Everyone knows that I’m one of the rare breeds who loves their job, but what is the best part about it?
As 2015 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect. I think the variety in my day makes mine such a great job. I see hundreds of people a week, certainly have my full of horses, and visit numerous yards.
For example, I enjoy clipping because I get a lot of satisfaction from the finished result. There’s nothing better than seeing straight lines on a velvety smooth, freshly clipped horse. Or those feather free, contoured legs, and smartly tidied mane and bridlepath. But I don’t enjoy clipping and trimming enough to focus on it every day. For starters, I’d soon get fed up of hair itching down my back!
Then of course there’s the teaching. Which I love, but when I do a full day of teaching I know I run out of power towards the end, so it’s nice to chop and change between teaching and clipping. I’ve got chance to regenerate, reflect and plan lessons so that I don’t feel like I’m on a production line – one client in, one client out … – I feel I know my clients well now, so can pick up where we left off each time and I can follow their journeys easily. Rapport is a great thing, and it means neither party is afraid to ask questions or make suggestions. It’s a team effort.
Finally, there is the exercising of horses that I do. It can be a more lonely job, just me and the horse, but as I’m not a social butterfly I enjoy this bit of downtime. Again, there’s some time to reflect and trial any new ideas I’ve had for future lessons. But it can be tiring riding all day, so slotting in a couple of lessons or clips is a good opportunity to rest my riding muscles.
I think I’ve got the right mix of work to keep me fresh and allow me to do my best and stay interested in my work and clients – human and equine.
But I think what makes my job incredibly satisfying and motivates me most is seeing the development in everyone.
In the horses I school it’s the developing relationship and trust between me and them, and also the improvement in their way of going. For example, the mare I ride who had a serious bout of PMT about a month ago started randomly stopping, bucking and rearing, but I’ve managed to get inside her mind and get the attitude out of her system by working with her through it. Then there’s the Shire cross who I hack out, who can be nappy but he trusts me more now so that when something worries him he’ll listen to me first, rather than run away. It’s feeling the understanding in the pony I’ve been schooling recently so that he now starts in the school with a more active walk and using his hindquarters to propel himself along. It’s the horse I hack spotting me in the yard from the school and taking an opportunity to gravitate towards me. It’s the confidence in another pony over poles and jumps after a few days of working with me, of her relaxing and taking me towards the poles without fretting. It’s feeling the Anglo Arab understand the aids for shoulder in and try his hardest to produce it.
When I’m teaching the greatest satisfaction comes from the massive grin on a client’s face when they jump better than before. It’s their new found confidence on the ground and the relationship building between them and their horse. It’s the horse looking to them for guidance, and trying their heart out to please. It’s the understanding of a client to a technical term, or a correction, or the reason for the way their horse behaves, or why they didn’t succeed last time. It’s the pat and cuddle at the end of a lesson from a hot rider to their tired horse. It’s the new goals they set, such as starting to compete in a new discipline, or having the confidence to move up a level. It’s the smile as a client relives their success in a competition, or even just riding without me.
I don’t think I could even begin to list the highlights of my 2015. I feel everyone has moved forwards along their yellow brick road, and are closer to achieving their goals, whatever they may be. The horses are all happy and healthy, with better fitness and muscle tone, whilst owners are more knowledgeable and confident in their abilities, and hopefully as happy and healthy as their horses!
So Happy New Year everybody, and good luck for 2016. I’m certainly looking forwards to moving along my yellow brick road and helping the people and equines in my life continue to grow.