Media Sensation, Grace Olson, Exposes Livery Yard Life. Exclusive!

Well, at the time of writing it was exclusive. Now, Grace Olson is EVERYWHERE!

Ellie: So Grace, there you were.  Upon a 16.2hh Sports Horse that you thought was going to be a 15hh Cob.  You have just witnessed the owner’s niece being carted uncontrollably around the arena. You have an audience of strangers, and you are convinced you are a crap rider.  Yet you managed to quash your fear, override your instinct to panic, and like a true zen master took a deep breath and calmed yourself.  

How on earth did you manage that?  We want details so we can do it too.

Grace: I’ve been mulling over this question for some time because it was such a bizarre experience. I can only say that in that moment of extreme fear, my personality centre in the brain shut down and the wise, fearless subconscious centre became dominant. I’ve been reading about brain science and we all have a portion of the brain that knows everything and is very calm. So I believe that took over at that moment – thank God.😆

Ellie: Assuming I also have one, how would I tap into my “wise centre”?  Is this something I could learn quickly or do I need to do a course?

Grace: The ‘wise’ centre is your best self! It’s always there. Some people can quiet the chatter in their brain and allow the experience of wisdom to happen easily. But most of us need to accept it will take time and daily practise to catch a glimpse.

Ellie: Would you consider writing a step-by-step guide for publication?

Grace: I’d love to write a step-by-step guide because I use various methods of tapping into the “wise centre” in my work with terminally ill people. It helps them to feel calmer during their medical treatments.

Ellie: I would definitely buy that book. I am a huge fan of everything Self Improvement.

The characters in The Yard are bonkers.  One of them appears to be completely off-the-chart deranged.  There is the opera singing, PJ wearing Veronica who rides her horse to the supermarket.  Sally seems to have developed a martial art from the film Flash Dance as a way to defend herself and others from the felonious Fell ponies owned by the rather useless Brenda. And then there is the one I am sure all readers are going to love to hate “I’m Louise.  I do dressage”.  And many more brilliantly written personas just waiting to be read. 

I have to assume they are based on real people.  Are they?  

Grace: Hahaa! The characters! Yes, they are all wonderfully real people. Veronica is actually slightly toned down for the book because she was much more extreme and a bit too unbelievable! Sally is still a lovely and special friend. She is hilarious and inspiring. The thing that amazed me the most was that Louise read my online episodes and ‘liked’ them! So I can only assume she doesn’t recognise herself at all or she has a depth of humility I never saw.

Ellie: So I gather you did not use their real names for the characters?

Grace: The only real name in the book is mine! 

Ellie: And do they all know they star in your book?

Grace: Most of them know they are in the book and they have enjoyed reading it. Thank goodness!

Ellie: Do you envision any protracted court cases for defamation of character?😋

Grace: Yikes court cases! I did actually worry about that but the one person who I feared offending the most actually died. She features in the book though, not the online episodes. She was such a character I couldn’t not include her and really she is the superstar of the whole thing in my eyes. 

Ellie: I notice on your website your episodes are copy-righted 2020.  Sort of a chicken/egg question: What came first?  The website or the book?

Grace: The website came first. I started writing during lockdown because I couldn’t work but wanted to do something to cheer people up. So the episodes were released weekly on Facebook and on my website. Then I thought, “why not write a book.” So I did! I am still in shock that I have completed such a thing and that it’s actually being published very soon! By the way, when people go to my website they’ll find 10 free episodes plus 10 more when they sign up.

Ellie: Do you have a publication date yet?

Grace: The publishing company is aiming for the last week of June but if I am lucky it could be done sooner. 

Ellie: Over the years I have seen many techniques designed to make filling haynets easier.  My favourites are to put the net into a big dustbin and fold the net opening over the bin lip.  Or using 2 dining chairs pushed together and hooking the net over the backs. Describe your first-ever attempt (aged 35) of filling a haynet.

Grace:  Oh my Godddd haynets! I hate filling them! It was so embarrassing to admit I had never done it or even seen it done. I am ashamed to say that I spent quite a lot of time trying to keep the damn thing open while I grasped at the tightly packed bale of hay – not realizing that I should have cut the baler twine…

Ellie: 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣

I adore the fact that you and Jack (whilst mounted) hid in a bus terminus so as to stalk the oblivious (and also mounted), Veronica, to the shopping centre. 

Grace: Hahaa! The bus terminus! I was actually nearly sick from fear when we went into there. I thought I was going to end up dead!

Ellie: How often did she do her shopping with her horse? 

Grace: Veronica went to various busy shopping places once or twice a week on her horse. She’s lucky that it was never stolen because she went to some rough areas and just left her outside shops!

Ellie: I have to admit that I do kind of identify with the Veronica character a teeny-tiny bit.

You must have all felt so embarrassed when the horses proceeded to gobble up the exhibits at the village Flower Festival. Malcy’s mouthfuls of roses made me think of my shetland pony when he ate all my neighbour’s rose bushes.  Was there ever any backlash from that?

