Finding my Voice

This is a subject that after literally consuming self development books almost daily for the last three years, I feel like I can finally open up about. I have always been a person that relies on validation from other people, I make content people either ask for or from research I know they want to watch. This has gotten me reasonably far with regards to my audience but my head was not a happy place.

Spending around three years as ‘an Influencer/mumfluencer’ whatever you want to call it, I slowly started to HATE social media, the pressure from brands wanting results, interfering with your style and your followers judging you because lets face it no one believes you are genuine when you are being paid £1,000 to talk about a product, it was utterly soul destroying.

About two years ago after falling down the well of ‘influencing’ I publicly announced that I would no longer be called an influencer and I was in fact just a person that shared content, with no pressure and no expectation from anyone, including myself. What I did commit to doing was working with brands as a videographer and a photographer to create them content for their own social media. This sometimes involved me but I didn’t HAVE to share anything on my personal accounts.

My social media journey has been colourful and my account has moved around all of the areas of my life from fitness, cottage life, baking, interiors to now, which is horses. I would sit clueless most evenings empty of ideas after a busy day of selling my creativity to other people and basically have nothing to say.

I started personal development coaching (therapy, counselling) not sure of the best terminology, just over a year ago and the journey of weekly sessions until this present day has seen me convert from someone that constantly needs validation from everyone else, to someone that internally knows their worth (most of the time, we all have shit days) and feels no pressure to perform like a dancing monkey daily on social media.

Once feeling mentally stronger it was time to turn my attentions to social media. Who am I, what do I want to share and why do I want to share it. As a videographer and filmmaker my passion lies in provoking emotion, when you watch my videos I want you to ‘feel’ something. I sit across the room from Arabella (my daughter) and even at a distance am totally overwhelmed by the loudness and aggressive video content that is so widely available. Fast talking, loud noises, go go go, I don’t want this. I want to tell stories in a peaceful way incorporating some talking, natural sounds and appropriate music, the kind that doesn’t panic you and make you feel like you should be up and doing star jumps at 6am.

From years of google searches ‘how to grow my channel’ ‘what do people want to see’ ‘ how to get noticed’ my new strategy goes against everything I’ve read. You must post click bait, fast paced content to capture peoples attention, Loud thumbnails, long wordy captions. Nope, not doing any of it. My statement to you all today is that I will share the following:

Instagram – Life, short captions, some stories when I fancy it, I won’t work with brands unless it’s as a photographer or videographer, if I share them it’s a product I love or I’m working with the brand. I also commit to responding to DM’s predominantly with voice notes as it’s a much better way of communication with people properly.

My Blog – A variety of blogs about all aspects of my life, as and when I feel inspired, no pressure for creativity. If I write four posts one week and one the net so be it. If I’ve learned anything from working as a creative it’s that you can’t force creativity.

Youtube – A variety of videos covering parts of my life, some informative some relaxing, some just because I want to document something, I won’t commit to a schedule, I will post as and when my life allows time.

I branded my account briefly as ‘The Equestrian Blogger’ because it was a way of starting to write and find my footing in a new area without any stigma attached to it or the need to share it on my social media. It so turns out that writing makes me incredibly happy so deciding to continue down this late night coffee fuelled avenue of writing was going to need to fit in to my current ‘life plan’.

So moving forwards my account is called ‘Georgina Hannay’, I am an Equestrian and Countryside filmmaker, photographer and blogger. And I will be talking about all the things that are part of my life. This will vary from a bit of fashion (when I spend more than 12 seconds not in riding clothes) the animals, the cottage, my work the horses, holidays and whatever else I fancy journalling on here, filming for YouTube and photographing for Instagram.

Hopefully this all makes sense. It has felt like a journey of discovery finding my purpose, but I finally feel like on a personal level where I have landed is right.

I am still very much on the social media treadmill but I am wondering not sprinting.

Thanks as always for reading

My first Youtube video with a commitment on the type of content I want to create, would love to know what you think

Saying Goodbye to a Horse

Loosing a horse in any capacity is utterly gut wrenching. Today I went through my first ‘shoot’ ordeal and after spending the whole of last night in to the early hours trying to prepare myself for what to expect (which FYI there is very little) it seemed appropriate while fresh in my mind to write my own account of the entire process for anyone about to go through it.

Thankfully this was not my own horse it was a good friend of mine who became a livery client on the yard, but needless to say three weeks of care for him created a bond that still created a lot of upset today.

There remains a great debate in the Equestrian world about ‘the best way’ to euthanise (Injection or Bullet) and from speaking to both a vet and the lady that performs the ‘shoot and disposal’ today there is no right or wrong way it’s personal preference for both the owner and the horse.

Preparation

This gorgeous boy had the decision made by his owners no more than a week ago so we had nice amount of time to be able to plan thoroughly and leave no stone unturned before his departure. I would highly recommend (if it’s possible) having a photoshoot done or even just getting a friend with an iPhone to capture some special photos of you and your horse, this is something (as I’m an equine photographer) that I did for them only a few days ago. It’s a way to revisit the happy memories of your bond with your horse.

