Whether you grew up with a mother who was keener — and tougher — than you, or one who admired your pony from afar but still loyally trailed around the country after you, our tongue-in-cheek recollections of horsey mums might ring a few bells
1. The relief mum
Amanda’s two daughters — Charlotte the horsey one and Victoria who works in the City, but every year wangles a few Fridays off to go hunting — have gone skiing for a week.
They and their boyfriends have, considerately, used her car to get to the airport —“our cars are far too small to take all of us and our luggage, Mum” — and left her with the battered Ford to trundle to the shops in.
What had seemed like a selfless gesture at the time, starts to take on menacing proportions as Amanda is left with 14 equines and 5 dogs.
The days descend into a drudge of feeding, changing rugs, turning out and fetching in. The eventers behave well, but the two hunters are recalcitrant beasts, liable to run away at a moment’s provocation.
A glorious finale to the week occurs when, dodging hooves, Amanda grabs the electric fence for support and gets a massive shock before cutting her finger when opening a new bale of haylage. “Tomorrow,” she sighs, “I get my life back.”
Going inside for her evening reward of a strong G&T and a nap in front of the Aga, Amanda’s phone rings.
“Hello Mum,” says Victoria. “You’ll never believe it, Lottie’s only fallen and broken her wrist — you’ll be all right to do the horse for a bit longer won’t you?”
2. The lead-rein mother
Perdita has been perfecting her trot. Never mind the pony, but her submission is exceptional and her cadence is out of this world.
A beautifully tailored Vivienne Westwood suit, bought at exorbitant cost, complements Heatherly Heaven Scent’s shimmering mahogany bay coat perfectly. And her intricately woven hat would stand out a mile at Ascot.
“Sit up straight and smile, for goodness sake,” she hisses at Petunia, manhandling her daughter’s heels into a tortuous downward position.
Ever since Petunia — a much longed for girl — was born 8 years ago, Perdita has thought of little else but the Olympia spotlight. The judge makes her move. Perdita’s heart misses a beat.
She’s done it! They are pulled in first. Perdita lets out a suppressed squeal of excitement and trots into position at the head of the line-up.
“I knew you could do it,” she purrs at Petunia, turning to stroke her daughter’s knee as she steals a sly glance to her left, where the rest of the line-up are slinking into place.
It doesn’t get much better than this, she thinks, adjusting her hat one last time and beaming for the photographer.
3. The showjumping mum
“Go on — faster! Turn! YES!”
Mum lets the stopwatch on which she times each round — after all, you can’t rely on these show centres to get it right — fall to her chest and punches the air in jubilation.
Rosie drops the barely puffing Mr Fabulous’s reins as she leaves the arena, poles happily still in their cups despite a hairy moment, and pats his neck.
“Well, that turn was a bit bloody silly,” says Mum, as she stuffs the treasured little thoroughbred with Polos, all her attention on the four-legged hero of the moment. “Lucky for you it came off.”
The other mothers exchange smiles — they all know that had Rosie not attempted the turn and finished in second place, she would be getting a far harder time than this. No place for steady clears in that family.
Rosie sighs and looks around at the other competitors, being praised and fussed over, merely for staying on for once.
“What I wouldn’t give for a mum like theirs,” she sighs inwardly.
The tannoy booms and Rosie leads the way back into the arena, taking her place at the head of the line-up.
“Although on second thoughts,” she reconsiders, eyeing the approaching ribbons and fat envelope with gleeful anticipation, “perhaps mine isn’t so bad.”