You know the age-old story: girl meets boy. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Girl happens to be secret pony girl, and boy turns out to own multiple horses. Match made in heaven and they both literally ride off into the sunset — perfect. Or is it really?
Many horsey people often wish for a horsey partner, but over the last four years I have learnt having an equine element in a relationship can lead to some rather ‘interesting’ situations...
He and I had been together for a while when one of those milestone birthdays was coming up for me. He had always done well on the gift-front, but as it was a ‘big’ birthday, He said he was going to get me something special — I was intrigued!
The day arrived, and I was taken to a lovely place in central London for breakfast that was far more upmarket than our usual haunts. As we tucked into pastries and coffee, He grinned excitedly as he handed over an odd-shaped package, wrapped up in newspaper.
I opened it carefully. Inside was a brand new, custom made ladies’ hunting whip, its collar engraved with ‘Happy Birthday’, alongside our initials and the date. I was absolutely gob smacked.
Hunting was something we had both flirted with in our childhoods, but had taken no further. Since being a couple we had managed to get out a handful of times together, and found it was a mutual passion despite our different horsey backgrounds.
My family wasn’t at all horsey, inconveniently meaning there were no vintage hunting whips kicking around; plus, only getting out two or three times a season meant I couldn’t really justify the extravagance of purchasing one for myself. I had told Him on our days out hunting how envious I was of his beautiful heirloom crop that he carried, but had thought nothing more of it. Therefore, it was a perfect present from Him, and something no-one else would have ever thought to get me.
After brunch, we carried on to our local Chinese restaurant, where about 20 of our London friends were going to meet us. As soon as we arrived, some of my best girl friends rushed up to greet me.
“So, what did He get you?” they asked, excitedly.
“It was so romantic,” I beamed proudly. “He got me a hunting whip.”
They stared at me, blankly. As we had come straight from brunch, the treasured gift was safely in my bag, so I thought I would be simpler to show them. How wrong I was.
The girls shrieked with laughter.
“Romantic?! It looks like a weapon. . . or something worse!”
Blushing, I quickly shut my bag — that wasn’t the reaction I had expected!
I changed tact when my neighbour, during the meal, asked the same question. I tried explaining it.
“It’s a hunting whip — like a leather-bound cane, with a hooked end and a long plaited leather lash the other end…” I trailled off as my companion’s eyebrows disappeared up past their hairline, and instead went on to talk about gift from my parents and family.
By the end of the meal, I had come up with a different method; “A hunting whip — just imagine, it’s like getting a pearl necklace, but for a horsey girl.”
The friend smiled and nodded, and said how sweet that was. Personally, I didn’t think the analogy did the gift justice at all. What use is a pearl necklace when it’s pouring with rain and you’re grappling with a tricky gate or rounding up runaway hounds? However, it did help communicate the sentiment of the gift, and avoided the sticky topic of “weapon or worse”, so I guess in that sense it was a win.
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The lunch ended, and I dragged myself home after a day packed with food. Happy but tired from the busy day, I scrolled through the messages on my phone. Earlier, a horsey friend from home had wished me Happy Birthday, and I had replied mentioning what He had got me. She had texted back, “WHAT a keeper! That’s so sweet of him, such a thoughtful present – no excuses not to see you both out next season then! xx”
I smiled, glad that at least ONE person had understood how lucky I was and what a special present He had given me. However, having been teased relentlessly by our mutual non-horsey friends at lunch for the ‘odd’ choice of gift that meant he “really was whipped,” I am seriously unsure whether He will bother to go to so much effort next year!