Last week was pretty busy for me, and I ended up doing a few early starts so I could fit in all the horses I had to exercise before my lessons after school. Friday was a particularly early start.
I got to the yard just after six am, which is about an hour earlier than my usual early starts. The gates were still locked, and a mist of silence hung around the buildings. You can always tell when you’re early as the stabled horses are still asleep. No one whinnies in greeting, and no doors bang as they demand their breakfast. I managed to feed in near silence, and it was only after I’d fed that one of the ponies who doesn’t get breakfast suddenly neighed to me – she’d only just woken up!
I skipped out and prepped the stables for the horses coming in during the day in an autonomic state, similar to that of a sleepwalker. After all, it was early for me too! As I filled the haynets I woke one of the farm cats from his reverie, but he rolled over to carry on dreaming.
It’s strange being up and about before the rest of the world has snoozed their alarms. You make the first prints in the snow in winter, and get to see the sun paint the sky as it rises. However, at this time of year the time just after dawn is the freshest part of the day, and has a slightly eerie grey aura, as if the world is still snuggled under it’s duvet. The sun is up, but the lights are on and nobody’s at home – I guess a bit like me and the horses. Working at this time of the morning is also like wearing ear plugs. Everything seems muffled, and you have the urge to whisper and tiptoe about.
I tiptoed down to the field with my first charge, a pony who usually gallops and bucks as he is let free, but not today. He meandered off slowly, stretching and rubbing his eyes like a teenager before midday. The mare that I usually bring in (remember the efficient business woman from last week?) wasn’t waiting at the gate for me, I had to walk across the field and get her! Even on the way in we didn’t have our usual power walk, which I have to say was a relief!
Next was the turn of the part Shire and pony. The Shire clopped across the yard, louder than a peal of bells, waking the whole village, I’m sure. I hushed him, and took him to the grass as quickly as possible. Why do noises like that seem so much louder in the dense atmosphere of early morning? At their fields we had the usual problem of neither of them wanting to go in through the gate, hen they both try to, then one turns around, and then one (usually the Shire) pulls me off my feet as he spots a blade of grass. As I pull the first gate shut it clangs deafeningly. That’s the snooze alarm hit! It seemed to wake up the Shire though, as we made our way to his adjacent field quite quickly,
Once I’d brought the other horses in is started mucking out. Liveries were starting to arrive, but it’s amazing how quick you can do your jobs when you don’t gossip, or need to greet everyone as they arrive, and I had finished the yard by half seven, ready to go and feed my horses, and ride a client’s horse at 8.15.
Although it seems awful when your alarm goes off at that time in the morning I still find it peaceful and enjoyable pottering around with sleepy horses, goats, dogs, cats, and doves to keep me company. I don’t have the same feelings if I work late and everyone else has gone home and switched off for the evening, curled up in pyjamas with their hot chocolate.