You are endlessly grateful to your non-horsey parents for their continued support with your love affair with horses (unfortunately for them it wasn’t “just a phase”). But it would be really nice if they could take a read of this and take heed…
1. You can never ask for help
The girth will be skewiff, the headcollar will be upside down and… HOW MUCH HAY!?
Thanks dad, but I’ll do it next time.
2. No riding as a punishment
Instead of the standard “you’re grounded” or “you’re not going to Sophie’s birthday party” you hear the dreaded: “Right, that’s it. You’re not doing the hunter trial this weekend.” Or even worse: “No more riding for a month.”
I’m sorry mum, it doesn’t really work like that. Not riding for a month means one nutcase of a pony and the risk of broken bones for your dear child (me). Are you sure you want to hold that kind of responsibility?
3. Everything is too shiny
You’re embarrassed to get out of your mum’s new Mini Cooper D (convertible), which she conveniently purchased in duck egg blue. You sheepishly get out of the car when arriving at lessons as your friends show up in their gloriously muddy pick-up trucks.
You also get told off for making everything muddy at home. Always.
What could be more wonderful than sharing your beloved sport with your equally beloved parent/offspring? A few of these problems…
4. Parking embarrassment
Finally! Your parents bought a horse trailer! This means you can go to shows. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Problem is, you’re too young to have a licence yourself and your parents just can’t get to grips with reversing a trailer… left for right and right for left — what!?
Even five years later, parental negativity swamps the car when trying to park at a show on a wet day. “This is the last time we’re doing this. We’ll never get out of the field with mud like this.”
5. Too many treats
People that don’t know a great deal about horses seem to have a vision that they eat endless supplies of apples. You’ll catch Uncle Jim feeding your pony his ninth apple of the morning. Or grandad will hurt his back from stooping over to pull up all the long grass to feed him.
He’s already fat and he lives in a field full of grass. Please stop it.
6. “She’s an excellent rider”
No mum, she’s not. Her pony is just very, very easy to ride.
The statement from mum is then made even worse if she adds: “Why don’t you enter the 1.10m classes like their daughter?” Or: “How come you always knock poles down or get a refusal for anything above 85cm?”
7. “You can’t come second in a war”
For some reason non-horsey parents don’t understand how difficult it is to be included in the prize-giving, never mind actually winning.
You’re thrilled to be in the placings and to be coming home with a beautiful sixth place rosette.
Your phone rings. It’s dad. And the first thing he says is: “So did you win then!?”
Sighs. “No, dad. Not today.”
Sadly, conversation will then very quickly turn to the: “You’re not going to be doing this as a career so, what’s the point?”
Again, breathe… breathe…
Don’t miss the feature in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (28 January 2016) about top riders who have triumphed with unhorsey parents