HOW is it that whenever I have a bit of a problem ­–­ and I suspect I have more than most –I am so often on my own?

Take the other day, when I was with half a dozen other folk and everything was going smoothly as people wheeled barrows, carried nets of hay or lugged buckets brimming with water.

Then I went into a stall to shake out some hay and everyone vanished into thin air.

I was left only with the heavy breathing of horses, the bellow of a distant chainsaw and the acrid smell of smoke from the A68, where workmen have been busy all week plying monster blow torches to burn off bitumen laid just a few months ago.

It seems the newly-laid tar had been causing problems for motor cyclists, who had been falling off with even more regularity than usual on this troublesome road.

The road signs say there have been 75 accidents on the road in the last three years, but this information should be taken with a large pinch of salt, as those signs have been there for 30 years to my personal knowledge!

The box I had gone into was occupied by a pony affectionately known as Goofy, because of his prominent teeth, and I made him comfortable with an armful of straw.

But when I tried to get out, I found the stable door had bolted itself shut.

This self-locking door has caused me problems before, because its ground level kick bar lock has a nasty habit of engaging with the floor.

If you get locked in, there’s usually someone going past to effect a release, or at worst, there is usually a brush or a long-handled fork to hand with which to finagle the door open.

However, the yard had taken on a Mary Celeste aspect, with no-one around to hear my desperate pleas for release, and the mucking out implements were on the other side of the stable.

I shook the door hopefully – some Houdini horses can let themselves out with a well-placed hoof – but the bar remained resolutely in place.

There was only one way out, and that was by climbing over the neck-high door - but there were no footholds and my feeble arms were too puny to haul myself over.

I took a couple of runs at the door, but my scrabbling feet were unable to gain purchase, and I fell back defeated. There were also my first time on, new waterproof trousers to consider.

I considered clambering onto Goofy’s broad back to climb out, but felt he might collapse under my weight, and in any event, those goofy incisors looked like they could inflict a nasty nip should I invade his personal space further.

Fellow stable occupants were starting to take an interest in my increasingly desperate escape attempts with mocking whinnies – and then my eyes lit on Goofy’s water bucket, bolted to the stable wall because of his propensity for kicking it over.

I had filled it to the brim some half an hour earlier, so I carefully lifted it down and tried to use it as a stepping stone.

However, the narrow sides of the trough proved too precarious, and I twice plunged my feet into the water, once landing flat on my back in in Goofy’s straw, much to his consternation.

There was no alternative – I had to empty the water bucket to be able to use it as a stepping stone. The cascade seemed to go on forever more, and I briefly thought I might be carried over the door on the tidal wave.

It finally ebbed though, and I turned the bucket over and slithered over the top of the door like a giant slug.

I was, however, left to deal with the great flood now swirling round the stable and no matter how much I plied my brush, it didn’t seem to get any less for some considerable time.

I refilled Goofy’s bucket and hung it back on the wall, but when fellow stable folk started to reappear, there remained a damp trail emanating from Goofy’s box.

Someone suggested that Goofy had reverted to his old ways and had somehow contrived to kick over his bucket again, so I nobly confessed that I was the guilty party.

“I somehow guessed that,” said the boss. “Goofy would have made a better job of brushing up the mess!”