A bit about Rachael:
If you were to ask me, I suppose the biggest change that has happened in the last few months is that I sold my wagon. Now I could forgive you for thinking that this doesn’t seem like such a big deal without proper context. So allow me to give you that context, and hopefully it will help to show how serious we both are about this business and the sacrifices that are sometimes necessary along the way to achieving a dream.
Bear with me here; it will all make sense by the end…
Having ridden from the age of 3 and always being what my Dad termed “pony mad”, by the age of 12 I had begged and pleaded enough that my parents finally resigned themselves to their fate and bought me my first horse, Danny.
We bought Danny with dreams of me joining the local Pony Club and eventually competing. I had big aspirations. Today, Pony Club. One day, Badminton Horse Trials!
…Unfortunately, life rarely works out as neatly as our plans, and the next years of my life went a very different way.
When I was 13 I was diagnosed with a long term chronic fatigue syndrome called M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis – for those able to pronounce such a mouthful). I lived with this illness for 7 very long and very difficult years. 7 years of being mostly housebound. I lost my education, my friends and any resemblance of a ‘normal’ teenage life.
I also lost out on the ability to do the one thing I wanted most in the world – compete with my horse. Although I always pushed myself to train and ride Danny, my health simply wasn’t up to it. Instead of going out and achieving my own dreams, I was resigned to watching my friends achieve theirs instead. It was utterly devastating.
By the time I turned 20, I had finally begun to regain my health. As it turns out, although I may not be blessed with the best of health at times, I am blessed with some of the most incredible parents in the world. In particular, my Mother Janet, who having watched her daughter strive and suffer for so long, decided she would do what she could to help me finally achieve my dreams.
And so, in a feat of quite astounding persuasive skills, she convinced my Dad to use a pot of their life savings to buy me a 7.5 tonne horsebox. She also supported me in my decision to spend my own savings buying myself a horse that would be talented enough to chase these dreams on. He turned out to be quite a characterful chestnut gelding named Alfie! With better health, a horse fit to compete on, and a wagon to get me there; I could finally compete!!
And so for the next few years, I trucked around the country in my amazing wagon with my wonderful Alfie and my frankly incredible non-horsey parents. They tried their hardest to throw themselves into a world neither of them knew much about to try and give me back the years I’d been robbed of.
It was brilliant, and I dedicated my life to it. Everything revolved around it. I rode 6 days a week, regardless of the weather. I trained tirelessly. I spent everything I earned on training and competing, buying clothes off eBay for 90p just so I could afford to pay my entry fees. I cried A LOT because my god working with horses is difficult, and sometimes it feels like you have more setbacks than wins. But I picked myself up every time, and I kept on chasing my dream.
Along with Alfie and my trusty wagon, over the course of 6 years we competed at not one but two affiliated disciplines. He qualified for Championships, got me my first ever win at affiliated level, was placed at every competition he went to for an entire season and trained to a higher level of dressage than I ever thought I would be capable of riding to. Dreams can come true!
Then suddenly I blinked and I was 27. And realised I should probably actually do something with my life outside of horses. And low and behold, the universe dropped Sam into my path. It did not take long to realise we both wanted the exact same thing in life, and that our shared passions and interests fit together like two jigsaw puzzles. Sam’s love of farmhouse artisan cheese making and my love of farming, with our shared belief in low input traditional methods.
When we began this venture in earnest, it became obvious that I would need to take a step back from my current full on life of intensive riding and competing. Not only would the business need my full care and attention but also every penny we could spare. Therefore, I made the decision to sell my absolute pride and joy, my wagon. As I said above, without the correct context it doesn’t seem like such a huge deal, but I hope that having read a little of my story it becomes clear what a huge and difficult decision this was for me to make. My wagon represented everything of my old life and selling it was an enormous sacrifice for me in many ways.
Watching it drive away, off to its new life with a new owner definitely gave me some very mixed emotions. There was obviously tears and sadness for the loss of my wagon and the way of life I had with it. No more days out as a family, my trusty wagon dog Spook at my side, my partner and co-pilot Alfie in the back.
But overriding that sadness was the resounding feeling of excitement and new horizons. Sam and I believe in our business, we believe in the ethics and morals behind the way we want to farm, in supporting small local businesses and promoting rare breeds. We believe in low impact, sustainable farming and traditional methods. And I believe that sometimes, it’s necessary to make difficult decisions and sacrifices in pursuit of your dreams.
Once again, my parents proved their unending support for me by allowing Sam and I to keep half of the money that they got from the sale of the wagon. This money will go towards setting up our business and helping us chase our new shared dream together.
And who knows, maybe in a few years’ time I’ll dust my competition jacket off and Alfie and I will get back out there, sponsored by Long Churn Cheese!