‘Eccentricity and horsemanship can be happy companions’

  • There was thrilling news from Rome last weekend: the great master John Whitaker sealed the second back-to-back Nations Cup victory for the British team on the magnificent stallion Argento (pictured), just a week after the team’s triumph in La Baule.

    The look on chef d’équipe Di Lampard’s face summed up the mood of pure elation. Even the Italians joined in as three Whitakers — John, Robert and Michael, with Holly Gillott — won a standing ovation from the home crowd. It is astonishing that John will be 60 this summer; something to celebrate, we feel.

    Closer to home, we were tickled to see H&H mentioned in Jeremy Clarkson’s recent column. He knows, he writes, that the country is completely off its rocker because collectively we own nearly half a million “pet horses”, and people — he makes it clear that means women — who own horses lose all sense of reason.

    He also notes that a favourite activity for horse-owners is to take their mounts to shows, where everyone stands around trying to decide which is the best; a further sign of madness because, he says, “horses are like milk bottles, they all look the same”.

    The dear man. Where does he get his figures? According to the British Equestrian Trade Association there are about 900,000 privately owned horses, rising to just below a million when the horses owned by the professionals are added. And we’re not clear on what rock of sanity the petrol-head extraordinaire stands (but let’s not quibble; H&H believes that eccentricity and horsemanship can be happy companions).

    What we are sure about is that we’re proud to play our part in the “madness” of horse-ownership, elite and amateur. Long may the glorious insanity last.

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