Making it happen

Everyone dreams and everyone has dreams, but how do you go about making those dreams come true? I’m going to tell you the story of how I got my little chestnut mare ‘Annie’ to England. If someone had told me 4 years ago what I have done, I never would have believed them.

Let’s go back a little bit further, to the beginning. How did I end up with this little girl? I wasn’t looking for another horse but when I got a phone call from a dear friend, I figured what’s the harm in having a look? I was told about a little chestnut mare that didn’t make it on the track because she wasn’t nasty or fast enough. Her breeder from Box Arrow Farm in Portland, Ontario wanted her to have a second chance at a career. She saw something special in the little mare. She didn’t look like much when I first brought her home.

Annie as a 3 year old

The plan was to bring her on and sell her, but obviously I haven’t done that. She even made the journey to Ocala, Florida with me when I worked for Bruce Davidson for the winter season in 2017. That was the season I really started competing her. After that, I abandoned her with my wonderful sister when I went away to Germany. When I came back, I was told if I leave again the horse cannot stay. I know I was probably just being soft, but I couldn’t bring myself to sell her. Why I like her so much, I’m not sure; she’s opinionated and not always the easiest of rides, but I do truly think she is little and mighty.

I’ll set the scene for you. I arrive home from Germany, last year, July 2018 having got the job with Nicola in England. If I have a dollar for every time I was asked what I was doing with Annie, I’d be rich. At first, I just said I wasn’t sure, but as the weeks passed and the pressure became more intense from Alex to find a solution for the horse, I decided to post her for sale. She takes beautiful jumping photos, so of course I had a lot of interest, but I wasn’t about to give her away, so I am almost positive that the price I put on her was a bit extreme. Anyways, I only had one person try her who surprisingly really liked her but was looking for something a bit younger.

At the same time she was up for sale, I started thinking about the idea of bringing her and just how cool that would be. I remember telling my friend Anne-Marie one morning as we were mucking out stalls, how cool would it be if I brought her with me? There was a momentary pause, pretty sure she was like ‘ummm’ then changed the subject pretty fast. I know she thought I was crazy, but she also knows how I say crazy things and then actually follow through with them. The next person I told was Brittany, now this girl is amazing because, for whatever reason, she believes in me 100%. Her reaction was perfect. ‘How are we going to do this?’ My answer, ‘I have no idea.’ As the weeks passed, I thought pretty hard about this. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me it was terrifying to think of flying my 15.2 horse across the world. Especially when she is not always easy. I started looking into this in much more detail, got quotes from some shipping companies to see how much money I actually needed. I was told to budget $12,000. When I heard that, I immediately thought ‘no way can I make this happen.’ I didn’t have that sitting around in my savings, and I couldn’t fathom any possible way of getting it.

I once again went to Brittany. If I am ever in doubt of myself, this is the person I go to. Together, we made a plan for me to send letters to companies and individuals explaining what I wanted to do and asking for sponsorship or a donation. Brittany was adamant that I put together an online auction. I had done one in the past, raising money to go to a big competition, but I was reluctant to do it again. To be honest, I think I was afraid of what people would think, there were a few people I didn’t want to tell at all. I valued their opinion, and the thought of them telling me I was stupid… well, I couldn’t handle that. This is where Deborah stepped in. I know 99% of you don’t know the people I am talking about, but that’s okay. If the people I’m writing about happen to read this blog, I want them to know their hard work and generosity did not go unnoticed and was very much appreciated. I sent my sponsorship letter to Deborah, she then emailed it out to quite a few of her contacts. That is how I got on to CKWS Morning Show!

To this day, I still have not watched that interview. If anyone isn’t following, Deborah got me a TV interview. She let me think it was radio for a few days … then dropped the bomb that it was TV. I am so thankful she helped me prepare for this, I still have the mock interview on my phone and, let me tell you, it’s soooo cringy. I think this interview, even though it wasn’t perfect, showed people I was serious. To be honest, I don’t really think the fella interviewing me knew what I was trying to do. He seemed to think I was going to Tokyo 2020; sorry for the disappointment. After the interview, it felt like things really got rolling.

High Tea

Because I was going to England it seemed fitting to put on an afternoon tea fundraiser. Huge thank you to Deborah, Kelsy, and Julie. Without these three… actually four, thank you mum, this fundraiser would not have happened. There were sandwiches, cakes, tea, and mimosas. Door prizes and a beautiful jacket that was auctioned off, donated by Julia, the owner of Greenhawk Kingston. It was amazing to see the amount of support this Tea brought, people who couldn’t attend sent me donations because they wanted to help out. Thank you to everyone. I truly appreciate all the support you've given me. I enjoyed talking to everyone that came to the Tea, I told them about my experiences at Ingrid's and what my plans for the future were. It’s an amazing feeling to have so many people believe in you and want you to succeed.

Online Auction

I don’t quite have the timeline straight as to what happened when, it all happened quite quickly, basically simultaneously. Took me a while, but I got my act together putting up an online auction on Facebook, again there were so many businesses and individuals that were so willing to support me. Absolutely amazing. Thank you!

After the Auction and the Tea, I had enough to buy Annie a flight. I can remember thinking… omg I am really going to do this. Then a whole new set of fears set in, I didn’t want to let anyone down. But I had done it, in about 2 months I fundraised enough money to get her to England.

Her Journey

February 5th, Annie went into quarantine and on March 10th boarded her flight.

Leaving quarantine

March 16th she arrived at Park Hills Farm. I was told she travelled well but to be honest she looked exhausted. For the following week she basically just chilled, I wasn't in a rush so I wanted to give her time to recover from her journey. Once she looked a bit brighter and got her appetite back she started walk work, on the horse walker and under saddle.

It's now the middle of June and she is ready to get a move on and get out competing. I took her show jumping last week and had a blast. My hope for what's left of the season is to start her at BE100, if all goes well move up to Novice. I am looking forward to winter as I would really like to take her hunting!

If you have enough determination, nothing is impossible.

That is the main point of this blog. Literally nothing is impossible if you are determined enough to fight for it. This whole experience has taught me that people are willing to help, given the chance, sometimes they just don’t know how. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you can't do something alone. Be grateful for the tiniest of favour, it really does take a village. These ladies are still 100% behind me, I know that because they continue to help me from across the pond!

tori xx

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