|I don't look like this|
Christmas is approaching and once again my insurance renewal papers have arrived, offering to relieve me of 1/20th of my turnover, not profit, for the next 12 months. I have never been so close to stopping what I do. Indeed, I've even written a chapter for my book called, 'The Beginning of the End' which itself starts with the day that I was crushed in a horsebox by the horse that was so anxious that he wanted to leave.
That was the start of a year during which someone decided that they wouldn't pay me for an hour to go and fetch the panels that they had borrowed for five weeks to make their loading practice safer; where another woman declared "Well I am paying you!" whilst messing me about for an hour while I tried to quietly work with her daughter's horse on a Sunday, and someone thought they would talk about about me on Facebook because I had been unable to clip the legs of their pony when they had spent an age terrifying it with the clippers beforehand. In that particular case I felt that a pony that was that terrified and dangerous, and had been so for years, should not be clipped but oh no, he MUST be clipped because he was going to be shown; I should have walked away.
But when the chips are down, and other clichés, I do it for the horses, and also for all of the owners who are rays of light through some of this gloom. It's a year when I have been surrounded by some of the most complex loading problems but owners that are prepared to practice and be utterly patient and understanding with their horses. I have also helped many people in absolute crisis with their horses and only yesterday answered thirty messages over a seven hour period on my one day off in order to head of a disaster for someone who needs to load two fairly unhandled yearlings for a longish journey and needed to understand that some horseboxes and trailers are just not suitable. I have also booked in a colt whose head-collar is becoming dangerously tight who won't let anyone approach with biting or kicking them. Both of these jobs, if the first lady can't get the help for free, will take place on a Sunday.
I try to find a way through for the horse that is ethical and safe and meets the needs of the owner. To be honest it is usually the owner that is getting in the way of the horse's progress, either by being unrealistic or inconsistent. I've met owners who think I am being too strong with their horse when I insist that he doesn't walk all over me, or bash me with his head, or just ask him to pay attention to what we are trying to do. Others think I am a tree-hugger because I won't force a horse to go forward when he is troubled, or enter a horsebox and stay there when he is frightened. As a clerk in the courts in my previous life, I had to be independent of the prosecution and defence, so to be taking an independent middle ground is not unusual to me.
If you are going to get me out in 2017 please can I ask you not to be a DINER: delusional, ignorant, naïve, emotional or rude around your horse.
I'm off now to drive two and half hours to help a super client with her beautiful Shire horse and then drive two and a half hours back.