Hope you enjoyed the holidays. We're all recovering here in Ireland from the bad weather. It's been the worst conditions experienced for 50 years - everything has been disrupted, including my workshops at Waterside and my demonstrations at Sligo and Killarney. All have been postponed, but new dates will go up shortly on this site.
2009 was a difficult year, especially here in Ireland with the recession seeming to hit us more than others. The experts say that the first six months of this year will not be pretty either. My view, though, is that it's now going to be survival of the fittest. While we all enjoyed and relished the good years and the Celtic Tiger, this was not reality. I think many people within Ireland lived beyond their means and in reading the newspapers and following what's going on it's sad to see the demise of people who were once thought untouchable.
We must cut our cloth to measure, keep costs down, but ultimately keep the head up, keep positive and keep going. 2009 was probably one of my most successful years career-wise, reaching my highest ranking ever - 30th in the world - and winning the Alltech Olympia Grand Prix for Ireland, the first time in 22 years anyone had done this.
I saw a new film the other night, The Road. It's very appropriate for the times in which we live. I won't spoil the storyline for you but the gist of it is - keep going, never give up, and keep the faith.
Most people I talk to at home are down about the economic situation but me being always the optimist I try and look at the positive and always in bad times I think somebody must do well and there have to be opportunities out there.
My generation and younger perhaps had things too easy over the past ten years. However, the next five years will sort the men from the mice. Some may wonder why I'm discussing business when I'm supposed to be a show jumper but as I've said on numerous occasions it's not enough just to be able to ride a horse and see a stride. The modern day show jumper has to be able to survive in the business world as well.
Over the next number of years it's going to be harder to find owners and sponsors and as a result, top class horses. In a strange way these challenges actually motivate me and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to what I hope will be a successful and fruitful year.
Check back later for more.