Lots of places provide jewellery where you can incorporate parts of your horses Mane or tail to keep as a memory (here is one I recommend https://www.asheswithart.co.uk though bear in mind this is not cheap) if budget is an issue before now I have just kept a horseshoe and framed it myself or jest kept a clump of tail on the mantle piece for comfort.

Before

This morning his owners came down and spend an hour with him feeding him his absolute favourite treats, in his case this was marshmallows (who knew horses liked them). This is your chance to overload them sugar or carrots and make them feel really loved and special before we say goodbye.

We decided that as he had been predominantly stabled for his time with us that he would have the run of the arena with some haylage there as an option for the remaining few hours of his life. His owners understandably made the decision to leave after saying goodbye so the reins were handed to me.

We turned him out in the arena with the sun shining on his back (It’s like It came out especially) and I spent about half an hour in the arena with him taking some extra video clips for his owners whilst he mooched and basked.

We used an incredible woman called Lizzy who runs a company called ‘Earth 2 Heaven’ based in the South West. She arrived in perfect time and honestly I didn’t know what to expect but she was so compassionate and respectful. Like I said this is the first time I have had a horse shot, previous experiences were all injection based euthanasia so I was internally very anxious not knowing what to expect.

The Process

Lizzie arrived, abandoned her car and trailer and focused entirely on meeting the horse and putting him at ease with a good wedge of polos. (I asked her all of questions afterwards which have helped me to piece together this blog) Her aim is to keep the horses as calm as possible, and in her words she will never shoot a frightened horse. She left him, went back to the car to get her pistol and again went over to him with more polos, a few minutes were spent clicking the unloaded gun to prepare him and to make sure he didn’t flinch from her.

At this point I handed the lead rope over to her and walked a few metres behind her. A few more minutes passed and I started to feel the suspense. I made the decision to turn away but did turn back just as she pulled the trigger. I reacted in a combination of panic and upset when I heard the bang and turned away again but quickly pulled myself back together and returned, I think it was more shock than anything. What comforted me in the aftermath was hearing that by the time we have heard the bang the horse is already gone, so they feel nothing, no pain, no fear, the last thing he will her remembered was eating polos and the sun shining on his back.

When a horse dies their body will react, he fell to the ground but there was still a fair bit of movement in his limbs as he went down but Lizzie repeated that he had already gone and it was his nerves and organs shutting down. Very quickly he lay motionless on his side.

I want to give an honest account of this so I will talk about the blood, there was some. Where the bullet entered his head there was a small squirt of blood that continued to flow out until he was moved from when he laid, it wasn’t stomach turning (unless I just have a strong stomach) but I would rather be honest than someone else going through this and being unprepared.

He laid motionless whilst we pulled ourselves together, Lizzie checked his eyes to make sure he was fully gone and I felt a huge pang of relief, but at the same time total disbelief that only minutes ago he was standing happily living and breathing and now he was crumpled to nothing in the sand. This is something I still need to process. I guess the power of playing god is not something we are born to understand.

The Aftermath

The next part of the process is not part I recommend being part of. Horses are incredibly big creatures and moving a limp 600kg body is not a graceful or peaceful experience. Lizzie has a winch built in to the trailer so she can wrap their legs and pull them in to the trailer with little to no actual physical strength needed. Thankfully I made the decision to walk away as this somehow felt more awful than the shot itself.

Within 15 minutes or so he was loaded and the trailer was shut, I cleared up the blood left In the sand in the arena and we continued to chat whilst I asked her a million questions (my natural response in a situation I don’t fully understand or feel uncomfortable in is to try and understand it)

‘Don’t you get upset when you have to shoot these horses’ – every single time, It’s not something you can ever get used to and it is heartbreaking even though you don’t know the horse. BUT, more often than not I am putting a horse out of misery or pain so deep down I know I am doing the right thing.

‘How many horses to you have to shoot per day’ – I shoot every single day of the week ranging from 3 horses to 5 per day. I daren’t take a day off because if a horse needs to be put out of it’s misery, I need to be there.

‘Have you ever missed?’ – I’ve been doing this for 30 years seven days per week and only twice has a horse moved so erratically I have had to take a second shot, so on that basis, no.

These are a few of the questions I asked in my desperate attempt to make sense of the situation and Lizzie kindly answered. The more we talked the more I felt at peace with it all.

After Lizzie left, I contacted the owners to let them know that he had gone peacefully and sent them the video clips I had taken prior to Lizzie arriving. I spent a good hour just still trying to internally process everything and then had to turn my attention to the other horses, who predictably remained oblivious and unaffected by the ordeal.

What comforted me the most was the Robin that frequents the yard was closer than ever and whilst I was tending to the other horses came right in to the American barn, hopping from door to door, I’m not superstitious but this did make me smile knowing this could be related in some magical way.

