“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men and weak men create hard times ”
The Quote above is a saying I heard recently on Instagram which rocked me to the core! The full reel explained how the man’s father walked ten miles to work each day. The man himself drove a cheap car, his son drove a fancy car, his grandson will drive a sports car but his great grandson will be back walking.
On a similar tone, my father had his own version of the saying which he often recited to me
“After a gatherer comes a squander” Usually it would be expressed when I was costing him an absolute fortune in motorsport or one of my many extravagant hobbies growing up.
The truth of these wise sayings is visible to me now in daily life in particular within the industry. I’m getting closer to forty now than I am thirty and I find myself looking around wondering what has happened to all the hard workers and grafters I grew up watching and aspiring to be like??
So where the hell is this article going…… ya…. I was thinking the exact same thing so let me get to the point. Working with horses sucks and it takes a particularly hardened type of mofo to work in this game and I am worried that our future is in jeopardy.
Wind, rain, ice, snow and unbearable heat are some of the extremes we face on a daily basis not to mention the s#!t dirt blood sweat tears and smells we have to deal with!! Any normal human being would run a mile when they see what has to be done behind the scenes.
So why do we do what we do? Some people find inner peace when working with horses, others do it for the love of the animals, for me it’s a drug. It’s that two minutes during a race of high levels of anxiety, worry and fear and then it’s the WIN that feeling when the result comes. That feeling of knowing you are or have produced the best on that day is something I’ve chased since I was 12 years old. It started in motorsport until I switched to horses 16 years later. That high is something I craved more than anything in this world for a long time.
Now my focus has changed. My goal now is to replicate that high for others by breeding from our successful bloodstock. Breeding our mares to the best stallions available to us and hopefully watching them progress to the winner’s enclosure. Why the change? It was always my goal to move in this direction but it has been somewhat accelerated by the ongoing staffing issues we have been facing the past few years.
We now live in a world where a very decent living can be easily made sitting in a nice warm office. Our education system is moulding our young people to be more tech savvy and steering them towards jobs that have little or no physical activity, increasing the need for gyms as people are becoming so institutionalised they feel the need to do everything in groups.
Working alone is now completely frowned upon and the reality for small operations is that it’s becoming next to impossible to stay afloat and keep staff. Large operations still find it tough to maintain the optimum number of staff but they don’t find it near as difficult as the smaller yards. This applies to all forms of equine business from racing to show jumping to breeding. For our operation there is 4 hours of hard work every morning, the rest of the day is quite leisurely and is more about attention to detail like the horse’s welfare from grooming to cleaning water pots but trying to find someone to do this is proving impossible in certain areas of the country.
I firmly believe that our society, from the education system to our parenting methods (myself included) have become so focused on giving the next generation a better life, that we have completely lost sight of the value of hard work and unless our vision of this better life starts to include the valuable lessons of dealing with defeat, pressure and hard graft the equine industry that we love so much is doomed to fail.
However, one thing I am sure of is that every generation should be better than the last and that generation should learn everything the previous one knows and pick up its own extra bit of knowledge along the way, this should always include the tough lessons we are so eager for them to avoid. “The rise from a fall is the greatest of them all”
Modern life can be certainly more efficient with the use of internet making more products and information available to us all faster than we ever imagined growing up, but simple things that took for granted like family shopping trips and going to buy the latest cd (compact disc … round shiny thing with music on) have seemed to completely disappear. Cycling up the road to your friends house to hang out has been replaced by Snapchat TikTok and other apps. It’s like technology has made it too easy for younger people to avoid fresh air and exercise.
Two questions I’ll leave you with.
Is this behaviourism starting to reflect in the equine industry with fewer people seeking a career with horses?
How will we ensure this issue does not become the reason Ireland loses our status as one of the best equine producing countries in the world?