Reflections of 2020…
…by Georgina / from the United Kingdom / MSc Equine Science / 1st Year
Reflections of 2020…
With the occurrence of advent, now is the time of year when we all start to look back over the last 12 months – what wehave enjoyed, what we have achieved, when we have failed and when we have struggled.
Obviously COVID-19 has impacted us all and has put many people’s dreams and ambitions to one side.
I am lucky enough to be continuing my training towards my British Horse Society Stage 3 qualification, which would mean gaining entry on to the Accredited Professional Coaching register. This has been a lifelong ambition of mine, and something which this year I have found exceptionally challenging.
In August of this year, I ‘sat’ my Care and Lunge exams during the extreme heat. Unfortunately, I was not very well and ended up collapsing with extreme heatstroke at the side of the A404 on my way home. A passing concrete mixer driver found me laying in the grass and sat with me for nearly 2 hours, encouraging me to drink water in between vomiting and hyperventilating. Due to COVID, the Ambulance service said that the Police would have to take me home as the priority was to remove me from the side of the dual carriageway, which I politely declined and decided to wait for my symptoms to calm. What a way to end a day I had been looking forward to for months on end!
Unfortunately, I failed two of my Care units. However, I passed the lunging part of the exam, which I am now genuinely elated about. At the time though, I was extremely disappointed and very upset. But failures teach us more about ourselves than victories, and it will always be a story to tell in years to come.
When I graduated from my Undergraduate degree from Harper Adams and decided to work as a full-time groom and trainee riding instructor, I truly was starting all over again. On an apprenticeship wage of £175 per week, long unsociable hours in all weathers and a constant whiff of horse muck and oversweet haylage following me around, it’s safe to say my life wasn’t glamorous and it hardly compared to a graduate scheme at an international company.
Nevertheless, I learned lessons in life no one could have taught me. I made friends, worked hard beyond physical limits and laughed the most I had in years. My best friend Paige is still in my life today after 5 years of knowing and supporting me. If someone would have told me then that I would be a riding instructor, never mind a Lecturer in Equine Management at an agricultural college when I was a groom, I would have thought there would be more chance of me winning the EuroMillions when I don’t even buy tickets.
However, having dedication, a down to earth attitude and a work ethic goes a long way. Even though my Agriculture degree wasn’t specifically relevant to the job role, I had proven I was hardworking, studious and had a sense of independence. I believe that Higher Education enables people to discover who they truly are, and what they really want to do with their life, whether it be related to the subject they are studying or not!
To an employer, the fact that a candidate at interview has studied at HE level showcases various traits and skills without words needed to be spoken to validate them. So even if during these strange times you feel overwhelmed about finding a graduate level role, or making decisions that will impact your future, there are many pathways to achieve your goals and everyone has their own unique story. Some of my (many) failures have meant that greater things were waiting for me in the future, even though at the time no one, let alone myself would ever have believed where I am now to be at all possible.
The Level 3 Year 2 students that I course manage are now beginning to look at employment and HE destinations for the end of this academic year, and I find myself constantly repeating various clichés like this to them all.
The photograph above is of me at a local showjumping competition at home in South Yorkshire competing on a friend’s Connemara pony mare the summer after passing my Stage 2 Showjumping exam four months after breaking my right foot riding the same mare on Christmas Eve 2016. This isn’t because I am tough, strong or fearless, in fact quite the opposite, but because I wanted to pass that riding assessment more than anything in the world and dedicated 7 days of every week to do so.
Failures are a gift. Something right now may not be meant for you, yet greatness will be waiting. The vast majority of successful people in life achieve their dreams soon after they were just about to quit and give in.
So, don’t you give up either. Or as I say to my students:
Show me someone that never failed, and I will show you someone that never lived – as we will be looking at the same person. Just make sure it’s not you in the mirror.