Grace:  Oh my God the flower festival was mortifying! We still laugh about that! It was so weird that the horses ruined the day for these people but nobody did anything much about it apart from giving us a mild telling-off! Even the Lord Mayor said nothing – he just glowered at us! I would have gone mad if that was my flower show and a group of riders ruined it for the whole village! And nobody said anything the next time we rode through the village either – weird.

Ellie: I agree. Weird. But a fine example of middle-class politeness in action.

Even though you felt over-horsed, the book shows you to have a natural instinct to do what is right for Poppy even though you were really scared of her.  As your coach wisely said, “Nobody is experienced until they have had the experience.” How do you feel now about your ability with handling horses that are a handful?

Grace: This is a great question and very well timed because I have a new rescue mare who has had a horrible life. She was very feisty and bitey when she first arrived. She can rear and kick out too. My experience with Poppy definitely has changed me because I have been very calm and relaxed with this new horse and a year on, she is now relaxing too and we have a wonderful connection! 

Ellie: That is so amazing.

I love your minimalistic attitude to Poppy’s tack in the book.  I ride all my horses in bitless bridles.  As of March this year I even ride my mahooosive stallion bitless again. I convinced him bitless was the way to go about 20 minutes after he arrived at my house. But everyone else was aghast. He is a stallion! Control! Tame the beast! Pitchfork!!!!

I am ashamed to admit I let strangers make decisions about my relationship with my horse. Three years later I realise I made a massive mistake. Yes, he is a big boy. And yes, he has testicles. But he is the sweetest soul you will ever meet.

Therefore, I was very interested in reading about your experiences of changing Poppy’s bitted bridle for a Dr Cook one. Enter Marjorie and her mad menagerie in the middle of a magical nowhere.  I get the feeling your weekend in Wales with Marjorie and Julie was your Poppy Epiphany.  Would you say that was true?

Grace:  Yes definitely! It was as if all my beliefs were removed and reality was put in its place. In the book, there is a lot more detail about the healing experience that I had with the horses. I am hoping that readers will benefit from all of that too. Julie was a remarkable teacher and she is finally writing a book about her methods hurrah! 

Ellie: Is their riding school still running?  I would love to go there.  Marjorie and Julie seem right up my street. I look forward to reading Julie’s book when it comes out.

Grace: Sadly the Welsh riding school is currently closed due to Marjorie’s personal issues and they no longer sell the Dr Cook bridles. Hopefully, Julie will be setting something up eventually though. So I will let you know if and when she does!

Ellie: Yes, please. That would be wonderful.

There is a lot of humour in your teaser chapters on the website.  But from our conversations I know the book is deeper and possibly with a darker (?) side to it.  Would you like to touch on that a bit here? 

Grace: Yes, the book had to have a purpose deeper than just the amusing horsey people. The thing that led me back to horses was my need to heal my heart. I had postnatal depression and it was through my interaction with the various horses that I finally became a confident mum and happy in my life. 

Ellie: It really was wonderful ‘watching’ the connection between you and Poppy grow.  Would it be a ‘spoiler’ to ask if she is still your horse? Please will you tell us a little more about her as she is now?  What have you both been up to? 

Grace: Ah the wonderful Poppy! My heart bursts with pride when I think about her! She is nearly 14 and has finally become the type of horse that you can actually enjoy hacking alone on. It’s taken 10 years to get to this stage! She is like a trekking pony now and we use her as a nanny for nervous horses. It’s so bizarre to see her in this role! She has looked after friends’ horses so well and now she is helping my new mare learn all about life on the roads too. She’s amazing! So calm and relaxed under all circumstances as if she doesn’t care about anything.

I forgot to tell you the most important thing that Pops does now! She helps with my work. I do massage/ healing/ coaching with terminally ill people and sometimes we go into the field to just ‘be’ with nature. One time I took a lady who had liver cancer. Pops walked up to her and put her nose on her liver area. It was so bizarre like she knew. She just stood quietly like that for some time. ♥️

Ellie: You are right.  That is the most important thing that Pops does now. That is brilliant!  And leads me to ask another question. The profits from the sales of The Yard will go towards a farm-based therapy centre for the terminally ill.  Please tell us more about the centre. Where is it based? What sorts of therapy animals are there and what do they do?  Do the patients live there too? Ok. So that was more than one question.

Grace: The centre is in North Leeds and it’s currently a simple field surrounded by beautiful farmland. It is a very peaceful spot. Very wild and natural. I have 3 horses and lots of wild birds visit too – Red Kites, pheasants, owls.

I treat people in one-to-one sessions so it’s totally private and it’s ‘their’ thing. I go with what they need on the day. They don’t live there they just visit for their sessions.

The beauty of the place is it’s so natural. People get to be close to raw nature and that’s what leads them inwards to their real self beyond the limits of personality and mind.

