Chapter Nine – A Sense of Purpose

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The long-term, life-changing bond I had with Ego is something that I have felt with Tag and was quite unexpected. When I started this journey with Tag I really didn’t know what to expect and was relying on every bit of knowledge I had with horses and thoroughbreds to decide whether he was worth the effort. That may sound harsh and I know that some people believe that every horse is worth the effort, but I am not one of those people. I am a devoted lover of animals, always have been, but after years of working with horses that have a very clear purpose, be that; looking after an amateur rider round a small track, capable of jumping and winning a grand prix, good enough to be competitive in a point to point or just simply quiet enough to sit my daughter on, ultimately I wasn’t prepared to have a horse as a pet. I just hoped that racing hadn’t spoiled Tag for any other vocation. What that new role would be was up for debate, but ultimately he had to become a ‘sensible riding horse’ that could give me a bit of fun in the meantime. My friend said I was having a mid-life crisis, and as I contemplated re-naming Tag just that, the appeal of trying my hand at showing was becoming stronger. But showing is different to any other equestrian discipline that I have previously encountered. In a way it suits my turn-out requirements as I have to have things done a certain way and even if the show is not regarded as such a big show there are certain things will always be done the same way. My boss in Australia, Helen Chugg was a dressage, show hack rider that had married a show jumper, so consequently when the horses cantered in to a grand prix they had the level of turn out expected in the show ring. Helen liked things done a certain way and every horse had the same treatment and was turned out just as well as the next. Before they were seen in public they were bathed with tails dyed, if it was the winter they were clipped from their head to their toes, if it was the summer they were always brushed a certain way before bathing and freshly washed show sheets were put on. They were plaited with thread in English rose plaits, their tails were always plaited, never pulled, and they all wore false tails. When you have that sort of enthusiasm for making horses look good, with you on a daily basis, it is difficult not to have it rub off and I would like to think that eventually a bit of attention to detail on turn out would help us out in the show ring.

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