Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hot in The City

We're off!  Leaving Barnack, Lincolnshire.

                            We've arrived!  Aintee at Night...

My writing skills are marginally better than my photography skills, so please excuse the blurring above.  It came from a combination of fatigue, hunger and overwhelming EXCITEMENT!  What you are gazing upon in the picture above, is Aintree at approximately 10.35PM on Friday the 12th of June 2015.

That's right, Mr T and I had arrived.

We had a very smooth journey thanks to Manningtree Horsebox Hire, who chauffeured us in style.  I had planned to self drive, but due to my Dad's funeral being a few days beforehand I decided I needed to be sensible and someone else drive across country for 4 hours.

The air of excitement was tangible as we drove through the Melling Road entrance, greeted by T Team members who guided us as to where to go and what to do.  Now considering 50 horses were arriving, all of which after 10PM at night, I cannot praise the efforts of Tina Griffen and her team highly enough, it was seamlessly smooth.

Tuff travelled beautifully, and once I checked in, collected our paperwork and stable number, he walked off the lorry without a bead of sweat, cool as a cucumber and we presented, passport in hand, for inspection prior to being admitted into stables.   Once clear, Joshua Steer showed us to our 'room', which was already made up (and thank you Josh for adding my extra bedding to my stable)  and in between lots of 'hellos' and 'how are you?' I left Tuff to settle while I grabbed his haynet & waterbucket (priority number one) and then starting unpacking all my gear.  This was the only downside to being dropped off... I had to unload EVERYTHING into my locker.   I have since come to call this the 'Aintree workout'.   In very warm evening conditions, several trips back and forth with a squeaky wheelbarrow really did render me 'hot in the city'.  But the atmosphere was very relaxed and flowing despite the time of day and volume of horses, due entirely to the organisational ninja Tina is, her great team of assistants and helpers, and the camaraderie of all the clinic participants.

So I eventually collapsed into the 4 bed jockey accommodation at at around 1 AM.  I was solo in the room at that time, but I had some lovely neighbours (Sara & her helpers).   Over the course of the next hour or so, the room filled up.   No sleep was had by me, this was due to the heat, the excitement, and the mistakenly consumed Latte at 10.25 PM.... caffeine was not a friend.

Thankfully, everyone else looked like I did the following morning at 5.45 AM when I wandered into the ladies... sleep deprived, but excited.  I'm sure the shock of seeing me with my PJ's and cowboy boots woke a few people up.

Now at this point I have to say I was in a complete trance... I went through the motions of washing, dressing, attending to Tuff (who had had a brilliant night, our neighbour commented she had to pop her head over the door to see if there was a horse in there he was so quiet and chilled!)  but internally a storm was brewing and an internal argument was taking place....

Now Buck mentions timing a lot.  In reference to the horses feet, our feel, in life...  I think like a lot of people I haven't given the timing of things much thought (apart from my horses feet).  Well looking back over the weekend at Aintree, I feel that accurate timing was all around me.  This is why..

The internal struggle I had that Saturday morning was fuelled by several factors:

1. I had rocked up to Aintree that Friday night, knowing no one in person (virtually I had met a lot of lovely people going).  My good friend Layla couldn't be with me until just as the clinic started.   Now normally, being an extrovert that wouldn't bother me at all, I'll talk to anyone, it's getting me to shut up that's the problem.  I was so busy, on the surface I was fine, but that first morning I was feeling overwhelmed and rapidly convincing myself I'd made a mistake.

2.  I cannot escape that those feelings came from the fact that the Monday prior I had said bye to Dad.  Now if you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that it was never a question that I was not going to go to Buck's clinic.  It meant way too much to me, but honestly I was still shell shocked with what happened.  My week had gone along these lines... Funeral, hangover, packing, washing horse, more packing, Aintree.

Now I bet you are thinking well where did the timing come in.   This is the neat bit...

