I love Christmas and all that it brings, but this Christmas feels a little extra special, because for the first time in a long time I get to spend it with my loved ones (and yes, I mean my horses too!).
As a groom for many years, people would often say they felt sorry for me working over Christmas. Grooms are the Cinderella’s of the horse world and Christmas certainly brings no exception to this title. As everyone is out shopping and spending time with their loved ones, we are mucking out, washing legs and searching for thrown shoes in the pitch black, wondering why we made the life choices we did.
In previous years, mad dashes to late night shopping in jodhpurs and wellies were a common occurrence. I’d normally stumble across another groom, vet, vet nurse or fellow equestrian also attempting to find gifts for non-horsey family and friends, in honesty, you could normally smell them before you saw them!
But far from feeling sorry for myself, I would always be the first to chalk my name up to work Christmas Day. I loved working on the only day of the year that you could get peace and quiet on the yard – no clients to keep happy by chatting for an hour when you had hours’ worth of work to do, no staff complaining that they were cold when they had chosen an OUTDOOR job (the logic!?), no horses in the wrong stables or wearing the wrong rugs… just peace and quiet accompanied by the sound of happy horses munching hay. Bliss.
But although I loved my Christmas’ being a groom, this Christmas is looking very different. When I hung up my well-worn grooming boots, I hadn’t thought that this would mean a Christmas at home, waking up to just my own horses in the back garden and getting to spend the whole day at home with my family…and a drink!
After years of working over Christmas, for me this time of year is about family and spending time with those who really matter. I think we can all be guilty of running through life at 100 miles an hour and sometimes missing out on the small, seemingly insignificant moments. The thing is, those moments aren’t insignificant, they are really important. We don’t live from one huge, monumental life event to the next (unless you lead a really exciting life!), we live day to day, sometimes forgetting to appreciate the little things – catching a sunrise, snuggling on the sofa with the dogs or just a quiet Sunday morning hack. Never forget the importance of the little things, they are what gives life it’s magic.
Christmas for me is also a time for reflection. As I write this, one of my own horses is recovering from surgery at Loch Leven Equine Practice. The team did such a wonderful job in looking after him, but it has made me realise how fortunate I am to have him here and my dreams of qualifiers and big track classes that were once so prominent, are no longer a priority for me. Sometimes you just need to be grateful for what you have got and if you’ve got four happy hooves in a stable, make sure you let them know just how grateful you are to have them (I’ve found a carrot or two usually does the trick!).
This is just another reminder that the best present in the world isn’t actually the new season matchy-matchy set or the most fashionable riding boots. Actually, being here to spend time with my family, friends and horses with nowhere to be and no work to think about is the greatest gift of all.
Wishing all those working over Christmas an easy, quiet few weeks with some time spare to spend with your loved ones too.