It’s only just dawned on me, but by the end of last year, I was close to burnout. This carriage business has been my main focus for over a decade, and while finally starting to thrive, the pressure was starting to intensify also. 

Pressure that I had put on myself trying to train unsuitable horses, trying to maintain such numbers while constantly yarding, trying to shine in the award stratosphere with tourism awards and bridal awards, then having the challenge of losing my father, clearing his estate, losing nibbles and tabby, keeping the household afloat, assisting in my husbands business and ensuring the children’s needs were adequately met. The passion for my business was gone.

2023 was a particularly challenging year both personally, emotionally and in business. I almost feel that I have to thank Boris for snapping me into my senses, and making me realise what is important and what is not.

A couple of big jobs early on this year has got 2024 off to a good start. With the reduced number of horses to maintain and a busier workload than usual, thanks to the advertising we did with Hello SA, the business is looking much more financially viable than ever before. Having less horses to maintain on a daily basis has decreased the daily workload making it much easier and far less time consuming. Bookings have increased overall, and support and excitement for a new offering, the high tea tour is wonderful. This is all good however it does bring me to a bit of a sticking point. 

I am now needing to be very mindful that I don’t overwork the Clydesdales, as I want them to continue enjoying their work and do not want to make them sour. I also have to be very aware that I don’t have a fill in, should one of them be unavailable at short notice. 

Calvin is still working, but with his age, I am very mindful of what work I will allow him to do. When the job has under four passengers he is my first choice, but most of my jobs are for larger groups meaning, a single Clydesdale, or a pair of Clydesdales is required.

I’m now in that awkward position of realising that another pair would be ideal. However, the backup pair would be putting me back into the more horses to care for situation, which means increase costs of maintenance and increased daily workload of poo picking, feeding and training. 

There is also the expense of buying a new pair. Given we are constantly being asked for a pair of greys, the logical thing to do would be to buy a pair of greys already working, and able to work in singles also, who could step in to the role within a couple of months. Obviously this doesn’t come cheap. And they are not easy to come across. 

Also throw into the mix, that we have another idea for a totally unique venture that I believe would be well supported and a totally unreal experience. However to do this requires a new cart, some infrastructure-more financial outlay.

Now, the problem with introducing a new experience is while it is a new and exciting, it realistically just takes availability away from the awesome offerings we already have, Especially if we don’t introduce new horses to the team. There are only so many days in the week, and Angus, Henry and I can only be in one place at a time. 

I could put on staff, but that’s another cost, and finding staff with the unique skill set required , is likely not going to be easy. And even then, without extra horsepower, we go back to the overworking of current horses, which I don’t want to do. 

One thing that is very high on my priority list, is to build a purpose built carriage shed, so I can store all of my carriages, without having to step over and around gearboxes and engines, which is the current challenge. My husband’s workshop occupies the same shed that half of my carriages in, so space isn’t plentiful. My new shed will also house a wash bay, to make washing at 3 am almost bearable, and an undercover area where we can harness up on hands on . It might even have a customer toilet, and office/snug area which would be very novel. 

The financial outlay for buying all of these things, is obviously also a consideration. I mean my powerball ticket the other night didn’t work, so it is very important to do a heap of pondering and investigation before investing more into new things. 

It is a really frustrating situation to be in, having so many ideas that could grow and improve the already lovely business , but knowing that an increase in infrastructure will  head us back into lack of man power territory… 

I guess the pondering shall continue….

8 Responses

  1. I feel for you – the contradictions of being successful and needing to expand! Have you considered using volunteers to help? I’m sure lots of people would like the chance – I know I would if I could! However I guess there would be insurance implications.

    1. Volunteers are definitely something I am considering. The insurance isn’t as much of a drama as I expected it would be, it’s more the scheduling and knowing how to manage it that has me a bit overwhelmed.

  2. OMG I totally understand your situation. I have increased my herd to incorporate a couple of school horses but the workload is now huge & I find after teaching cleaning up the property getting feeds ready etc I’m stuffed & no energy left to ride my beautiful boys. Ialso work full time, but I reckon if you just sit with it for a bit you may find something magical might happen. I hope it works out for you. You’re doing a great job. Cheers Cathy

    1. Isn’t it incredible how the increase in numbers means so much extra work. And how tiring it is. I’m hoping for some magic (or at least some clarity) some time soon. Take care of you, and I hope you find the energy to ride for yourself too xx

  3. Get your shed
    Years of showing ponies out of the paddock in a very cold part of Victoria I know how hard it is, years later I got my ‘shed’ and by god I wished I’d just bit the bullet and got it years earlier, it made life so much more pleasant, I even spent the night in it with a very bad colic , and thank god I had it for that as it was FREEZING 🥶
    So don’t um and ah , get it girl and make your life just a bit easier, you’ve worked hard to get where you are , do it and you’ll wonder how you did without it
    As for adding more horses , see if anyone has 2 greys you can borrow/ part use ?
    Anyway I love following your life with horses, I don’t have any now but still love them

    1. It’s the first thing on the list that’s for sure! I think I know where I want to put the new shed, its just a case of saving to make it happen!

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