I know this is probably not the most uplifting of blog subjects but I was filled with anxiety last night desperately trying to find an article, a video, anything that could take me through the process step by step, so naturally I knew it was on me to create something people could find and read to ease their anxiety if they find themselves in my situation.

So much love as always and if you are reading this with a loss of your own on the cards, my thoughts are with you.

Saying Goodbye to a Horse – The Audio

The Equestrian Lifestyle

Theres no denying if you’re not an equestrian you WILL NOT GET IT.

This felt like the right post to start my new blog with. At the grand old age of 36 (I swear I feel older because I have been broken by horses so many times) there is no denying that I have lost count of the amount of people that have stood entirely dumbstruck with some of the life choices ‘equestrians’ make. Maybe you’re here because you’re trying to understand your equestrian mad friend/child/girlfriend.

Maybe you are horse mad yourself and just need a reminder that you are not alone and they way you behave is TOTALLY normal for an equestrian.

Our Horses are like our Children

I have a daughter, a beautiful sassy nine year old to be precise. BUT my horses still fit in to the category of being my babies (entirely on a par with biological children). Judge away but if your a horse owner you will get it. Our horses are literally our everything and they will be spoken about and treated in the same way actual children or family members are. I can’t explain it, it just works that way. They keep us safe (most of the time) and we repay them with all our our money, energy, sanity and love.

Equestrian Broke Vs. Normal Broke

Huge vets bills, normal living expenses, competition entries and the general day to day running of a horse will leave you utterly broke, like literally putting £10 of fuel in your car at a time. However ‘Equestrian broke’ always finds a way to buy the limited edition L’Mieux saddle pad when it suddenly appears in your Instagram feed. Normal broke you’d be living on beans, scraping together pennies to cover the utility bills, but when it comes to a matchy matchy selection on any kind of offer there is just no way you won’t find a way. EDF can wait a little longer for their electricity payment when your horse NEEDS that cornflower blue matchy set for their next Instagram selfie.

Competitions come before any social gatherings

If you’ve just starting dating a horsey girl or guy LISTEN TO THIS ONE. Your plans will always be out of the window if a last minute competition comes up on My Riding Life. Being social and sitting round the dinner table for prolonged periods of time is not an option for an Equestrian. Keep social interaction short and sweet, there is always something we would rather be doing, even if we pretend there’s not. And even cleaning your horses sheath (penis) is a preferable option over forced family time. Always be prepared to be stood up if god forbid something is wrong with the horse. I have literally missed important family gatherings to sit on poo watch after a bout of colic.

Be Prepared we Smell

And it’s not of roses. Horses sh*t (a lot) and wee (a lot) and haylage (this is the stuff we put in nets for endless hours) this really stinks. Once we’re in the warm the concoction of faded shit/piss and haylage smells a bit like vomit. We don’t smell it, much like a smoker is utterly immune to the stench they project. Don’t make a fuss, it’s our life, remember we will always put the horses first so get some Vicks round your nostrils and suck it up, lay safe in the knowledge that we will leave you before we leave the horse. We also don’t understand the concept of separating clothes. I have been known to muck out in high heels prior to a client meeting or a night out, with literally no sh*ts given.

We don’t do lie ins

Most people work the 9-5 weekly grind then enjoy lazing around in bed until late on the weekend. NOPE unless we are really sick or physically can’t stand (which would take broken legs) we will be at the yard with the horses at the crack of dawn and not staying in bed for cuddles and spooning. If you try and stop us we will become irrational and spend even longer at the yard. I like to blame it on needing the fresh air when I wake up, but it’s actually just a really good excuse for being entirely antisocial and spending more time with my horses.

Yard Time Vs. Real Time

Honestly it’s impressive, how it’s not in the Guinness Book of World Records I’ll never know. ‘I’ll be a couple of hours’ or ‘I’m just whizzing down to pop the horses to bed’ is not something you want to take too literally. we will be HOURS, once your at the yard you are in an alternate universe where clocks don’t exist, time doesn’t matter and hours pass just gazing at your horse over the stable door, scrolling through equestrian Instagram accounts or just taking 345 selfies with your horse to get the perfect one.

We will put our Horses health before our own

I have literally been thrown forcefully off a horse, broken my shoulder (in a number of places) been told by a medical professional to rest, ignored all advice and gone straight home to muck out. As an equestrian the equine physio, vet, Chiro, dentist comes as a priority over our own welfare. As stated above it takes an awful lot to floor an equestrian, normally some kind of sedative or smashed up limbs.

My horses manes and tails are brushed daily and plaited, I barely remember the last time I washed my hair or changed my pants. This will never change so just get used to it.

Conclusion

If you are an equestrian and you can relate to all of the above, CONGRATULATIONS, you are normal and Hey, we should be friends.

If you are dating, parent to or friends with an Equestrian, I suggest you reread al the above and get used to the fact you will ALWAYS be second best.

Thanks so much for reading my first blog. I would love to know what you thought and stay tuned for more.

The Equestrian Lifestyle – The Audio