1.  Those nice neighbours from the jockey accommodation?  Well, while I was trying to force some toast and juice down my throat sat in the cafe on the Saturday morning, they came and joined me.  Now they probably don't realise this, but their kindness and offer to help me get ready that morning single handedly stopped me from backing out.  Sara's friend Meg helped me get Tuff ready and even helped guide Layla to the clinic while I was going down to the arena.  Thank you guys, you really reminded me why I was there.

Oh and I was in room 13 in the Jockey accommodation, I took that as a good omen, it's my lucky number :)

2.  Now without sounding all cosmic and a bit batty, the timing of this clinic was a blessing for me.  At first I thought it was a happy coincidence, something to aim for after something so awful.  Turned out it was not about that at all, it far exceeded it.  I will go on to explain more over the next couple of blogs, but instantly, in that first morning of the clinic, I felt a whole lot better about life.

Horses aren't the only ones who shut down, Buck can see that.

Timing is everything.

See you on the flip side x

PS  Everyone was so lovely, it really made me push through. I wanted more than anything to be there, and seeing other people want so much to be there too was uplifting! Don't worry my blogs will get cheerier, and have more horsemanship in soon. That first night was pivotal for me, and opened my eyes to that I was exactly where I was meant to be at that time in my life x

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Where do I begin?

Firstly, the official bit.....This blog is my own work.  I do not represent Buck Brannaman, Total Horsemanship, or Aintree International Arena.  Pictures courtesy of my lovely friend Layla Nulty :)

Right where do I begin?  Apart from the obvious, my horse is gorgeous (please see above).

Now the dust has begun to settle in my feeble brain, I will be writing several blogs to cover everything that happened in what has to be, THE best clinic I have ever experienced.

Hats off to Tina Griffen and what I have now dubbed, The 'A' Team, in making this event happen and run so very smoothly!

Format will go as follows....

  • 2 or possibly 3 blogs, detailing MY experience of attending this event.  The sights, sounds, people, get the idea.  
  • Then there will be wine consumed, by at least me, possibly you too (unless you are under 18).   
  • I will then write another 3 blogs detailing exercises, words of wisdom, observations from the clinic. 
  • Then more wine for me, as writing is thirsty work :)

Sounds good? Great!

I will now leave you with one snippet that stuck with me throughout this clinic....'Treat them how you want them to be, not how they are'.  I can confirm this works with husbands too :)

See you on the flip side (V V V soon) x

Monday, 1 June 2015

Stop all the Clocks

Grief is like a wave.  It ripples and swirls, the pull of an undercurrent just under the surface, gathering it up into a crescendo.  This climaxes into taking whatever you thought you were, and smashing it against shards of pain so sharp and violent, your broken heart feels like it may never beat again. Then it pulls you under.

Deep, dark, unforgiving grief is my new bedfellow.

My Dad is dead.

Just typing those words breaks me in ways I thought were not possible.  Saying it out loud makes it too real to bear.  Watching people go about their daily lives offends me.  Why aren't they crippled as I am?  Why doesn't the world stop to acknowledge our loss?  Why is he gone?

The nurse in me understands why, the daughter in me thinks they are lying.  That he'll phone me to moan at me for having too many horses and spending too much on them, that he'll be taking the mick out of us all and saying 'GOTCHA'.  Knowing I'll never hear his voice again renders me mute.  My legs feel full of lead, my stomach full of bile, yet I endure, as plans need to be made, children and horses need to be cared for, and ultimately I am my Father's daughter, and his strength never faultered.

My husband has been my rock, and my family & friends have rallied.  I love you all.

If you're wondering why I'm posting this in my blog, here's why.

  • I'm a writer, it's how I process my feelings.
  • My Dad knew what participating in this clinic meant to me, he would want me to still attend.  So I will be.  
  • My horses are my steady constant and my best therapists.  They will pull me out of the abyss.
So my friends, I will be raising my beautiful engraved 'Buck clinic' glass to my Dad, and I know he'll be proud of me for doing what I love, and living life.

See you on the flip side Dad xx