After a super-hot and super-busy summer, the holiday season is finally slowing down, and as we’ve all managed to catch our breaths a little, I think it’s only right to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to my super team who have gone above and beyond the call of duty this year.
With temperatures pushing 40 degrees at times and working days that finish long into the night, every member of staff at George’s Ranch has done themselves proud, not to mention me and our fabulous horses.
Our Yard Manager Michelle has excelled after taking sole charge of the huge number of tourists that have walked through our gates; organising back-to-back hacks with a friendly efficiency that has earned her a flurry of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, reviews in which she’s personally named. Her fantastic efforts have also brought a number of repeat clients this summer, which is fantastic for her and fantastic for the Ranch.
I don’t think people realise how much is actually involved in organising these hacks. We see a lot of people over the course of the summer who we don’t know and whose level and experience we are also unsure of – thankfully, we have fantastic horses who cope admirably with so many different riders and they really are a credit to us – but Michelle has to use her judgment as to which horses will suit which rider best.
Of course, the hack is only part of the story; it takes time to get the horses ready, it takes time to untack them and wash them down afterwards. And then there is the yard work to complete because we have more than 40 horses to care for. As a result, it is not uncommon for the staff to finish work at 10pm, which is a long day by anyone’s standards.
As well as organising and juggling so many hacks, Michelle is responsible for arranging lessons for our regular clients as well as visitors. It is also worth noting that she worked the whole summer without taking a single day of sick leave, which is no mean feat in this heat. The same goes for our loyal and diligent yard man, Chanchal, who has worked immensely hard to keep our Ranch ticking over and our horses fed and watered. He really has become an indispensable part of the team.
Our flame-haired adventurer, Shirley, has also done a great job this year taking out experienced riders. This is something that is far more challenging than people might realise because rather like driving another car for the first time, someone might know how to drive but they might not be familiar with how a new car works, and it’s the same with horses. Therefore, it’s Shirley’s job to gauge the level of her riders in order to give them the best experience she can while ensuring their safety.
This year, we were also joined at the Ranch by young apprentices, Eva and Leah, who took out hacks, took care of the horses, filled in for other members of staff on their days off and generally gave much needed help around the yard. For Eva, this was a summer job and she has now returned to school to start her A Levels whereas Leah is hoping to pursue a career with horses so, happily, she is staying on with us.
Karen, our resident British Horse Society instructor, also worked flat out this summer giving lessons and taking out experienced hacks. Although Karen typically sees a decrease in her regular clients, who choose the summer to go away on holiday, she was kept incredibly busy by holidaymakers booking lessons – with many of them coming back for more.
Karen’s daughter, Sophie, was also a great help, despite having to juggle a full-time job, and she stepped in to give lessons, take out hacks and lend an extra hand on Pony Club days.
Of course, the tourist season isn’t over yet and just as many hotels remain full so does our diary, but once the school holidays are over life does return to a more sedate pace until October, which will be exciting not only because it’s half-term, but also because the international trainer, Paul Fielder, will be returning to the Ranch!
So, as you can see, there’s never a dull moment, but for now, all that remains for me to say is THANK YOU to Michelle, Chanchal, Shirley, Eva, Leah, Karen and Sophie.
You guys rock!