You don’t have to spend very long on a yard to start to know your ‘gossipy rider’ from your ‘reluctant rider’. Vanessa Fletcher rounds up some of the more common types of equestrians you’re likely to have come across — and the faux pas to avoid on meeting them
1. The Keen Novice
This type of equine enthusiast is always the first to arrive at the yard and the last to leave. Usually found covered in hay and straw with their heads buried in a horsey book or magazine when they aren’t riding or doing jobs, they soak up horsey trivia like a sponge. They want to know all there is to know — NOW.
Don’t ask: “Can you ride?”
2. The Perpetual Novice
This type is similar to the keen novice except they’ve run out of steam. They learned the basics then hit a wall. Sometimes it’s a fence. These riders won’t be found in the arena; they’re more likely to be found ambling along on their horse taking in the scenery at a leisurely pace on hacks.
Don’t ask: “Have you thought about taking up cross-country?”
3. The Been There And Done It
This type of rider has been everywhere, worn the T-shirt and worn it out. They have experience in every discipline, including rarer ones like point-to pointing and polo. The time they won at dressage is usually only the starting point for their well-rehearsed script. Name dropping of adequately famous riders tends to pepper their boasts.
Don’t ask: “Didn’t you once compete at HOYS?”
4. The Nervous Rider
Easily spotted due to their ashen faces and trembling limbs, the nervous rider is something of an enigma in the horse world because even though they’re terrified, they come back every day to go through the whole ordeal once more. These riders have highly developed thigh muscles so they can do the ‘grip of death’ when panic sets in.
Don’t ask: “Have you tried hypnotherapy?”
5. The Gossipy Rider
This type of rider finds out things of interest and shares them with anyone they see wearing jodphurs. Usually found astride their four-legged friend spreading the news because they’ve found gossip is more believable when it comes from the horse’s mouth — or on horseback. They like to be the first to know everything and anything about anyone and be the first to tell everyone.
Don’t ask: “Have you heard what’s just happened?”
6. The Reluctant Rider
This rider will use any excuse not to ride. The reasons will range from the weather being too hot/cold/windy to it’s Wednesday/I’ll ride tomorrow etc. Usually, once they’re sitting in a saddle they’ll regain their enthusiasm, but the moment they slide off their horse’s back, it disappears again.
Don’t ask: “Are you riding today?”
7. The Undeterred Rider
These riders are born with nerves of steel. No matter how many times they fall off (and it’s a lot) they heroically get back on. They’re easy to spot as they have a determined expression and bruises overlapping bruises. Even though they know they’ve no chance of being placed at a show because they usually get thrown off in the lorry park, they go along for the ride anyway. The pairing have their own fan club who turn up in droves to watch them attempt to enter the ring.
Don’t ask: “Do you think he’s the right horse for you?”
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8. The Ambitious Rider
This rider will stop at nothing to win. They insist on setting their riding hat at the highest level of whatever discipline takes their ambitious fancy. Money is no object in their efforts to procure the perfect horse and level of fitness/training to secure them a place on the Olympic team. These riders can be found in the arena at dawn in driving rain and gales, working on perfecting walking in a straight line.
Don’t ask: “What’s wrong with competing at local level?”
9. The Brand-Obsessed Rider
These riders are obsessed by brands. Eyebrows raise when this brand-bling dressed combo turn up. They take making a good impression seriously. These riders have expensive tastes. Only that brand will do for them and their horse. The new season’s range means yet another spending spree.
Don’t ask: “Are you interested in this second-hand rug?”
10. The Immaculately Turned Out Rider
Similar in nature to the brand obsessed rider, these take things a step further. Brands can be mixed and matched, but everything, and I mean everything, must be immaculate. If an eyelash dares to be out of place, they go into meltdown. A tiny stable stain on a white sock has them sprinting for the shampoo. Not content with relying on buckets, they have a portable horse power shower. Their tack room is more like a show room. They’re usually found in there cleaning something.
Don’t ask: “Is that a stable stain?”