To Have a Beginning, There Must be an End.

Happy New Year readers.

It’s been a while, I apologise. Such a while in fact that this feels like a novel experience.

Life has been busy. I’ll summise 2021 briefly, but there was a lot of work (mostly enjoyable albeit exhausting), not a huge amount of going out socially, but sufficient for a wallflower like me. We enjoyed the good weather, did some DIY, met up with family, enjoyed our family time. Not much to complain about really. The horses are fine; Otis still enjoys his retirement, and I’ve finally worked out Phoenix’s winter management in terms of timing her clips, feed, and everything else a sensitive mare needs. She’s working well and I’m pleased. She was 3rd and 6th at the BD Native Championships in Novice and Elementary in November so we are climbing the ladder steadily. And we’re a partnership now. Sure, she’s still very spicy. But I trust her, and she contains the spice because I ask her to. People say she looks easy to ride now, and I guess that means I’m doing a good job because there’s some frantic paddling under the water to ensure we glide untroubled around!

Then we decided to move house. Which I think is when I ran out of time for any blogging. Every waking moment was spent tidying the house or trawling the Internet for ones to buy. That’s all hopefully going smoothly although Christmas has paused everything.

I’ve been thinking about The Rubber Curry Comb a lot recently. I’ve not had the incentive to write recently, even when the time has been available. It took me a while to realise why, but I now know the answer. This blog was my diary as I transformed from student to teacher. As I developed my opinions, as I tried to make the equestrian world a better place. When I was happy, and when I was sad.

Now my life is full. With family, equines and work. But it is stable. I am comfortable and confident in my convictions. I don’t feel the need to get on a soap box. Of course, I’d still express an opinion if asked, and would stand up if I felt it necessary, but I think I’ve given up slightly on trying to teach those who don’t want to listen. After all, my blog reaches those of a similar mindset to me. Preaching to the converted springs to mind. I won’t change the equestrian world. But I can instead focus my efforts on helping those I’m in direct contact with.

I also don’t like the road that social media is on nowadays. Perhaps naively, 8 years ago I was happy to say my spiel, get some feedback and debate with similar minded people all over the world. But now it’s all about the hashtags, tagging the right people, getting a “good reach”. I can’t keep up. I just want to express an opinion.

There are keyboard warriors out there. Which makes me glad to not have become viral! But so many of these popular accounts or figures, with huge followings, are very materialistic. They do adverts, they get freebies, they tag the brands on their gear. In general, they don’t write valid, balanced and educated posts. It’s a diary and the more dramatic the better. It’s all about the thrills and spills. The height of the jump. It’s not about research, or education. It’s a popularity contest, and I’ve never been popular, nor do I wish to affiliate myself with manufacturers without having done the research and experienced the product myself in an unbiased way, so I’m quite happy to bow out of it.

I don’t know where the blog is going now. I don’t want to delete it. It’s a part of my life and helped me get to where I am on life’s path. But I don’t see myself writing any more blogs in the future. Perhaps when I step down from Pony Club, or retire. But I don’t need to write for myself now, and I’d rather stop feeling guilty for neglecting The Rubber Curry Comb, and use my free time to walk the woods with a nearly four year old looking for fairies and talking about The Faraway Tree; or building and rebuilding train tracks and marble runs. It will be here when I need it. And I will still be here if anyone needs me.

So I guess this is it. The end of a chapter. The Rubber Curry Comb will remain online, but it won’t have any new content unless I am struck with the inclination to get out the soap box and preach to my corner of the Internet.

Leaving Lockdown

It’s been a while since I blogged. Life has been a bit crazy as lockdown has eased and the odd moment that I’ve had to myself I’ve needed to stare vacantly at an insipid TV programme. But there’s no hot water for my bath, so I thought I’d address my oversight whilst waiting for the boiler to do it’s job.

Not that I’m sure what to talk about, so let’s see where this meandering road will take me!

Has anyone else found the idea of coming out of lockdown slightly daunting? Well, very daunting to be honest.

I feel that we’ve slimmed down our diaries to the bare minimum. Essential jobs, outings etc. And realistically are only socialising with who we need to see. Yet we’ve filled our time so that we’re busy every day. How on earth will we fit in anything extra curricular?

Since Easter, I’ve been trying to get a handle on the elusive work-life balance, which has spiralled a bit out of control. We’re back up to three full days of childcare, and I’ve streamlined work into 3.5 weekdays, with Pony Club alternate weekends. Which, once the madness of going on long overdue day trips to visit family calms down, I’m hoping will feel like we have a reset day, and at least a day to do something different; be it a day at the zoo or a walk in the woods.

But then there comes the question as to what we actually want to do with this newfound freedom. I mean, what do we actually want to do? I’ve never been a fan of big crowds, and not having been in one for over a year definitely makes me wary of going out again. I think I’m also concerned about how activities and experiences will change as a result of new regulations and social distancing. I mean, I love going to the West End. But, there’s a lot of people in those narrow passageways, especially during the interval. I feel claustrophobic at the mere thought. And, will the social distancing and mask wearing affect the experience? There’s definitely an element of reluctance to dive straight in. Perhaps I’ll wait until a friend has been so they can feed back to me.

I’ve also been thinking carefully about what options life opening up will give us. And choosing one thing at a time to reintroduce. Even the simple things such as taking Phoenix out. You get out of the rhythm of it, can’t remember what equipment you need, can’t remember how to juggle child and pony. Then factor in the post-lockdown regulations I need to remember. But a few treadmill trips, hacks out with friends and clinics and I’ve refamiliarised myself with Pony adventures. However, the desire to compete hasn’t really returned yet!

Then at the same time I am really conscious of making sure we provide Mallory with stimulation, opportunities, and an education. But without creating a whirlwind lifestyle. This week, we started officially sharing a lovely Welsh section A pony. We’ll only go once a week, and I’ll follow her lead as to whether we hack (current favourite), trot around the arena (“don’t hold me Mum. I don’t need you to hold her!”), or meander over poles. Then we’re also eagerly awaiting for swimming pools to be opened for public swimming so we can make the water baby happy again and get her confident in the water again.

I’ve booked a slot to go trampolining next week; an activity that we loved before lockdown, but decided that we won’t return to her singing and dancing class until things get back to normal in terms of interaction because neither of us enjoyed the individual island like experience of before Christmas and I spent the entire time telling her not to interact with the other children. And otherwise, we’ll just hand pick activities on a weekly basis until we find the right balance for us.

I think emerging from this hibernation steadily will give us all chance to adapt, yet also make the decision as to what we actually want to do rather than being swept along with the crowd and overburdened with a hectic schedule, leaving us no time for the quiet, quality moments we’ve learnt to appreciate over the last fourteen months.