In the winter, horse owning is a constant race between darkness falling and getting all your jobs done. It’s no wonder we start to look around for little shortcuts to help us out — but sometimes we remember why our grandmothers would say “more haste, less speed”…
1. You’re racing to finish mucking out before the light goes, and you decide you can pack it all into a single wheelbarrow load to save you another trip to the muckheap. As you try to manoeuvre the overloaded barrow out of the door, it upends itself all over the floor, forcing you to spend an extra 10 minutes clearing it all up. Gaah!
2. You decide you can fill all your haynets in the dark to save you time in the morning. The next day, you realise you’ve actually filled them all with your neighbour’s oat straw and you’ve got to empty them all out and start again. A variation on this one is accidentally soaking pony nuts instead of sugar beet.
3. Your horse is standing at the gate waiting to come in, and you decide to save a few seconds by looping the rope round his neck rather than putting the headcollar on properly. Your horse spooks at something crossing the dark yard and breaks into a canter with you puffing beside him like a cut price Linford Christie. You both end up back in the field and have to start again.
4. The light switch is waaay over on the far side of the barn, so you decide not to bother turning it on – quicker just to turn out in the dark, right? You catch your heel in the lead rope, performing an impromptu acrobatics routine and ending up in the water bucket, while your horse watches you with raised eyebrows and a ‘Sorry, is the circus in town?’ expression on his face. It takes you half an hour to dry off enough to go to work.
5. You decide you don’t have time to go and find your rubber gloves to pick the ice off the water trough, and do it with your bare hands instead. Your hands get so cold that you have to spend 20 minutes warming up before you can do anything else.
6. You have to bring two horses in, and decide it’ll be quicker to bring them both in at once, even though one’s a 16.2hh ex-racehorse and the other is a Shetland pony. It isn’t quicker.
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7. The morning that you try to shave a few minutes off your schedule by going to the yard in your work clothes is also the morning you need to worm your horses. You get covered in sticky, bright yellow paste that has to be practically removed with a chisel. You go home and change, and end up being late for work anyway. You give a presentation to clients, and later realise you still had a blob of wormer in your hair.
8. You hang your rugs over the stable door so they’re quicker to put in the morning, instead of putting them on the rack. During the night, your horse takes each one down, poos in the middle of it then throws it into his water bucket, sniggering. In the morning, you spend 45 minutes trying to get one clean and dry enough to wear, while muttering darkly under your breath.
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