You may have been riding all your life, you may be a qualified instructor or you may be on your second Olympic medal — no matter how experienced you are, there are some daft things we all do from time to time…
1. Try to lead your horse off to the mounting block and wonder why he’s not moving before realising he’s still got the headcollar round her neck.
2. Offer to show a novice friend ‘how to do it correctly’, and promptly make the worst pig’s ear you’ve ever made in your life.
3. Give someone a leg up, and watch in horror as they sail straight over the other side.
4. Tell your well-mannered, experienced horse to stand by himself for a moment with his reins tucked away while you help a friend, then watch him disappear into the field with a flick of the heels.
5. Forget to run your offside stirrup up when untacking, and nearly knock yourself out as it catches you on the side of the head.
6. Forget to release the leg straps when taking off a New Zealand, causing your horse to shimmy like a limbo dancer and try to climb over the stable door. Alternatively, buckle the neck cover on the wrong straps so your horse spends the whole day looking lopsided, but no-one can quite work out why.
7. Forget to check your girth, and end up sprawled in an inelegant heap on the floor while your horse looks round with a ‘What, really?’ look on his face. Alternatively, accidentally completely release your girth while trying to tighten it from the saddle. This one is normally followed by a shout of “Aaargh!” and the world’s most careful dismount.
8. Lead your horse, throw the reins quickly back over his head, mount and realise you’ve got your reins crossed. Spend a few seconds trying to decide whether to get back off or just go with it…
9. Try to remount off something inappropriate while out on a hack and end up upside down in a ditch with your horse chortling at you from the bank.
10. Any kind of ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in the tack department — choose from noseband on the outside, rein through throatlash, buckling girth to the back two girth straps, not actually getting the bit in the mouth… Sometimes you discover these quickly, sometimes you realise to your horror you’ve done an entire hack like that.
11. Arrive at the stables in the pitch dark, still shattered and bleary eyed from getting up so early, and give the wrong feeds to the wrong horses. Watch in horror as the lively chestnut thoroughbred gulps down the high energy nuts, and the stodgy cob gets the calming mix.
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12. Accidentally put your half chaps on the wrong legs. Vaguely wonder why they felt a bit uncomfortable. An alternative to this one is putting your horse’s boots on the wrong legs and wondering why he’s suddenly turned in to a high-stepping Hackney.
13. Try to dismount while wearing a full length riding mac, and get inelegantly hung up on the cantle until you can work out how to squirm free. This one is most likely to happen when there are lots of small children on the yard, pointing and giggling.
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