At the age of 37 I’d hit the skids. I’d been a hugely successful Public Relations professional, representing some of the world’s most recognisable brands all around the globe and had won numerous awards for my work. I’d overcome a nasty hijacking at the age of 26 which resulted in facial reconstructive surgery. I’d travelled the world, owned an awesome apartment, drove the car of my dreams, had a wonderfully healthy bank balance and didn’t want for anything. Then, I fell into the life of addiction.
After a stint in a rehab, I continued to struggle, relapsing for several years. It was when I was at my most vulnerable that I decided to face my dragons. I was diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and early onset Type 2 Diabetes. Life looked gloomy. A counsellor suggested I get active, do some sport, focus my mind and hone my body. For once, I paid attention. It was all I could afford at the time.
I disliked gyms, couldn’t bear the notion of running, swimming or cycling. And, so the journey of self-discovery began. Who was I? What did I like and how exactly was I going to become the person I wanted to be and get off all the medication at the same time?
I started by researching my family name. Turns out that Gloy is an ancient surname that translates to Glory and Hallelujah. I liked that. After a little more digging, I found out that it derived from the BC era. A chap by the name of Eloy left Rome and migrated to Southern Germany known as Bavaria today and then eventually onto France. He was canonised to Sainthood a couple of hundred years AD as the Patron Saint of Horses. His migration also led to a slight name migration and Eloy evolved to Gloy. Horses. Hmmmm.
The lightbulb flickered on. After getting clean and staying that way, I met Natalie, owner of Buckingham Equestrian Centre. Truth be told, I knew next to nothing about horsemanship. But I experienced a yearning and instant connection with these incredibly sentient beings. Must’ve been in my blood from all those centuries ago. Natalie introduced me to my first love, Donna, an Irish Sport Horse mare who knew just how to handle me. The two of them taught me the ropes.
At the age of 41, I started horse riding. The animals seemed to ground me and be an incredible mirror of what I was feeling inside. They helped me work through my darkness, accept my demons and find my light. Its rigorous work to ride properly and anyone who thinks that the horse does all the work is in for surprise. I am drenched in sweat after every training session with Donna and Natalie. Heels down, rising trot, up and down, stretching, fetching saddles and tack, grooming horses and mucking stables aren’t for the feint hearted.
I was a natural. It became a lifestyle. Starting out was tough. But it makes me happier than any drug ever did.
Riding correctly forces you to use a different muscle set and training on horseback provides a solid low intensity work out. I lost 10 kilograms and started to hone my mind and body. At the age of 44, I started to experience terrible delayed onset muscle soreness and cramps despite my healthy eating habits and stretching regime. The diabetes also meant that I was constantly thirsty. Falling off and getting back on the horse are part of the journey too, especially when I was learning to jump properly. I realised that my body didn’t bounce back as quickly as it did several years ago. Pulled back muscles and constant aches and pains in places that I never even knew I had muscles were commonplace and I wanted to endeavour despite the soreness.
This is when a friend from the UK suggested that I invest in Totum Sport and Totum Sport Nite. It was headquartered in Ireland and after meeting and working with Donna, anything Irish seemed good to me. Although I was sceptical, the luck of the Irish prevailed. It seemed pricy and like a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but I had little to lose. I ordered a box each of Totum Sport and Totum Sport Nite sachets and started supplementing once in the morning, once just pre a two-hour training session and then I’d take a Totum Sport Nite before bedtime.
I was astounded by the instant results. Cramping gone. Muscle soreness gone. I slept more deeply and recovered from a fall, strain and sprain far more quickly. I felt more focused in the arena and out and noticed other benefits. My skin felt better. My hair felt thicker. I even felt more motivated. And I most certainly also felt calmer and more energetic at the same time. I felt younger and fitter than I had in a long time. The diabetes has entered remission. No more insulin pills. I have even managed to halve the dose of my psych meds. Life is good.
Horse riding is a high intensity sport when competing. Months of training are required for competitive eventing in an arena where you have 60 seconds to jump a course without a knocking a pole. Focus is key. Muscle control even more so. You become one with the horse.
I always say that it’s about the ABCDEs of life. Attention - be aware and mindful and realise that you cannot do this alone. B - Balance, sit firmly in your saddle, maintain body balance and subtly shift weight when needed. C is for Correction and Collection - make sure that you and your horse start on the right leg, correct where needed, plan your course and collect into a solid rhythm. D stands for Direction. Don’t look down, you’re not going that way. Look in the direction you need to go. Look over the jump while approaching it and once in the air, look at the next one. E is for execution. Learn the basics and get them right. It’s ok not to get it right every time but work towards executing the course as a team.
Forgive what needs to be forgiven. Praise always. Gratitude in everything that you do.
One knock of the pole and you’re instantly disqualified. Thanks to Natalie, Donna and Totum Sport, I’m now jumping courses and have my colourful life back. It’s not quite the same as before and I’m grateful for that. I’ve been humbled and just when I get a little too big for my riding boots, Donna throws me back into place.
Thank you, Totum Sport, for the part you’ve played in helping me be my fittest self.