11 signs you were a horsey kid in the noughties

  • We’re forever grateful the millennium bug had no bite, or we wouldn’t have had the chance to be a horsey kid in the noughties. At a time everyone played Snake, the Gallagher brothers plunged into all-out warfare and the TV hit Big Brother launched, the contemporary horsey child was deciding which of their Joules polo shirts to wear, or writing fan mail to Mary King after her Badminton win. It was a wholesome time.

    If you were a horsey kid in the noughties, you’re now approaching – even surpassing – 30, and it’s a fact many of us are in total denial about. Notwithstanding, there’s nothing like looking back and feeling the comforting glow of nostalgia when you’ve a big birthday barrelling towards you like a runaway train. A runaway train full of official-looking letters, bills, unanswered Whatsapps and Teams meeting invites.

    Moving swiftly on, here are some of our most striking memories of life as a pony-mad Y2K kid that we hope are universal and not just a sign of equestrian mania. How many sound familiar to you?

    Signs you were a horsey kid in the noughties

    1. The fashion was unparalleled

    Your yard wardrobe consisted of coloured jodhpurs, quilted waistcoats and bulky waterproof jackets emblazoned with your name and your pony’s. Off the yard, your attire had to signal to the rest of society that your identity was unapologetically linked to all things equestrian. Cue “I love my pony” tees, cowboy hats and Dubarry boots at every opportunity.

    2. Clothing sponsorships were reserved for the pros only

    With social media yet to enter the chat, pony-mad kids turned to the sports top riders for what to wear. As soon as Ellen Whitaker started sporting Caldene in the ring, it became the hottest property.

    3. There was no cult of matchy-matchy

    Sure, we’ve grown to adore the matchy and squeal with excitement at LeMieux’s latest colour drop, but back in the day it just wasn’t really a thing. However, there was an exception to this rule – a hunter trial. But there were no sleek baselayers sported here, it was all about the big cotton jerseys in migraine-inducing colourways and designs. Bonus points for custom made shirts with your fave colours.

    4. Speaking of clobber, you couldn’t wait for the Robinsons catalogue to hit the doormat

    Picture it: lying on your front on the living room for, legs whimsically kicking back and forth. One hand supports your chin, the other circles saddles, bridles, boots, jackets, yard equipment – you name it – in the pages of your seasonal shopping bible. You present the leafed-through volume to an unsuspecting parent. They’d be better off not looking at the prices…

    5. You had a whole yard in your bedroom

    While rosettes and pony posters covered the walls, Breyer, Schleich and Julip horses littered the floor. Each had a name, a training programme and its own set of tack. If only your own pony’s stable was this small, you’d have him mucked out in seconds…

    6. You also had a virtual yard

    The noughties really was the era of equestrian gaming. Mary King Riding Star, the Barbie Horse Adventures franchise, Lucinda Green’s Equestrian Challenge, Pippa Funnell: Take The Reins – in those days, you spent as much time training your virtual pony as you did your real one. Honourable mention to Pippa Funnell: The Stud Farm Inheritance, this writer’s all-time favourite game. The sheep herding challenge still gives me nightmares… if you know, you know.

    A treasured relic of a bygone era

    7. Watching Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was the highlight of your childhood

    This 2002 film is probably Matt Damon’s most prestigious voice credit (as far as we’re concerned, anyway). Spirit had it all – strong message, mild-to-major peril, the power of the horse-human bond, but more importantly, the mother of all soundtracks. Seriously, Bryan Adams did not need to go that hard for a film about a horse.  But he did, and we are eternally grateful.

    8. Waiting for on-the-day show photos…

    If you wanted a snap of your round, you took home a photographer’s printout. None of this ‘downloading a digital image to upload to Facebook and Instagram’ malarkey. If you were at a busy show, though, this could take forever. You’d be back and forth to the photographer’s tent, with each visit hoping the SD card with your class photos on had finally been retrieved. But alas, each trip would be in vain.

    When you finally got that gorgeous glossy pic in a cardboard frame, though? Pure euphoria.

    9. …but when you got a digital camera of your own, everything went on Facebook

    We’re talking hundreds of snaps spread over multiple albums with names like <3 x PC CAMP 2006!! x <3. You painstakingly tagged your friends in each photo. Extra marks awarded to riders who made Facebook accounts for their ponies, and tagged them too.

    10. The Pony Club Camp dresscode was extreme

    Cream jods, tie and tweed jacket for every ridden session! These days, most branches allow an affiliated polo shirt and jumper. We’ve even heard rumours of black and navy jodhpurs finding their way into the quintessential Pony Club wardrobe, which we’re sure today’s horsey parents are delighted by!

    11. You were a true all-rounder

    If you were a horsey kid in the noughties, you did a bit of everything – there was no specialism in one particular discipline. The average summer show took place in a random field, with about eight different grass rings and hundreds of classes of all kinds on offer.

    Getting through the day took some serious scheduling, and it wasn’t uncommon to see kids cantering between rings because they had a showjumping round at 9.15am and “pony with the most appealing eyes” at 9.20am. Before lunch there’d be a dressage test and a working hunter pony class. Then, after a burger, you’d drag the family dog around an agility course before tacking your pony back up for gymkhana games and wrapping the day with handy pony.

    Have we missed any essential noughties memories? Write to us at hhletters@futurenet.com with your insights, including your name, nearest town and county for the chance to be included in a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine.

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