Today marks a sad day for the equestrian world — as the clock strikes midnight we will have to wave goodbye to the Chinese year of the horse. And it won’t be until 2026 that we can celebrate it again.
Perhaps we should pity the sheep that takes the helm tomorrow (19 February) — the horse is a hard act to follow.
Chinese New Year — for which the main celebrations will happen across mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and other Asian countries — is linked to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, where each year is represented by a different animal. And the belief is that you share the attributes of the animal associated to the year that you were born.
So while you might associate your horse with greed or irrational behaviour, the official line is that if you’re born in the Chinese year of the horse, you’ll be energetic, bright and intelligent.
Add to that good communication skills, being popular and talented and it looks like you’re onto a winner.
We will be expecting great things for the lucky generation of offspring from equestrian royalty who have been born in the Chinese year of the horse — if a predetermined equestrian career wasn’t already on the cards, surely this is the icing on the cake? We expect they’ll be on a horse before they can walk or talk.
And the proof is in the pudding. We’ve raided our birthday book and found a treasure trove of horsey heroes who were born in a year of the horse.
Take racing’s Willie Carson (1942), Brough Scott (1942) and Choc Thornton (1978) — has being born in the year of the horse been a helping hand in their dazzling careers on the track?
Other equestrian household names include eventing’s Nick Gauntlett (1978) and Ian Stark (1954), and showjumper William Funnell (1966).
So make note of this year’s stars in the making: Emily Fox-Pitt and Henry Gauntlett may already have their sights set on Badminton glory, Shane and Chloe Breen’s fourth child Wolfe will be counting down the days until his first Hickstead — and Annalisa Tomlinson is likely to be dreaming of gold medals already.
But beware: it won’t all be plain sailing. Those born in a horse year can also be impatient and hot-blooded.