic & more constant than humans, I often find them easier to understand.

Working with horses is tough, physical work. Occasionally it is tough emotionally too. You are out in all weathers and every day, animals don't stop for Christmas or any other holiday. I have never minded that. The animals always come first. Once they are all settled and fed, then I can enjoy myself.

It's about 12 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Not an easy thing to adjust to, and slowly I have had to slow down, stepping back from the physical side of grooming.

Living with chronic pain is tiring and incredibly frustrating. It is also oh so tempting to give up, curl up in a duvet & do nothing (particularly when it's dark, wet & cold out).

I am not going to do that. Not yet, not while I am able to get myself out of the house.

So many people like me deal with this illness every day. I have friends with children who have to be cared for, houses to organise for their families. I have none of that. Just me, my 2 Jack Russells and my horse.

I am blessed that when I left the job which provided a flat, I was able to return home to my parents. They care for me, and mum makes sure I eat every day, something I struggle to do for myself.

Do I struggle with the fact I'm back at home? Yes, I do, but I am very grateful.

So what keeps me going? Why do I get out of bed in the morning no matter how much it hurts or how long it takes?

Alfie in canter in a dressage test.
Alfie, ridden by Raffaella Bailey

Simple answer is, Alfie.

The terriers don't need me to get out of the house, just open the door to let them out. Alfie needs me to go & feed him, muck out, & do his rehab. Don't get me wrong, there are lovely people who help me out, but they understand that I need to do as much as I can. Some days I can do more than others. Sometimes I don't know I've done too much until the painkillers fail to do their job.

Alfie is currently doing rehab, and I need to get myself into shape. Much as I love watching Raffi ride my boy, I intend to get back dancing inside those white boards myself next year.

Right now mornings are tough. I have had to increase the strongest painkillers I take, and they make me feel queasy & shaky in the morning so knowing that Alfie is given his breakfast when all the horses on the yard are fed takes a bit of pressure off me, unless I am off judging or teaching. If I have an early start one of the girls on the yard does him for me & I get to him in the afternoon.

Back in the spring I had some diagnostic injections in my back, which helped me a huge amount.

I need to lose weight and get back to more of a active lifestyle to help my general health and mental well being and the relief from constant back pain enabled me to do just that, for the couple of weeks the effect lasted.

Unfortunately the next step is not provided by the NHS. Yes, I wondered why they did the diagnostic bit if they don't offer the next step too. It's a lot like waving a winning lottery ticket in your face then throwing it in the fire.

Thanks, as always, to my wonderful family, the next step may well be done privately.

The Sand Arena Ballerina pictured with quote "Life. It's about finding that thing that makes you feel alive that sets your soul on fire."
What sets your soul on fire?

So, why do I do this?

Because horses make me who I am, who I have been and who I want to be. No matter what life throws at me.


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