Hello lovely people in blog land, I trust you are all well and not floating away in the floods of 2020, seriously I am looking out of my office window and it is snowing, having been raining, snowing, raining, hailing, windy, to be honest pretty much for the last 4 months.
Taunton is off (surprise!!) and Mr F and I have admin to catch up on, so I have decanted to my office to write a wee blog, as the small one is off school for the third day with the hideous virus I had last week. She is on the mend though, thankfully. So I have a strong coffee and Pink Floyd, Wish You Were here playing on my spotify as we speak, and I am contemplating what to write to you guys. life could be a lot worse.
I have been mulling over what to write for a couple of weeks and unfortunately it has been a rather tough time for us, losing Ken's well and generally having horses out of form, no one needs to listen to our misery. So I have kept quiet and tried to share instagram and facebook posts of as much positivity as I could manage in the circumstances. On the whole, I am exceedingly lucky and want for nothing, however it doesn't stop the odd day of self pity and mumblings of "why me again??". At that point I have to give myself a good slap and shake and look at what a great life I have, fantastic friends and most importantly the most wonderful partner and child, not to mention an amazing mother.
However it got me thinking and (ooh Led Zeppelin Black dog, is now playing, forgotten how much I love them! I shall continue to talk you through the playlist, I love my music!) surmising the reality of the life of the small trainer, how things have changed and what the future is for us little lot.
Years gone by we seemed to be able to charge much less and have more horses, more staff, pay decent wages and be competitive in the lesser races at the smaller tracks with decidedly average horses. This is an impossibility now, the cost of living has increased so much we struggle to charge what is needed to live, pay staff and most importantly do a top quality job with the horses we have. Something has to give and I bet if you spoke to any small trainer, they would tell you they are doing the job of one of their lads, riding out, driving the lorry, doing the invoicing/recordkeeping, dealing with their owners, trying to be a parent and generally working themselves into the ground.
Why? (Queen Under Pressure, appropriate don't ya think??) Because we all think that next month/year/week whatever, things will get easier, there is always that one horse that we think will be the one, we remain the eternal optimist. We do this job for the love of the horse. However as I look around the industry now, the love of the horse is slowly on the decline, not by the trainers as such but the time pressure for results has increased exponentially, the turn over of horses is now off the scale.
Gone are the days of having a nice young store that we take as long as it needs to get to the track, they have to mature so much quicker, show ability straight away or that's it, they are sold or badly broken before they can show their ability. How does that affect us lot? Well as trainers we are only as good as our strike rate. What owner wants to have a horse with someone who is struggling for winners, no matter how good they are given the right horses? We don't have that luxury or "its no good get rid and buy another", Nor would I want to! (Muse Psycho)
I refuse to compromise, I have a lot of young horses at the mo, all of which I think will win when they are in their own grade at the right track with the right ground. It has been a relentless winter for us as it has for a lot of people. However as with all small trainers, we have to get the horses handicapped and we know that with the best will in the world, they are not good enough to win a novice, but they will win eventually. (Snow Patrol Chocolate) The loss of one horse (Kens Well) that was a full payer, leaves a massive hole financially and more often or not, the owners aren't replacing them as the costs far outway the returns...
I am working with someone to develop a new website and to help me with some PR and he is fairly new to racing, however as an outsider looking in, he has been shocked at the way so many owners he knows have been treated and how a lot of owners have no idea of the work involved in caring for these beautiful animals. The tide is turning, horse welfare is becoming paramount and the general public will not tolerate what they could perceive to be cruelty, neglect or just plain greed. (Stereophonics Just looking)
Due to these observations, we are looking at a different market for our yard, we want owners who actually care, owners who want to be involved, owners who want to be consulted. I want owners who want to come and see their horses, who want to interact with my staff, who don't lose their sh-t when I tell them the truth. (Pink Floyd Time)
We know that the way forwards is to make racing affordable and inclusive to the general public and syndicates are the way. Ollie is happy to help me organise and run the syndicates, which I am eternally grateful for. These syndicates are lease only, no cost of purchase and one all in fee of £250 a month for 10% or £125 for 5%. They will be fun, inclusive and open. The two horses are The Big Yin (who has just had a wind op but is looking much better and will run again in the next couple of weeks) and Jemima who is unnamed and is working like a seriously nice mare. She will run in the next month. (Rise up Andrea Day)
I want owners who can look me in the eye and trust me, I want owners who don't own a horse as an extension of their wealth or body parts, I want owners who actually are in it for the good of the horse, not their status. (Everlong Foo Fighters)
I may be an idealist, however as a working mother, with a partner who has his own business and nothing whatsoever to do with racing, I do not want to be sacrificing precious time energy on people who are not on the same page as me. Let them go be a number in a big yard.
Whilst I was ill last week I really thought long and hard about whether I wanted to carry on doing what I'm doing. My exhaustion was such, it would possibly be termed as burnt out. Burnt out with worry, fear, stress, sadness, inadequacy. But do you know what? I don't quit, I refuse to quit, I have fought and fought for all of my life in one situation or another and I have always gotten back up. This time is no different.
Because believe me we will start having winners soon and the yin to the yang that has been plaguing us will return. We will move yards and we will continue to train until I think it's time to step back, not before. (Queen somebody to love)
So my vision for our new yard (when the gallop is installed) is a holistic yard, where I can help not only owners but the general public who want to learn more about racing and the horses' welfare. Where I can do everything that horse needs to fulfill its best potential, that may only be a handicap hurdle at Plumpton but that doesn't make it any less important.(Kodaline One Day)
In other news I realised a long time ago that training horses would never make me rich, I also realised that I always need to be designing or inventing things (I dabbled with waterproof riding out wear that was actually waterproof but was too busy to see it through). So a couple of years ago I started to think about all the parts of running a yard and how many different records we needed to keep and had a vision of a record keeping interactive program, that I wanted to design. (Cracklin' Rosie Neil Diamond)
Enter Dan Cross a programmer that I met via his wife who came to a Racing Green morning we had here. With Dan's expertise and my vision we have created a brilliant program, that I am testing at the moment. Watch this space!! It is not just for a racing yard, it is bespoke to your yard and your situation, I cannot say any more yet but it is going to be a game changer. (Into the World Stereophonics)
Enough of my ramblings, I had Francesca Altof here to take some pix for the new website, she did a fantastic job, here are a few of them. I will write all the info they need for the new website and then, when it's finished I will put the link of social media when it's done and you can all have a gander. It looks amazing!!
I have wittered away 2 hours doing this, so now it's onto the invoicing and then some quality time with the poorly one. Thank you for reading this far!
(Sunshine on Leith The Proclaimers)