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Manic Monday – A Life in the Day of an Eventing Vet

Time and time again when people find out that I’m a full-time vet with two horses on DIY livery their first question is ‘how on earth do you fit it all in?’. In fact sometimes I have to ask myself just that! I surprised myself when I sat down to write this as I hadn’t previously realised just where all my time went to. So here, for the record, is an average weekday. Or in the immortal words of The Bangles (Google them, kids): ‘Just Another Manic Monday’.

5.40am – Alarm goes off and autopilot kicks in. I down a large mug of tea and let the dogs out whilst trying to work out which day/week/month/year it is, who I am and where I am. I make a concerted effort to get all my clothes on the right way round and in the right order and hope there hasn’t been a frost overnight, as I haven’t allowed for time to de-ice the car.

An early morning lunging session.

An early morning lunging session.

6.00am – Arrive at yard to the welcoming sounds of horses who think they’ve been starved overnight and are desperate for breakfast. I disappoint the horse I’m breaking-in, who has to be lunged/long-reined before he gets fed, and boy does he look grumpy about it. I work him, chuck both horses in the field and muck out. The nature of my job means that I never know exactly where I will be and when, so I make sure I leave everything ready for the horses to come in later. If things don’t go to plan I may either have about 2mins flat to grab them, or have to ring a friend and promise her wine in return for getting dragged through the mud by two rude bulldozers desperate to get out of the elements and back to their cosy stables. Luckily that doesn’t happen too often or my alcohol bill could get extortionate.

7.45am – back home to breakfast, change and pick up the dogs. Luckily in my line of work it is acceptable, and probably expected, that I smell of horses so a quick change and liberal application of deodorant does the trick. Or at least I think it does. My colleague who shares my office doesn’t complain too often.

8.15am – at my desk at work checking through my emails for lab results. The phones don’t start ringing until 8.30am so I have 15mins of peace first. I am dying for another mug of tea, but daren’t as I know I’ll be in the car all morning with no access to a loo! I might phone a client or two and get directions for anywhere I haven’t been before. My colleague and I often have an impromptu meeting to discuss cases and share out the visits for the day. Once the phones start ringing it’s chaos so it’s time to get out in the car and leg it!

Promo pic - L dentistry9am-12.30pm – the morning is usually made up of fairly routine visits: vaccinations, blood tests, x-rays and dentistry. Sod’s Law means there is almost always exactly one more visit to fit in than there is actually time for. Usually I have to shoot back to the surgery at some point to restock drugs or equipment or package up some blood samples for the post. I try to run in and out as quickly as possible so that the reception staff don’t collar me. Each ‘could you just do this before you go out again, it’ll only take two seconds’ inevitably makes you at least 10mins late for the next client!

12.30-1.30pm – if everything goes to plan and I schedule it just right I should manage to have a lunch hour. Otherwise it’s a petrol station sandwich whilst driving. Let’s pretend this is one of the days in a blue moon where I actually stop for lunch. I shoot home, chuck the dogs in the garden, make a sandwich, sit on the sofa to eat it and wake up twenty minutes later to find  a bit of dribble on my chin, an imprint of the sofa cushion on the side of my face and the dogs eating my sandwich.

1.30pm – back to the office to ring all the people I missed in the morning, do bills and clinical notes for this morning’s clients and check again for lab results. Then it’s back out on the road for some more visits and to make a detour via McDonalds drive-thru for an extra-strong cappuccino to see me through the post-lunch slump. Yes, you can pick up a coffee without even leaving your car! A-mazing. The American fast food culture has a lot to answer for, but whoever came up with the idea of drive-thru coffee was a genius. The afternoon visits are often slightly more leisurely and I tend to see ongoing cases as I have a bit more time to spend on them than in the mad morning rush. Few people want me to visit between 3.15pm and 4pm as it is school-run time, so I often manage a quick 5 minute skive between clients to get my horses in – the childless person’s equivalent!

5-5.30pm – finish off in the office, last few phone calls and make a list of things I didn’t get time to do today so that I can tackle them first thing tomorrow morning. Then I check the list again to make sure that the same job hasn’t crept onto it several days running. I am the world’s worst procrastinator. I work a 1:2 rota which means that in addition to the working week I am also on-call overnight every second night and all weekend every second weekend. If I am on-call I have to make sure that the car has enough fuel in the tank in case I’m driving all night and is fully stocked with drugs before I leave.

5.30-6.30pm – back to the yard to ride the other horse and feed both. All of my yard work has been done in the morning so hopefully I can spend about 40mins schooling.

7pm – time to indulge in my other hobby and go to Running Club. I have absolutely no self-motivation and probably wouldn’t run after work if it weren’t for Running Club, especially in the winter when it’s cold and dark. However I have entered a few 10k races and a half-marathon. My ultra-competitive side which tends to hamper me when eventing has also popped up to plague my running and I know I won’t be happy unless I get good race times, and I know I can’t get good race times without training, so however unattractive the idea seems in the cold and dark of a February evening, I need to get my trainers on and get out there.

8pm – home, shower, tea, feed dogs and fall asleep on the sofa again.

10pm – BED! My favourite moment of the day. Hooray! Roll on Tuesday…

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The Eventing Vet