Cirencester, England & Plettenberg, South Africa
I am often asked, ‘What Is a typical day’, and of course there is no such thing.
With ponies you have to expect the unexpected and it can be an emotional roller coaster. Whilst horses are magnificent creatures and full of character they are also unpredictable and prone to injury, and there are days when I can be elated by an outstanding performance or in tears over a serious mishap. From a VERY young age I knew my life would centre around riding and my career has covered many disciplines, including racing, eventing, hunting, breeding, backing, coaching and film work as a stunt rider.
I love my job and of course it is a big plus that I get to visit so many beautiful locations and meet so many fascinating people. From April to October I am based at Cirencester Park Polo Club on the magnificent Bathurst Estate in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. There really isn’t anywhere prettier than the Cotswolds in Summertime, It is beyond beautiful! November to March, I am with Plettenberg Polo Club in South Africa. I love playing at Plett – reliable sunshine makes for an easier life! I spend my days coaching as several of my UK clients accompany me.
It’s a combination of hard work and fun, the longer days and the intensity of playing daily improves their game dramatically.
Here is my ' typical ' day.
7.15 Team meeting – Any concerns regarding the ponies will be highlighted and actioned. The day’s diary discussed and responsibilities are allocated.
7.30 The ponies are fed and watered and their stables mucked out.
8.00 I ride the young horses and train and work with those that need it. I usually manage 6 ponies a day. The rest of the horses go out on their walk and trot with their grooms who ride and care for them.
9.30 Lessons commence. We coach a really diverse range of capabilities from tiny tots to young England players. Some clients ( known as patrons ) have their own string of horses. We also welcome guests wishing to explore the game for the very first time. We are very fortunate to be based on the beautiful Bathurst Estate in the heart of the Cotswolds and consequently receive a lot of visitors from neighbouring hotels.
11am – 2pm We start to focus on our intermediate to advanced players around this time and commence chukkas. These are competitive game situation practices. We have many clients wishing to improve and hone their existing skills.I enjoy coaching juniors and to see them improve and mature is incredibly
rewarding. We work closely with several schools. Coaching is a very big part of my job and I am proud to be HPA level 3.
3pm – Tournaments usually take place in the afternoon. I live to play competitive polo! I ride my own personal string of horses who are kept race fit and ready to run. I invest a huge amount of effort in schooling my ponies and work intensively with them every day. I believe it is important for coaches to play and improve their own performance, else how do you motivate your own students? We need to feel their pain! Playing regularly keeps me up to date with new techniques and tactics. The rules of Polo are somewhat changeable and it is important I keep abreast . I feel a true sense of pride when my ponies play well, I know all my effort and hard work has been worth it.
6pm – Following polo the horse’s legs are iced, similar to those of an athlete. They are washed, their rugs put on and supper is served! We are keen on incorporating additional vitamins and electrolytes in their diet. The day hasn’t quite finished yet, as tack is cleaned, if the lorry has been used it is unpacked and the lists for the following day are drawn up. There are a mountain of ongoing tasks which involve liaising with clients and patrons who leave their ponies in our care. Vets, owners, farriers and feed merchants are usually contacted at the end of the day. Last but not least I sit back and consider the progress of my excellent team and how I can develop their skills.
7.30pm – Is my time, it is around this time when I go for a run. It sounds crazy, I know, but having worked physically hard all day I swap my riding boots for a pair of trainers and run approximately 10k, it is how I decompress.
9pm – I have been a vegetarian for a number of years and more recently decided to become vegan. My recipe repertoire is definitely improving.
Every evening I run a very hot bath, it helps me relax and eases my aches and pains. Lights are out by 10pm, I’m exhausted and drift off to sleep planning my next Women’s Tournament and my ideal teams, you never switch off – it isn’t a job, it’s who I am.
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