We are into our 7th week of Lockdown and I thought I would finally do a small blog. It's looking likely that racing may resume before the end of May and we are thinking about getting the horses back into work next week with a view to being ready to run over jumps from July.
When this all started, even before lockdown, I took the view that there would be no racing until June and told my owners that I was turning the horses away to give them a good rest. It made sense after the constant battle with the virus and the horses could only benefit from a rest and the owners could do without full training fees in these worrying times.
Luckily we have all stayed safe, I know without a doubt that I had the virus in Feb, when I look back at my diary it scares me now how badly things could have gone. I had the breathlessness and massive itching on my toes (a sign of circulation not getting the the feet) and Ella had the worst temperature I have known for 5 days. I thank the universe that we are ok and all our loved ones are.
During this down time I have found myself healing in many ways, I am sleeping better and starting to get my enthusiasm and confidence back, I look back and realise I was probably burnt out and very anxious and stressed. It's nice to be me again!
Greg, Ella and I have spent some lovely time together, don't get me wrong, there have been times we could cheerfully have hurt one another but on the whole, we have had some time to reconnect and slow down. I have never had time with Ella that doesn't involve her having to fit in around the horses. Sad in some respects but actually it has made her to most relaxed and undemanding child to be around, she knows she is loved more than anything in the world.
I have to say I'm not loving the homeschooling and that is with a child who is fantastic, intelligent and who wants to learn. Since the lockdown started and the horses were turned away, I have been trying to clean and paint the barn here for whoever has it next once we move to the farm properly.
However once I am back from the farm in the mornings by 8, where I have checked and fed the horses, I then am housebound as Greg is working and I am responsible for making sure Ella is doing what she is supposed to and understanding it. I take my hat off to teachers but I also take my hat off to the parents who have knuckled down and continue to work hard with their children. I have to say come Friday night, Gin is very much appreciated...
Today Ella is flying through her school work, it's amazing how bribery works, I promised her another ride on the young pony we've broken and I'm schooling for her to move onto when she grows out of Ollie, if she knuckled down and concentrated.
I have to say I am loving having a pony to play with, I never thought I would enjoy riding a native 14.2, we have just started shoulder in and leg yielding, very rewarding. My biggest worry is that he is going to be so laid back and chilled, he may not have quite enough about him to be a jumping pony for her, however it's early days yet.
I miss working with my staff, whom I speak to daily and in fact we have just had a group whatsapp video call which was lovely but not the same as the fun we have working together! I miss riding the racehorses massively and most importantly I miss working with the horses all day, but it took this time to make me realise just how much. I am in the lucky position of not having the worry that a lot of trainers are having, there are stories of owners not paying their fees, leaving horses for the trainers to deal with.
I suppose the best thing to come out of having such a rough few years, is I was at my lowest number horse wise and staff wise for 5 years and I didn't have a whole lot left to lose, the only way is up now!
The horses are all looking so much better, apart from their bites and scrapes, honestly they are hilarious to watch in the field, Jack is the bottom of the pecking order in his field, with Alan actually bullying him. Dave is the biggest thug in that field and Gallic really doesn't give a monkeys, a bit like me, doesn't take any crap but doesn't care about sides either.
In the other boys field, Zeeshan is top dog but also a bit of a loaner, Mr F and Daffy are besties but Daffy is the bottom of the pack. The funniest to watch are Marmont and JB, Marms just pushes Jb round all the time, not nastily just bosses him, JB always comes over for a big cuddle. Its like he is begging to come back to his 5 star accommodation, I think they all miss the pampering but they all needed to man up and be horses for a while.
In the girls field Jemima is top dog and her and Eddie are besties and Patsy sort of tags along, Mary the old broodmare is rather aloof and does her own thing and Cru the retired horse with the dodgy feet gets harrassed by all the girls. He will definitely be happy to come in to be fed and fussed each day.
I was going to talk about how racing has been affected during the lockdown but no one needs any more misery, we all know that times are tough and every industry is in the same boat, obviously other businesses don't have live animals to accommodate, however I do believe the majority of trainers have behaved brilliantly and the BHA are working hard for us. We are lucky to have them and the NTF fighting our corner.
If racing is one of the only sports to be allowed to start again in the next couple of weeks, we have a massive opportunity to show it in a good light and to engage a wider audience. Now is the time we could bring racing to people who have never had anything to do with it, we have a captive audience, lets try to show ourselves and our industry in the most positive way possible.