It’s day nine hundred and fifty three billion of the human strangles epidemic, but slowly some semblance of a type of normality is returning as humans are now able to be groomed, exercised and socialised in small numbers, even if it’s with a grazing muzzle on to protect them from each other. This gives hope for all of us that any lasting effects from this virus will be minimised; and to be clear, I’m not talking about health or societal issues, I’m talking about humans who have little else to do but focus on us poor equines for the past five months, taking an extremely unhealthy interest in things like online stressage training, reading unhelpful articles on “self-carriage” and obsessing over our weight, while neatly overlooking the fact that they might want to Google human girdles rather than horse girths while pretending they’re wearing lounge attire for a fashion statement and not because nothing else fits… I’m not sure how you spell hypocrite, but I’m 100% sure that’s there’s a picture of my mother right next to it…
Across the land many of my fellow equines are back doing an almost normal routine; eventers are back eventing, minus the challenge of playing chicken with stray dogs, racehorses are back racing without the distraction of a sea of fascinators doing a Mexican wave near the winning post, stressage horses are back dancing like no one’s watching (mainly because no one is), and I’m still being thrown under the non-metaphorical bus by my lemming-like mother on a weekly basis.
Cool New Shoes Man was out last week doing our feet and so thus removing any excuses I had for “accidentally” tripping over my own toes and catapulting mother under the nearest John Deere, thus giving me much-needed peace and the beneficiaries of her generous life insurance policy something to smile about. The man is a killjoy of epic proportions, even if he does like to wind mother up by giving mini-mother a series of quasi-insulting messages, guilded in military grade sarcasm, which she repeats ad verbatim to mother with the innocence of a blonde-haired Bambi.
So, thus on Sunday I was once more dragged in from the field with the enthusiasm of a heretic buying matches, tacked up 44 holes higher than normal on my girth because I haven’t been fed properly since mother could fit in her skinny jeans without needing to be greased up first and marched out of the yard with Bob and his mother, who is clearly suffering the same level of delusionment as mine; all before any bird had even dreamt about any worms let alone caught any.
All was going reasonably ok in so far as there had been minimal arguments over leg-yielding past a particularly deadly looking floral foe and a small passage past a unpleasant pheasant and mother was at least holding up 70% of my head weight when the faintest of rumbles could be heard behind us. Mother turned in the saddle and twitched more violently than Jimmy Carr’s tax accountant hearing adverts for Haven, as she tried not to let on we had a two tonne tractor of terror bearing down on my ass like an unwanted relative at Christmas. Bob’s mother restored my faith that some humans do actually possess a brain by suggesting we should “trot on” toward the gap in the hedge that loomed like a shining beacon of hope some distance down the road, and indeed for about six strides we made like sheep and got the flock out of there.
This was all well and good until the mothership determined that my flight response indicator was creeping from “not happy but handleable” into “too hot to hold” and that we would be much better suited “calmly walking” while she re-enacted the Spice Girls routine to “stop” at a totally bemused tractor driver. He clearly wasn’t au fait with either girl power or charades and thus kept bearing down on us with the relentless tenacity of a terminator with a chip malfunction. At this point, Bob showed that he truly understands which one of us the world needs most and stopped to face down the terror while I made safety, which was undoubtedly one of the most meaningful acts of sacrifice I have seen since mother let me lick her Magnum in the summer of 2009. Which was all fine until I realised that I was now alone with the only sacrificial option left being the bazooka-boobed brainless blonde up top, and frankly, I couldn’t blame any god (tractor or otherwise) for asking for a gift receipt with that option.
Suddenly, Bob’s sacrifice didn’t seem worth it, which mother did seem to agree with if her gesticulating was anything to go by. Anyway Bob the Brave (as mother gushingly reffered to him) or Bob the Barmy (as I maintain) reappeared next to me with the unruffled air of a Dodo turning down the last mating opportunity on earth as we finally reached the sanctity of the gap in the hedge and turned round to face our foe. Well, strictly speaking, I span round to bugger off at high speed across the stubble field, but since mother had by this time a tighter hold on my reins than Kanye West’s press officer has on his social media accounts, I didn’t get too far.
Hovis has some wishes he would like to come true
If you want to keep up with the latest from the equestrian world without leaving home, grab a H&H subscription
Eventually the tractor gave up on us and carried on past hunting fresh victims and we entered the stubble field for a sedate gentle meander. Well Bob did. I bounced into it sideways like Tigger after a Red Bull binge, leaping about like a hare on a hot plate, resulting in mother having to sit in the saddle like a statue for concern that a mere sneeze may have resulted in us seeing Scotland in short order.
Needless to say, as mother gazed at the good ground with longing, any thoughts of giving Bob his first open space canter diminished faster than mother’s bank balance as I was judged too “unstable” to be trusted not to develop chronic brake failure. Personally, I feel that even suggesting that I have the “panic and run” tendencies of a thoroughbred in pyjamas shows a total lack of appreciation for the selfless acts of heroism I demonstrate in the face of certain death. And daffodils…
I am thus trying not to draw conclusion from the fact I am now sporting a new suspiciously patterned fly rug and am being referred to as “Stripes” on a daily basis, but it’s fair to say one is not amused.
We are continuing to produce Horse & Hound as a weekly magazine during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to keep our website at horseandhound.co.uk up to date with breaking news, features and more. Click here for info about magazine subscriptions and access to our premium H&H Plus content online.