• A Day in the Life of... Eland Lodge

    A standard day? Not available, like most of my farming neighbours no two days are the same although the structure and rhythm are fairly constant. As with most of us the day starts with the radio alarm, at 06:15hrs which is really far too early. I have always felt that my own personal body clock was set for a 07:30 to 08:00 wake-up time, unfortunately the requirements of the Centre and the need to get a couple of kids to school mean that Iím destined to be ever disappointed with this. So the Today Programme banishes sleep and itís into the shower and off we go!

    The mornings are lovely at this time of year, going out in the dark, the snow and ice is hard but a little bit of early morning sunshine does make all the difference. I love the Spring, the feel and the smell of it, weíve got Snowdrops a plenty at the moment, the Daffodils are well on the way and the Cherry trees wonít be that far behind, so itís all to look forward to.

    The first job is the gate, with the Livery Team due to start at 07:30 we have to have the site open and ready to receive. I take the dogs for a short run up to the gate, or rather Lupo, my son Jackís Husky, takes me for a drag, a born enthusiast and strong as a pit pony, we normally make the gate in double quick time, I really should get one of those cart things make life much more interesting. After the gate the first job is feeding, twenty-six horses, four dogs and two cats, would take a bit of doing but the Livery Team feed the barn and I take care of those outside which takes account of our own family horses. With everything fed and a brief chat with the Livery Manager, itís time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast. Veronica and I really value this ten minutes of time together to talk over the things we need to do in the day ahead, but Pete the Course Builder always comes in at this precise moment and to break the moment. ďGood morning, how are we! Where would you like me today?Ē I really should get into the habit of telling him the night beforeÖ one of these days.
    If Iím not hunting I normally ride one or two horses during the morning. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to ride almost every day. I came to riding late, it wasnít an option for a working class lad from Gateshead but I do cherish it now, if I donít ride for a day or so for whatever reason I do miss it. The business does have a nasty habit of getting in the way of my riding though, this time of year we are just coming to the end of the buying round for next year, each of our key clothing/footwear suppliers of which we have approximately twenty will take a good half day to show a full collection. After the buying, the Event season picks up and after the season we fall into Christmas mode, so thereís always something. On a good day though, Iíll ride two. For the rest of the day itís in the office or working with my team on one project or another. Weíve just finished installing a Horse Solarium in the Livery Barn which took a bit of doing, cutting the holes in the concrete floor for the cross tie posts wasnít a job I would like to repeat in a hurry but the finished job looks a treat. I have to say on a cold day itís really rather pleasant to stand under it for a couple of minutes, Iíll need to keep a very sharp eye on that one! The other job weíve just finished is the removal of the old Black Barn which stood near the Livery Barn, the big wind a few weeks ago finally put paid to it and we had to tear it down and get rid of it. Itís amazing just how much rubbish accumulates in a shed like that, it seemed to act as a kind of rubbish magnet but with a few skips and some rudimentary demolition skills down it came!

    The preparations for the first BE One Day Event have now started in earnest, so quite a lot of my time will now be committed to this. The two BE dates are the flagship events of the season for us, they show us off to a very wide range of competitors from all over the country and as such the site has to look its best. Both Peter and I will be heavily involved in the preparation, new fences have to be designed and built, the track has to be prepared and the overall site has to look its best. The Livery Team do a huge amount of preparation work here from checking the numbers to painting every jump on the track and the show jumps for good measure.

    Things generally start to quieten down after the shop closes at half-past five-ish, but there is always something else to be done. Veronica and I generally eat at around eight oíclock and itís a bit of telly before Ďlate haysí at about ten oíclock. I like to make sure everyone is nicely tucked up before I retire myself, so four nights of the week, my son Jack and I go and give all the horses an armful of hay or haylidge each before switching out the lights for the evening (Katy the Livery Yard Manager does the other three). Then it is lock the gate, back to the house and with a bit of luck straight to bed.