The diary of the homemade livery yard: The thought of my son chewing on Percy’s bum sponge made my stomach churn

  • One of the greatest attractions of running your own yard is the chance to be your own boss. Having the freedom to do things the way you always wanted and being able to organise your own time and activities are all part of the allure of yard ownership. However, nothing will make you feel less like the ‘big boss’ and more like a naughty school girl than turning up for work with a shocking hangover.

    As a general rule, not a lot will get in the way of my conviction to conduct our livery business in a professional and capable manner (please stop laughing now, those people who know me). So it must have been a significant aftermath that completely floored me following a night in with the girls and a bottle of red wine (each, it could possibly have been a bottle each). I am a great believer in a spot of mucking out and a couple of brisk trips to the field to blow away the cobwebs and cure most evils. But the morning after my horsey friends, Carly and Kirsty, came round I really was in no state to be upright, let alone in charge.

    Somehow (probably still inebriated), I managed to wake up, feed, groom and turn out the livery horses with a throbbing head and a very queasy stomach.

    With the horses’ immediate needs taken care of, halfway through mucking out the first stable I elegantly threw up in the hedge behind the barn. Shortly after this one of my lovely part livery ladies, Tania, arrived. I managed to project some sort of image of sobriety and hold a passable conversation as we turned the last pair of horses out together. However, the climb back up the hill from the fields left me unable to keep up the pretence any longer and I confessed my sins to Tania before staggering over to lie down on a bench, making myself a little nest out of stable rugs to hibernate in.

    At this point Carly and Kirsty, my partners in crime from the night before, arrived. Never in my life have I ever been so pleased to see anyone. They are horsey, they have youth on their side (almost a decade younger than me), they are looking a hell of a lot better than I feel and they know how to handle a shavings fork. I gave them a sorrowful look, discreetly mimed the act of vomiting in the shrubbery and they offered to finish off the stables for me. Hallelujah!

    I curled up in my stable rug nest, occasionally mumbling gracious thanks to my knights in shining armour and ashamed apologies to Tania (who I hope saw the funny side). I must be getting old now, as I regard hangovers with much less pride and far more remorse than I used to.

    I knew that Jerome and the kids were going to arrive any minute and we had building deadlines to meet. I could hardly bear it. My head couldn’t handle the thought of the chastisement I was going to get from my husband for being in no fit state to work and my stomach was churning at the thought of watching my son, Jasper, chewing on Percy’s bum sponge, his favourite mid-morning snack.

    Our celebratory selfie

    Our celebratory selfie

    Carly made me a cup of tea and I managed to eat half of a salty crisp, both of which started to stir a little life in me. Suddenly, I sat bolt upright, and with a deranged look in my eye, babbled something incoherent. When asked to repeat it, I told Kirsty that I had just remembered I had sent a sample blog to Horse & Hound, a ridiculous idea, on the off chance that they might like to publish it. I joked that I should check my emails just in case I was in demand as a blogger, not really expecting anyone at H&H to have even read it yet.

    Lo and behold, there was an email from the H&H team and I steeled myself for the “Thanks, but no thanks” reply. I was gob-smacked to find that they did indeed want me to join the blogging team! I sprang up from my nest, like I had risen from the dead and started dancing around with sheer joy and excitement. I demanded that we immediately take a celebratory selfie and cavorted off down the aisle of the stables giggling to myself with glee.

    I managed my day on the dumper truck, digging arena drainage ditches with Jerome. With the correct ratio of junk food to caffeinated fizzy drinks, I was a new woman by the afternoon.

    Continued below…

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    So, what lessons have I learnt?

    1. The power of the mind should never be underestimated. Even when the body is in a state of emergency. I went from mild alcohol poisoning and being unable to support my own head, to bouncing off the walls on receipt of some good news and a positive mindset change. Useful to remember for my upcoming marathon.

    2. We are not alone. In times of trouble I have a great network of horsey friends who will help me out.

    3. “I am never drinking again!” she says, knocking back the dregs of the last glass of Pinot Grigio. Well, I do think it helps me blog better. Hmmm, I might need to ask H&H for an expenses account?


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