Magic Millions is a horse sales that happens every year at the Gold Coast. They sell racefillies, mares, stallions as well as weanlings and yearling thoroughbreds. When I came to Australia I worked at a thoroughbred stud yard and did the 3 months yearling preparation for the sales in January 2019. At the time my anxiety was pretty bad and I told my boss that I would be more comfortable staying at the yard than going to the sales which was absolutely fine with her but I was partly disappointed in myself.
During the prep you have your own yearlings to look after so over 3 months you do create a bond with them and I was absolutely gutted I wasn’t going to be there with them at the sales but I knew that if I went I would risk knocking myself back 20 steps and at the end of the day my mental health is way more important to me. The sales work is very full on. Non stop for 12-5 hours a day. Long days and hard work. When life gets busy I sometimes lose control of my anxiety. When I am in busy situations whether it be just a large group of people or working I get a fog in my head and things sometimes can turn into a blur but the thing that terrified me the most was the parades. We did parades whilst I was working and I wasn’t a fan. I know that the clients were looking at the horse but when you are stood/walking right next to the horse you can’t help but feel all eyes are on you. When the bidding at the sales start each horse is taking individually through the sales ring which is this elevated platform in this indoor auction room. You have the auctioneer and his staff surrounding the ring and down below are all the bidders. The sales are live streamed across YouTube, Facebook and the Magic Millions website as well. The thought of being up there terrified me. Literally.
Back in October a girl came to my work for a few weeks and we became friends. She has a stud down in South Australia and asked me if I would want to work the weanling sales for her in May. I said yeah of course. My anxiety wasn’t bad at this point and I knew I would’ve finished work by then and could be looking for ways of earning money.
When I decided not to go to the January sales I contemplated not going to the weanling sales. I almost nearly messaged my friend to say I couldn’t do them but I never got round to it and eventually it became too late to message her so the next thing I was in the Gold Coast starting the weanling sales!
I’m glad I went to the weanling sales, it made me realise that I made the right choice back in January because it really is hard work. The team was great but it was a big team for my anxiety. I don’t do well in groups. I become the ‘quiet one’ and sorta fade into the back ground. My social anxiety was more of an issue than I thought it would be. I became so drained and exhausted from work and over socialising and even when I went to my bedroom early I would sometimes get questions from the team asking why which made me paranoid as hell. I didn’t want to be seen as the boring, moody or quiet one because I’m not. My brain and body had just had enough and I can’t help that. In this sense I feel like we still have a long way to go in accepting mental health and self care. It’s okay for someone to switch off and take themselves off to bed at 7:00pm if they want to. Let them feel comfortable putting themselves first for God’s sake.
My friend asked me if I wanted to take one through the ring and I said no. I wasn’t ready. Even when we were getting the weanlings ready to go through the ring I couldn feel my anxiety starting and I wasn’t even taking to bloody things through! I wasn’t ready.
One of the team members asked me if I wanted to work the mare sales afterwards as they were short on staff. I told her I could only do a few days as I needed to go to Melbourne to attend my Canadian visa meeting (currently in the process for applying for a visa for Canada). I was pretty nervous but I was working with 2 girls who I got on with really well at the weanling sales and they reassured me that I would be fine. So after 6 days of working at the weanling sales I did 4 days working at the mares.
I have missed being around mature horses. Having working with weanlings and yearlings being around mature horses felt great. I had confidence in myself. I have more faith in mature horses. There were 24 mares and 4 members of staff which creates a hell of a lot of work. Like a lot but I kinda liked it. There was one day where we did 317 parades. That is a lot! The days were non stop and the team was small. I could cope and I was coping pretty well. There wasn’t enough time for me to think about my anxiety or act upon it and with a small team I could show my work ethic more. It was easier for me to prove I am a hard worker and I could do the work because I didn’t have any big personalities there to hide behind.
The thought of taking a mare into the sales ring crossed my mind a few times. I knew I would be there for the first day of the auctions and I knew one of my favourite mares is being sold that day but as soon as I thought about going into that ring I became anxious which put me off the idea. I was very undecided. Do I stay in my comfort zone and risk regrets? Or do I push myself, possibly risk having a panic attack but being able to say I finally did it?
Yesterday was the start of the auctions and we had 3 mares to go through. One of them was a favourite of mine called Dainty Tess. Maiden mare (means she hasn’t had a foal before) and such a sweetheart. We had a mare to sell before Dainty Tess which the girls asked if I wanted to take her through. I said no but I said I will see how I am feeling later and I might take Dainty Tess through.
Later arrived and I had to make a decision. I was going for it. I was almost shitting myself but I knew, I just knew that I would regret not taking this opportunity. It was my last day of the sales, I was working with mares who I am waaaaayyyy more comfortable and confident around and I had the chance to take a mare through who I had a soft spot for. There were too many positives and the only negative was my anxiety and it would have been stupid to bow down to it.
The team were getting Dainty Tess ready for me as I stood with her and I honestly couldn’t have asked for better reassurance. They had so much faith in me and it made me feel so much better. They called out 827 (Dainty Tess’s number) and told us to go to the parade ring. It was time!!! I just completely zoned out. We walked down the back of all the stables, along the front of the car park and into the parade ring. In the parade ring was one of the guys I worked with at Widden which did help me feel a bit better. I had one of the girls following me down with a spare lead in case things went wrong and one leading the next horse so I wasn’t alone. We walked around the parade ring a few times and I couldn’t have asked for a better behaved horse. She was an angel.
We lined up to get ready for going into the sales ring and she started getting a bit agitated but nothing I couldn’t handle. I looked at my team mate and said “holy shit”, she simply replied “You’ll be fine”. Then it was time, we walked up the ramp and we were in the parade ring. I had completely switched off and I was just focused on walking the horse around. I didn’t dare look out into the crowd. Bidding started at $100,000 and after several laps Dainty Tess was sold for $300,000 and she was a angel in the ring! We walked down the ramp and back to the stables. I had done it! I had taken a horse through the sales ring. Something that made me back out of my first sales opportunity, something that I refused on my second sales opportunity but now something I have done!
I got back into the stables and gave Dainty Tess a huge hug and a thank you. Couldn’t have asked for a better horse to help me along the way. I had a little cry and the team, family and friends were all so proud of me. They knew what a big thing this was for me to do and it made it all a bit more emotional.
Yesterday was a huge day for me and I have to thank the team, my boss (past and present) for getting to this point. It’s been one hell of a journey which led to one big self achievement for me. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way!
My time in the Gold Coast has been great. Enjoyed every moment of it and happy I have spent the past couple of weeks here. It’s a place that has created fond memories and great achievements.
Sending my love,