After waiting in for three days for my Jeep to be collected for repair we are back to an almost normal morning routine.
Each morning I accompany my wife to her stable yard with our dog, Sparky. The Memsahib goes to look after her horse. I do this to get part of my daily exercise and to exercise Sparky the dog by playing “fetch” with his ball. We started this routine during the early days of COVID, using separate cars to maintain my isolation.
Recently it has been harder to persuade Sparky to give up his ball, which has become more of a security dummy for him. He is, as he gets older (now about 11 years old) also getting more nervous. He is happy to trot along beside me with the ball in his mouth but before we can hear the first shooting in nearby woods he will take off for the security of the stable block, where he will hide in the corner. This photo’ shows him in his younger days. Nowadays, like me, he is a lot greyer around the muzzle.
First job is to ensure that Tristan (the Memsahib’s retired horse) has been fed. Normally another sharer of the yard has done this before we arrive. Next is to check his rug against the weather forecast. (Too hot, too cold, too wet…?). Then to persuade him to pick up all four feet (one at a time!) to check for a hoof infection to which he is susceptible in this wet weather. A little sideways pressure and some treats can help while I hold him in a head collar. He can be stubborn.
When that has been done I start my daily exercise. Tristan’s current paddock is just over an acre at about 4200 square metres. My job is to walk to and fro across the field seeking horse dung. Sometimes I only spot it in the thick grass just before (or after) I have stepped in it. I mark the location with an orange electric fencing post and the Memsahib uses my markers to decide the shortest route with the wheelbarrow. This walk usually amounts to around 4,000 steps of my daily target.
My other responsibility is to ensure that all three horses sharing the yard have sufficient water. In winter the troughs are fed by water pipe if not frozen. In summer or during frosty periods it involves a wheelbarrow and an 80 litre bag of water.
The Memsahib is very proud of the upkeep of the yard, including the muck-heap, which is neatly compressed into steps in the form of a low-level ziggurat by shovelling, patting down with a shovel and pedal trampling for compression.
Periodically the manure is removed by workers from the local country estate where she runs the accounting. They benefit from free manure for the organic farm and she benefits from free disposal.
Then she to the office and I to home. The whole process takes about 90 minutes at the start of the day. The Memsahib returns for a shorter visit after work.