We recently celebrated one year since the opening of our yard, South Woolley Livery & Coaching — 365 days since I sprinted across the fields, upon spotting Tina Ford arriving down the drive, a little earlier than expected, to find that Percy had already unloaded and settled into his stable as if he’d lived there all his life.
We threw a bit of a party to mark the occasion. Once I had got over my bitter anguish at not being able to drink much (and decided ‘the baby’ definitely wanted a couple of glasses of Prosecco anyway), it was a fantastic night (pictured top the morning after the night before!). Friends, family, liveries, neighbours and lesson clients all came along to help us raise a glass and honour the fact that, well… we had all survived! We are all still living and breathing — horses, clients, myself and (somewhat miraculously) the kids. My husband, Jerome, is yet to divorce me. A successful year, I would say.
An awful lot has happened in our first year. We filled the stables with horses, despite my underlying fears that there just might not be any liveries to find in the no-man’s land of the Cornwall/Devon border. We built a 60x20m outdoor arena, started a Horse & Hound blog and achieved BHS approved livery yard status. I got an exciting sponsorship offer in the form of a riding hat from Gatehouse, wrote my first product review for Premier Equine, got out to some competitions and (all going well) created a third Malone human being.
You may have noticed in previous blogs I have sometimes mysteriously referred to ‘another big project’ we have had on the go during the past year. Well, we have been working very hard on a second planning application. All the hard work and has effort paid off as we now have planning permission to live on site at South Woolley!
Another building project. Another big one. But this time somebody was clever enough to be far too ‘delicate’ to help…? As such, Jerome and our good friend, Tim, have started work on our proposed timber framed, wooden clad, four bedroom temporary dwelling.
It has been such a treat to crack on with the horses, knowing that things are constantly happening with the build without me having to be any part of it. I had thought at one point that perhaps I was being a little bit useless and hypochondriac about my pregnancy. But one morning of helping to hold up OSB boards in awkward positions in the heat wave put my mind at ease that, no, I really couldn’t build a house on top of the daily yard work in my ‘condition’.
I now stick to fetching the boys lunch, taking photos of all their hard work and occasionally being called in to help make an executive decision (“I don’t know, dear. Whatever is quickest, easiest and cheapest?”)
Once again, we have had incredible and unwavering support from our lovely neighbours in Woolley throughout the planning process. Although, seeing as we are by far the messiest and noisiest family in our otherwise immaculate little village, I am surprised our neighbours did not write our planning application on our behalf and insist on building us a house themselves, in order to get us out of the way a bit quicker.
I now have five weeks of this pregnancy left to go. I must say it really has flown by. With two kids and six horses to keep me busy, there is little time for pondering every day that goes by. I just about have a grip on what trimester I’m in!
I have an awesome maternity cover A-team organised for deployment two weeks before my due date. In the meantime, I have been running the yard myself.
I am not riding, but continue to coach and no one has suffered the effects of this more than Chunky’s owner, Jo, and my daughter, Ellie. Me not being able to ride, like an unashamedly pushy parent, I am living through them and both have been encouraged hard (but obviously responsibly and safely — I am a professional, don’t you know!) to achieve their riding goals.
Ellie has accomplished her cantering and jumping 40cm goals (if my blood pressure goes up at the end of this pregnancy, I will know exactly why) with Spice.
And, inspirationally, Jo has learnt to canter and jump at the age of 52 with Chunky, who has only just learnt how to canter and jump himself! I know Jo, for one, can’t wait for me to get back on a horse and off of her back.
I’ve certainly enjoyed this pregnancy the most, so far, of the three. The first I was young and missing out on early twenties’ fun and the second I went into quite unhealthy from the IVF. This time around I am happy, healthy and an old pro at the whole business. Being my own boss and the freedom that comes with that has certainly helped, too. If I want to sit down on a bag of shavings and eat cake for half an hour, then I can.
There are some small signs that stress may have crept in at times, however. Our puppy, Wiggles, continues to destroy most things within sight and reach. One day I got into the car with my two year old son, Jasper, and we saw that Wiggles had shredded yet another packet of nappies all over the seats. Jasper gave me a knowing look as if to say, “Don’t worry, mum, I’ve got this one.”
Then he rolled his eyes, looked at Wiggles and exclaimed: “Bwuddy ell, dog!” And after a quick glance at me, seeking confirmation that he was doing this right: “You leedl sheet, Wiggles!”
Um, yes. I cleared my throat loudly and quickly changed the subject to what we might have for lunch.
Pregnant or not, the school run in the mornings will always be stressful for any parent. I had already been pondering how cruel it was for hay fever to coincide with pregnancy bladder (constant sneezing while pregnant necessitates the pelvic floor control of an Olympic athlete), when hay fever embarrassed me in another delightful fashion.
I’d done the morning feeds in a hurry on the way to school because we spent an unscheduled 10 minutes looking for school shoes YET AGAIN. It wasn’t until I’d got Ellie safely through the school gates (just in time) and got back into the car with Jasper, past all the other parents, that I saw that I had a ring of white powder around one of my nostrils. Evidently I had got some of Tom’s magnesium calmer supplement on my hands and had rubbed my nose at some point on the way to school.
And now all the other parents and teachers think I am a drug addict. Brilliant.