I have always loved being around animals. I naturally feel relaxed when I’m with them. Whether I’m feeding my horse Kiwi in his field or taking Oscar for a walk around the village, I love being with animals. When I’m driving, my biggest distraction is most likely to be a field of horses or a dog being walked and I have to remind myself to focus on the road.
For as long as I can remember, my family have had pets. Guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, then later dogs and horses as well. My animals shape my activities every single day. In my life, the animals are taken care of and after that everything else can happen. I have always been someone who is happy in my own company but even happier with animals.
I have had different pet responsibilities depending on how old I was and what animals we had to look after. When we had our first dog Caspar, he was primarily my Mum’s responsibility, she was definitely alpha dog. With our second dog Oscar, I share looking after him. Making sure he’s happy, fed, walked, entertained and when he starts shedding- groomed daily as well! From a young age I learnt discipline in doing things I agreed to do. I can remember grumbling about having to clean a guinea pig hutch on a rainy weekend when I really didn’t want to and I often feel like walking Oscar is the last thing I want to do during the winter. However, I never regret getting outside and going for a walk.
Animals provide incredible companionship; from the earliest guinea pig cuddles to training a dog and grooming horses. Every one of my pets I’ve felt close to and grown to adore. My pets are friends who make me feel better just by being there.
I must have spent hundreds of hours mucking out stables (and just sitting in them idly chatting with friends) and many hours walking dogs. I spend a lot of time taking care of my pets and I always have something to do. A horse (and it’s field) can always be cleaner. Oscar is also, always keen to go a bit further on a walk. Although sometimes this is overwhelming, it’s mostly nice to have something to do and a pet to spend time doting on.
Having animals to care for 365 days a year does bring it’s challenges. When the animals are lame, injured or just not well I get very anxious.
Going away is complicated. A night or day is easy enough but when we go on holiday and I have to leave them in someones care I make extensive lists about what each animal will need whilst I’m away. The days before a holiday are always the worst for me. If I’m organised, I enjoy packing but the thought of leaving the animals is a big worry. Looking after the animals in the winter can be grim. By February I’m fed up of the long cold days and I yearn for more time and sunshine. I’m very sensitive to the cold so from December onwards I start wearing more and more layers of clothing whenever I go to feed Kiwi or walk Oscar. By the end of March I will be wearing a hat, scarf, gloves, jumper, coat, two layers of trousers, socks and wellies each time I step outside.
Occasionally Kiwi gets an abscess or bruise in a foot. He goes hopping lame and needs a warm poultice every day for at least a week. Bandages are expensive because you need one for each poultice. I’m reminded when I go to stock up my first aid kit after a week of bandaging. Any vet treatment is expensive, and it’s something I’m always aware of. My savings are an ‘in case of emergency’ supply for Kiwi.
Every day revolves around my animals and has done for as long as I can remember. I like the animal lifestyle and I wouldn’t change it. Saying that, I think one horse at a time is enough for me. Especially given that Kiwi alone produces a barrow of muck a day that needs to be picked up come rain, wind or shine.