Ellie: Ruth Buchanan is a phenomenal artist.  How did she come to paint those wonderful paintings of you and Poppy?  Were the other paintings created just for your book too?

Grace: Ruth is incredible isn’t she? She took some photos as a reference and here is the money shot!

The other illustrations were from her collection but she allowed me to use them which was amazingly kind.

Ellie: The Yard reached the finals of The Page Turner Awards.  That is so cool!  You must be chuffed to bits.  Tell us a little about the process. What advice could you give me if I wanted to submit a book too?

Grace: The Page Turner Awards was so fun! I submitted my first 3 chapters and was astounded to reach the finals. I was so shocked! The competition was tough! I recommend the competition to anyone wanting to get their work noticed. All you have to do is make sure your first 3 chapters are as good as they can get and then take the plunge!

Ellie: Will there be a sequel to The Yard?

Grace: Yes. There will be a sequel.

Ellie: Nice one! I can’t wait.

I do have another question to ask.  It is a sort of advertising question for this blog.  I wrote an article that went a bit bonkers on social media –  I wondered if you could read it and then tell me which side of your mouth you naturally click out of.  I know it sounds daft. 

If you are up for it I will send you a mug with your CLICK status on it.  When you receive it please will you take a photo of yourself with the mug and send it back to me?  So far, I have the author of another book who has done this and a rider who won a race on a fun day at Pompadour.  I thought if I could get some advertising in place then I could sell the mugs and the profits could go to help the horses in Ukraine. 

Grace: Hahaaa! I read that article it made me laugh! It was funny reading everyone’s responses! I click out of the left side of my mouth. And yes I will definitely do a photo! What a wonderful idea for fundraising for such a cause – it’s so shocking, isn’t it?

True to her word, Grace sent me a picture of herself with the mug

Ellie: Thank you so much for doing this interview, Grace. I seriously appreciate you taking the time. I look forward to reading more of your work. I would like to finish up with one last question. Can we see your favourite photo of you and Pops?

Grace: Here is my favourite photo of me and P

There you have it, folks. The Yard – How A Horse Healed My Heart, by Grace Olson is out now and leaping from the bookshelves at an alarming rate. Get your copy here!!

And I have it on good authority that The Yard is also going to be a TV series. Wow.

12 thoughts on “Media Sensation, Grace Olson, Exposes Livery Yard Life. Exclusive!”

  1. Amazing insight into the life of Grace and Poppy.
    I’m going to the stables tomorrow to see which side I click on

  2. I have loved reading the chapters of your book so far and I’m really looking forward to reading the full book, the sequel and seeing how your centre develops. You really have a talent for connecting with people and using horses for healing.

  3. Love how Grace talks about her ‘wise, fearless subconscious’ which takes over on her healing journey with her horse .. and the adventures, laughs and truths unveiled along the way. What a brilliant first novel!

  4. Grace has a wonderful way of writing that draws you into the story as though you are there! I can’t wait to read the whole book (and the sequel!)

  5. I’ve been following The Yard on social media, it was really something to look forward to during lockdown and beyond. I love Grace’s style of writing and cannot wait to purchase the book as soon as it comes out!

  6. Absolutely loved the chapters already shared and cannot wait to buy the book! It’s just so true to life! Everyone who has ever been on a livery yard will have met each of the characters who Grace portrays brilliantly. A must read for all horsey ladies and for such a wonderful cause too.

  7. Even if you’re not a ‘horsey’, you can still relate to the stories, the lovely characters Grace so cleverly bring to life. Relate to the atmosphere and the subtle communication between them, and enjoy the articulation, sometimes implied, of their needs and secrete desires. Grace, you are a wonderful person and a dear friend. Thank you for letting us have a glimps of live through your eyes. It’s rather fantastic. I’m thrilled to now learn there’s going to be a sequel! What you are doing for the terminally I’ll, is priceless. Tons of love ❤.

  8. Grace has an amazing way of writing. I feel like I know all the characters!!
    Even if you are not a ‘horsey person’ you can still relate to the story, Grace brings the characters to life. You are a wonderful person Grace and a very dear friend. Your lovely Mum would be so proud of you!!!Thank you for sharing some of the story with us. I am so excited to read the book, I have now learnt there is going to be a sequel! I can’t wait!
    Grace you are a inspiration!!! You have a such a wonderful heart inside and out.
    No stopping you now!!!
    Good luck (not that you need it!)
    Tracey

  9. I’m Alec, the 78 year old wanting to be a rider again. I’ve been following Grace from her early facebook days, and realising that we had similar experiences. I starting at 60 knowing nothing on an 18hh ex Foxhunter qualified mare not ridden for 12 years, and in a Dr. Cook bridle.
    I tried to encourage Grace in the times she washing doubts about ever getting published. Though we have never met, I have also tried to bring her down to earth with some my messages when everything was suddenly going her way. Just the experience of a geriatric.

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