It is great to be back writing my column after a short break over the Christmas period. I cannot believe that we are at the end of January already. The way the fixtures have fallen so far has meant that it has been a relatively quiet start to the New Year at the Britannia, with only Wrexham gracing the pitch for Stoke’s winning FA Cup home fixture. Since then, Stoke have advanced ever closer to Wembley Stadium with this weeks win against Rochdale.
My competition year started with great success at Addington High Profile show a few weeks ago. The freezing weather conditions and threat of snow couldn’t stop us hardcore ‘Dressage Diva’s’ from strutting our stuff. I knew it was really cold when I was rudely awoken at 3am by the subzero temperature in my truck and I swear there was even ice on the inside of my windows. Clearly I hadn’t travelled enough in these colder conditions when I admitted, to an astounded audience, that I in fact did not own an essential piece of equipment, a heated blanket! I now have my very own safely stowed away for next time. I am feeling really positive and excited about the upcoming year.
The ‘Chronic’ New Years Resolution…
Speaking of the end of January- how are everyone’s New Years resolutions going? It is inevitable that we all set out with great determination to succeed with our resolutions and if you are still going strong- good work! Like many, I ditched the chocolate and treats and my wine glass has been sat empty having been denied its preferred Pinot Noir. All in favour of the gym partnered with a healthy and ‘clean’ diet.
In preparation for this year’s competition season, it is important that the focus on fitness and health is not exclusively applied to our horses, which we treat as top athletes, but to also ourselves as riders. Therefore I have embarked on improving my fitness and diet and I have to say that I am already feeling the benefits and have wondered why I didn’t come to this revelation sooner? It is a careful balance between training, preparation and management out of the saddle, which is predominantly where most of the work is done.
This same methodology is what is practiced by footballers; with the majority of time being spent perfecting their bodies for their careers and honing their skills in daily training. The actual game time is but a fraction of the work and dedication that they put into their careers.
With the Premier League season continuing through the colder months of winter, the opportunity of a warm weather training break is always welcome. Stoke recently returned from a week in Dubai where they were able to take some respite from the bitterly cold weather that has grasped the UK and enjoyed time training together in the sun with a chance for some team bonding. Asmir commented to me that the trip was great as everyone returned feeling refreshed, recharged and positive, ready to build on what has been a strong start to Stoke’s season so far. So as I always say, the parallels between horses and footballers are similar indeed.
Super Bowl Sunday
It is one of the world’s biggest sporting events, famous not just for the American football, but for its half-time shows usually with a dose of celebrity controversy mixed in. For advertisers, this is some of the most expensive television time I the world with a thirty-second advert slot costing over four million dollars. For the fellow horse (and beer lovers of course), we wait with baited breath each year to see what advertising delight Budweiser will produce with their famous Clydesdale horses that always bring people to tears with their endearing plot lines.
Asmir will of course be cheering for his team of choice, the New England Patriots, who have made over eight appearances in the final and won the prestigious trophy three times. Not only is Asmir a huge fan of the Patriots but also one of his most admired athletes is their star quarterback, Tom Brady. Maybe it is the similarities in their respective roles of on the field that Asmir can relate to Brady- or is it because they look very alike? I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.
‘REAL HOUSEWIVES’ HAS ARRIVED….
The famous reality franchise has arrived all the way from America and has debuted in the UK. What a treat it is to see another Stoke City wife adorning our television screens. Tanya Bardsley is fast becoming the star of the reality show Real Housewives Of Cheshire, showcasing the luxuries that Cheshire has to offer its residents. Tanya is proving to be one of the most liked and popular on the show with the viewing audience, which comes as no surprise as she’s incredibly down to earth and very funny.
Till next time…