“He never does this at home, I swear!” Your horse can be an angelic sweetheart 99% of the time, but you can bet that the one time he lets you down will be when you need it least.
Here are seven possible situations where your horse might show you up at some point.
1. When he’s standing during a presentation
He’s stood like a rock on the lorry, in the collecting ring and during the class, but as soon as it comes to the prize giving your horse has decided it’s time to move, and fast. While horses can be forgiven for a subtle fidget in a busy atmosphere — they’re not robots after all — you do ponder why he can stand without the flick of an ear when a HGV lorry drives past him or a fleet of low-flying aircraft fly over him, but struggles to contain himself while waiting for his rosette at your local show.
2. When you try to load him at a show
After a long day at a competition, you would think your horse would jump up the ramp as eagerly as he did earlier that morning, desperate to get home for a big feed and some field time. But nope. Your horse would much rather stay put on the grassy show field. Typically, on the day he decides he doesn’t want to load you are, of course, parked next to your equestrian idol who spots the chaos and offers to help get him in. The embarrassment is real.
3. When he meets a new farrier
You’re so confident that your horse is good to shoe until he meets the new farrier and decides that this strange, unfamiliar individual isn’t touching his feet at whatever cost.
4. When you get pulled in top
Your horse has gone like a dream on the go-round. He was so heavenly that he was pulled in first by the judges. This is his moment. The first half of your show is equally impressive, before your horse spots a suspicious-looking human in the crowd, spooks, bucks and drops his shoulder, nearly dismounting you in the process. After blowing his big chance, you are dropped to the bottom of the line and the judge has to sympathetically explain that you would have won if it hadn’t been for that ‘little moment’.
5. When your non-horsey other half/parent/friend visits the yard
You’ve sung your horse’s praises since the moment you bought him and it’s finally time for your non-horsey connections to meet him. Their expectations are high, thanks to your endless rambles gushing over the fabulousness of your precious animal. On meeting, the clash is instant, as your horse plants his ears firmly back on his head, grimaces and stands at the back of the stable. You say that he’s just having a bad day, but your friend, relative or partner is seriously underwhelmed by the experience.
6. When someone else has a ride
For you, he can go like Valegro (in your opinion), but as soon as someone else has a sit on it’s a completely different story. “Maybe just add a bit more leg,” you cautiously suggest from the side of the arena, as you wonder if your horse really looks like that when you’re on him. Your horse uses the unfamiliarity of the new rider to his advantage, putting minimum effort into the job before him, and the rider is obviously horrified by the feel, despite their best efforts to hide it.
7. When the saddle fitter comes
Tacking up is usually a leisurely experience you complete without a second’s thought, but when the saddle fitter rocks up, your horse suddenly decides to embody a feral, unbacked three-year-old who has just come in off the hill, complete with gnashing teeth and flying hooves.
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