Alison Goulding: ‘The seeds of malice’

Happiness can be found in most wheelbarrows...sort of

Happiness can be found in most wheelbarrows...sort of

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IT was pitch black on Tuesday morning and the 85mph winds delivered a dose of rain directly into my eyes with force.

Because of this I couldn’t see much, but in my right hand I could feel the protesting weight of a large horse trying to reverse.

My mission was to get Harvey the horse into the field and his was to persuade me that this was a terrible idea.

I couldn’t blame him. All of his mates were still tucked in their stables eating breakfast and exuding relief that it wasn’t them getting dragged outside to stand ankle-deep in claggy clay mud.

I went out with a guy once who said his formative years were spent going on long, cold, rainy walks wearing shorts while his mother led the way shouting messages about health and vitality.

If he or his brothers dared complain the refrain was always: “What’s the matter with you? Your skin’s waterproof.”

At the time I thought this a cruel tale (though I still laughed – come on, it is quite funny), but now I am the equivalent of that mother.

My reasoning is that my horses still get their breakfast hours before I do and if I have to be outside, then so do they.

“Fresh air won’t hurt you” and “Don’t be a wimp” are some of the phrases I like to shoot at them through gritted teeth while they regard me with suspicion and the seeds of malice.

Wrestling with them at this time of year is a double blow.

The holidays are over, fun is cancelled and yet there’s still that tantalising residue left by lovely presents and any surviving cake and mince pies.

This is the problem with good times – they inevitably come to an end.

But this year my horses are proving to be both curse and cure.

They don’t care about things like holidays, or notice that there’s no money left in the bank – they have the same craic every day.

Good day at work? Still plenty of poo to shovel. Bad day? You guessed it, they’re still producing the stuff like it’s going out of fashion.

They’re always hungry, they’re always getting into scrapes and they always need mud removing from somewhere.

Cady needs the scratchy bit on her neck scratched and Harvey needs to check my pockets for carrots. Every, single day.

And it’s this boring, drudgy, Groundhog day routine that gives me such a peverse sense of pleasure.

A life of luxury just would not suit me.

Too many lie-ins and mink coats would go right to my head and I’d end up like a grown-up version of Verucca Salt, stamping my feet and demanding things.

While wrestling with wheelbarrows and that agonising moment when your welly dissapears into a muddy sink-hole keeps me good as gold for some reason.

And nothing improves your sense of humour more than being stood on by a ton weight, braving the UK micro climates and capsizing straw all over the yard you’ve spent 30 minutes sweeping.

Who knew happiness could be found in abject misery? Me, it seems.