If you are a regular blog reader then you will know here at Paul’s yard, January is never the most happening month in our calendar.

The beginning of the year very much represents a pause for a small reset right in the middle of our season. Depending on schedules and race plans all the horses will have a quiet couple of weeks in January, time to step back from the pressure cooker of training, a spell to freshen up and become ready for the month of racing ahead of us.

In all honesty I think January represents that for the human side of our yard as well as we tend to find ourselves busier than ever over the festive period and, for me, these couple of weeks give me time to get my breath back and set up ready to go again into the most important time of our season, the spring.

It is currently six o’clock at Manor Farm Stables, the only noises outside are the kick bolts on the stable doors as Clifford wakes up and feeds his 82 expectant equine children and, while I know we aren’t the coldest place in Britain, the two and a half degrees it is this morning is helped in no way by the biting cold breeze that rolls in and out of the yard, a breeze that promises to tighten its grip on top of Ditcheat hill this morning.

Not that I am complaining though, quite the opposite in fact as it is times like these when I think our yard is at its best and I’ll explain why.

Currently, there isn’t a huge amount of racing for us every day to sink our teeth into nor is there tons of schooling to get excited about at home, instead there is a group of people quietly working away knowing that better, brighter, warmer days are ahead of us and that doing a good job with our horses now is paramount to making those days memorable. Although they may be quietly and efficiently going about their work within our four walls, it makes me proud that there is a number of our team making a splash outside of our perimeter, excelling in their chosen field.

Team achievements illuminate a quiet month

Whether that be Rose Loxton who trained yet another winning point to pointer on Sunday with the evergreen Caid Du Berlais, or Harriet Tucker who rode her second winner of the season on that very horse, or Lorcan Williams whose riding is becoming more and more noticed as the days go by, something which is giving me great satisfaction.

It might be Bryony Frost, who has just landed the job as ambassador for Exeter races for 2018, a job I know she will make her own and with that inspire and encourage a younger generation of race goers in the process, something I know she is relishing.

It could be Alex Thorne, whose work rate never ceases to amaze me, finding time outside of his long hours here to enhance his skills in the saddle and grow his contacts. He sets a fantastic example to us all in working tirelessly to get to where you want to go.

It could also be Greg, our resident guitar-playing Kiwi who can make a mundane second lot in the cold a haven with interesting conversation, a couple of stories and just for good measure a life lesson formed from a life of moving around the globe, meeting new people and smiling. What a nice skill to have. I don’t think a day goes by where Greg doesn’t give me a podcast to listen to, a book to read or a documentary to watch, all of which provides a healthy dose of reality in a world I am completely engrossed by.

Greg’s wisdom strikes a chord

As I looked around the yard at quarter to six on Sunday evening I was joined by Greg and we once again started chatting about his experiences, this time with reference to a podcast which he described to me. The theme of the chat was that in order to really achieve great things in a certain discipline it’s not the big days where you are in the limelight that one needs to relish it is the day-to-day which are the bread and butter of the yard.

It is not the end result and attention the yard receives for winning where the focus needs to directed, instead the process that goes with it. The enjoyment must come from getting that horse to behave a little better with every canter, or that person riding a little better every, it is the efforts produced from the everyday grind of the yard which enables a group to achieve great things.

Happily when I look around the yard I believe I see a group of people that are doing just that, working hard from day to day, week to week, month to month and slowly but surely being part of this team we are playing a huge part in growing and continuing Paul’s year-upon-year success.

That might not be headline news in some folk’s eyes but for me to be a part of that group gives me excellent reason to spring out of bed every morning and look forward to the day ahead, whatever that might bring.