Though I'm a vet, dawn just isn't my favourite time. I prefer the eiderdown of my duvet when the new rays of the day are still struggling to light the day. Instead I'm at Jacob's farm with real eiderdown blowing about the rain-slick farmyard. In my freshly laundered coveralls I climb down out of my fragranced Range Rover, awaiting the slight slip of farmyard muck under my boots - but it doesn't come. Jacob must have hosed the yard down, it's about as spotless as a farm gets. On the sound of a closing door I look up, he's half running toward me. He isn't like this for a sheep or duck, it's his horse, his pride and joy that's in pain and I can see etched on his weathered features that it isn't only the horse that's suffering.

"Kyle! Thank God! She's in a right old mess, follow me!" And in his aging rubber boots and dirt infused jeans he sets off at a trot for the stables and reluctantly I follow suit. It really does feel too early to be running anywhere, but when I see the horse all is forgiven. She's uncomfortable, head swaying, flanks hot. It's an infection of some kind. Jacob enters the stable first, and this man who usually barks orders and rarely smiles starts to soothe the horse with a gentle touch and a baby's lullaby. In his gravelly tones it has an unusual beauty, like an old man with his firstborn grandchild.

The horse is lifting her weight off one leg, standing awkwardly and so I run a hand down the back of her leg and pick it up. There's an abscess under the dirt. I give him the options and prices, for less money we can tie the horse up tight and I can go at it with a knife, clean out the pus and give the antibiotics, it'll hurt but she'll be fine. I can see from Jacob's face he's almost ready to vomit. So I give him the more costly option with sedation, pain-free, same result. He nods and returns to the lullaby, stroking her neck, leaning his craggy face into hers....