All that aside, over the past few weeks I've noticed at the new yard how many people have 'helpers,' me included. Mums, Dads, partners, friends...for me personally, I've always been lucky that my Dad, or 'Papa Strong' as he's known, poo picks my fields for me twice a week. I genuinely don't know how I'd manage without him! He was a farmer for most of his life and enjoys being outside, and now he is retired he finds this is a great way of keeping active as well as saving me some time. Not only that, but over the past few weeks throughout the -10 temperatures, he has been up at 6.30 most days to come and help with the horses. Completely of his own accord, he has turfed himself out of bed and come out into the arctic conditions, just to help me with putting water out in the fields where the troughs are frozen, and to help muck out whilst I change rugs, turn out and feed. What a superstar!
My long suffering partner too deserves a mention. He is my trailer tower, my groom, and general helper. Before he met me he had nothing to do with horses, but now they are very much a part of his life. He too braves the cold, spends his weekends taking me competing, helps to muck out, repair things, carry things that weigh more than me...he even went to turn my horses out the very 1st morning they were in their new home as I had to go to London very early for work, and sent me photo evidence to put my neurotic mind at rest that they were ok!
Most riders I know have at least 1 unpaid groom, someone to support them, read their test, take their photo's and video's, muck out their stables, watch with their heart in their mouths as you fly past them on the XC course, pick you up off the floor when your horse has a paddy, tack up one horse whilst you ride the other... It's easy to take them for granted, but I always make sure I say thank you regularly, whether it's in the form of a bacon sandwich, or a toblerone, or even just a day off! This blog is a tribute to all the unpaid grooms, because let's face it, we couldn't do it without them. Don't forget to say thank you often :o)