AFTER several happy years working with the flotsam and jetsam of equine society, I have taken a step up in the world.

Instead of run down piebald rescue ponies of the type often seen tied to posts in the middle of a highway roundabout, I am now working with the pampered darlings of the Sport of Kings.

These horses are so well bred that if they could speak, they certainly wouldn’t be seen dead talking to the likes of me.

Helping to nurse chubby cobs and cruelly mistreated ponies back to vibrant health was very rewarding, but there is something special about seeing sleek and high stepping strutters being taken for their morning gallop across the misty moors.

Yet some things never change – no matter how well bred and sophisticated they are, their stable outpourings are equally odiferous and unpleasant no matter how expensive the source.

And horses of all classes seem to take great delight in gleefully emptying their bowels and bladders all over my carefully plumped and artfully arranged straw as soon as they come back into the stable from exercise.

The racehorses are generally much taller than my former charges, and several of them have taken a liking to my hair.

I never wear a hat, because my head is so large I can’t get one to fit me, and with the advancing years turning my once mousy hair a lighter shade of pale, they seem to think it is a crop of hay.

They regularly attempt to take hearty bites out of it from their towering positions, and if I bat them away, they seize hold of the elastic hood ties of my waterproof Bellingham FC training top purloined from my son, draw them to their full extent, and then let the plastic bobbles on the end smack crisply into my face.

When I first started working with horses, with the many tons of hay, straw and haylage to work through on a weekly basis, I thought it inevitable I would come across more than my fair share of rats and mice attracted to this regular supply of freely available provender.

Yet I can honestly say I have never come across a single rat, and only the occasional mouse, perhaps because of the abundance of cats slinking about both places of work.

An absence of mice is not something I can boast about Hextol Towers at the moment, for after the major cull of a couple of years ago, they appear to be making something of a comeback.

I was alerted to this fact by a piercing scream from Mrs Hextol the other day, and rushed downstairs to see her pointing with quivering finger at the little shed where we keep the bird seed and other assorted accoutrements.

I expected to see a coiled and hissing adder or at least a malevolent sparrowhawk, but at first I could see nothing at all.

Then at her direction, I looked at the small brown smudge at the bottom of the door and realised it was a mouse which had nibbled its last piece of cheese.

It was stretched out with its little nose touching the bottom of the gate, looking for all the world like a Muridaean version of Mark Twain’s Injun Joe trying in vain to find his way out of McDougal’s Cave,.

There were no signs of violence to its little corpse, but Mrs Hextol was in no mood to mourn the creature.

“Where’s there’s one there will be a whole family,” she wailed.

“They’ll be in the bin where we keep the bird seed.

“You’ll have to tip it out; in fact, you’ll have to empty the whole shed to find out where they are living.”

I pointed out that it was highly unlikely that even the dimmest mouse would hang around while work shoes, lawn mowers, sun loungers and emergency boxes of Daz were removed from their abode, but gave the shed contents a cursory jiggle anyway with no signs of any mousy escapees, or even droppings.

“Look in the bird seed bin,” cried Mrs Hextol from the safety of the conservatory.

“I bet it’s full of mouse muck!”!

I removed the lid – admittedly a little gingerly – and indeed the seed was sprinkled with lots off little black dottles.

Sadly, for Mrs Hextol’s theory, they were merely bits of crushed sunflower seeds, and I don’t suppose we will ever know how the little mouse came to meet such a sad end in our garden.