The diary of the home-made livery yard: have you no shame, woman?

  • When I get busy at the yard with the horses, the first thing to suffer is the house work at home.

    I actually love cleaning and tidying, much as I enjoy mucking out and sweeping the yard. It’s very satisfying. I have a distinct hierarchy of priorities, however.

    First and foremost come the needs of my livery horses, closely followed (almost a tie) by their owners. In a respectable third place come my children with the inconvenience of their daily nourishment and hygiene requirements. Bringing up the rear, I might find time to feed my husband and ensure that he, too, gets a bath each night. Finally, if there is any time or energy left at the end of the day, I will happily get the hoover or Marigolds out and have a quick blitz of the carnage left at the end of a long day in the Malone household.

    Riding Chunky

    Inevitably, working with horses, you spend most of your life feeling incomprehensibly knackered and so the house usually gets to the state where a visitor might think you had been burgled and vandalised while you were out.

    I recently knew I had got to the limit of my household chores procrastination threshold when I awoke in the small hours of the morning to deal with our two year old son who still does not reliably sleep through the night. I blindly stumbled out of bed in the dark and felt the familiar and incredibly unpleasant sensation of putting my foot on a pile of exploded nappy granules. This can happen if you tread on a nappy that is wet to full capacity and it bursts violently. The feeling is akin to what I imagine it would be like to endure a foot spa in a bowl full of slug-innards. It is vile.

    Having dealt with the boy and scraped the maggot-y nappy mess off my foot, I staggered back to bed and lay down, to my surprise, on a layer of hard and uncomfortable pellets. I turned a light on to reveal that I must have fallen asleep when I had gone to ‘lie down and rest my eyes for a moment’ after putting the kids to bed that evening, fully clothed, and several handfuls of horse and pony nuts had fallen out of my pockets.

    As I lay back down without even bothering to undress or remove the horse feed from my bed, I thought to myself: ‘Have you no shame, woman?’ and in the same moment I replied to myself: ‘No. Zzzzzzzzzzzz…!’

    On the note of feeling knackered, a lovely lady who had read my blog and was in a similar situation of starting up a livery business messaged me seeking some support and advice. One of the things we spoke about was the importance of taking at least one day off a week to rest and recover and do something different away from horses.

    I recently realised that I had not been following my own advice and was getting run down. I was waking up each morning and thinking how haggard I was looking, worried that my tired, puffy face would scare small children in the school playground.

    Happily, I now have the whole of Thursdays off and it has been life-changing. I feel amazing. I’m also making sure I get to do a bit of ‘corporate’ wining and dining every now and then.

    ‘Corporate’ wining and dining with Sarah

    Although, I am afraid, I have learnt that no matter the number of excuses I can conjure up (‘It’s just that I have small children/I’ve got a cold/I didn’t sleep well last night’), I have to accept that this is just my face, now. It is the result of ageing and pushing 32 years old, not circumstances or lifestyle. Hmmmm.

    My husband, Jerome has been working really hard lately on improving the facilities at South Woolley Livery & Coaching. It is a long, on-going process, but I am delighted that we can add ‘poshest-compost-loo-ever’ and ‘hot water wash bay for horses’ to our list of conveniences.

    The interior of our posh compost loo

    The compost loo is my pride and joy and I relish cleaning it almost daily (it’s at the yard, so very high up on the priority hierarchy). I shall need to put up some simple instructions on the wall I think, as one of my liveries spent 10 minutes in there looking for the flush, the poor woman!

    The exterior of the compost loo

    Having a hot shower at the yard will prove invaluable. Mostly, I would imagine, for washing down grubby dogs and children at the end of the day. But I am sure the odd horse might get a rinse off, too.

    My little sideline in writing has taken a new turn as I was recently invited to pen the occasional product review for Premier Equine, a worldwide supplier of fabulous horse and rider clothing.

    This is incredibly exciting and something I never would have thought of as an option. But, I suppose, somebody has to write product reviews and Premier Equine said they liked my writing style (silly, sarcastic and self-deprecating? A style highly in demand by prestigious literary agents, I’m sure). So I was sent my first product to review, a ‘Sesso ladies polo riding shirt’.

    Percy enjoying our new hot water wash bay

    Now, I know we have spoken before about how I tend to walk around the yard looking like a homeless person, so this smart, professional polo shirt received quite a few compliments from liveries and lesson clients.

    It was a very easy review to write as there was so much to praise and I genuinely loved the shirt. I think the harder ones will be when there are slight criticisms to make. Still, Premier Equine has said I must be completely honest and think of myself as their mother-in-law.

    Continued below…

    I am quite sure they mean in terms of casting a critical eye over the products, not my initial interpretation based on my own experience of our relationship with my mother-in-law. In my new role as mother-in-law I was half expecting Premier Equine to turn up on my door step every few days attempting to deposit various children and dogs, borrow tools and money or expecting a full roast dinner and the favours never returned!

    I have two big bits of good news to tell you very soon, but each will take up a whole blog I think, so I shan’t leave it so long next time (well, there was no way I could compete with all those amazing Badminton blogs — well done, everyone!).

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