This is your Facebook Operative speaking. As regular readers know, I usually write this page in the voice of HorseBack. But occasionally I break cover because there is something personal that I want to say. This is one of those times.
The HorseBack team is scattered at the moment – all of us locked down, most of us on furlough, none of us able to go up to the farm to see the horses. Jock and Emma are holding the fort, as they have done since March. Since the latest stage of strict rules came in, we have started having Zoom meetings again, simply so we can see each other and make contingency plans and think of anything we can do to contribute to our community in these tough times. We are very, very conscious of the mental health implications of this pandemic, because that is our area of expertise, and that is something we discuss a lot.
We had such a meeting today. We are all finding our own difficulties in this time of isolation. Humans, like horses, are social animals: we need our friends and communities and groups just as horses need their herd. But as the meeting went on, we all started smiling and laughing and making the usual bad jokes; there were new projects for us to work on, and everyone began having brilliant ideas. I left feeling so much better because, even though I am in my house alone, I had my people. I feel so privileged to be part of this great enterprise, and to work with men and women who are so inspiring and dedicated. Suddenly, I was not on my own; I was part of something greater than myself. And that made everything better.
So I wrote the words you see on today’s photograph. HorseBack has always been about the power of the team – we have seen that over the years as our veterans come together and remember that they are not isolated, but a part of a greater whole. We see it with our young people, as they do their team-building exercises with our brilliant Jay Hare. But today I realised that this power is not just for the people who come on our courses; it exists between us too. We all work together for something we believe in, and we all support each other, and we are friends as well as colleagues. And in this strange time of atomisation, that makes all the difference.
So I wanted to send out a singing note of gratitude, to my incredible team. The weather might be rotten, the news might seem relentlessly bad, and the future may seem uncertain, but I have my crew, and that means that I can walk on into the storm, with my head up high and hope in my heart. Because, with this lot, I never walk alone.