If you go to a lot of competitions, chances are you’ll have met a few of these equine characters before, says Sara Walker…

1. The saint – never runs out, never stops, never swerves. While he’s not the fastest against the clock, you know you’ll always come back in one piece. He spends his days off working out the correct stride, and can sometimes be seen in the field practising flying-changes. If you ever decide to part with him, you’ll be knocked over in the stampede.

2. The perfect gent – lets you go over first, every time.

3. The jammy dodger – never pays attention to his rider, takes the wrong line every single time, rattles every top rail and puts in an extra stride at every combination, but always somehow gets away with it.

4. The Speedy Gonzales – this horse is fantastic against the clock, provided he happens to be pointing the right way when he reaches the fence. The best policy is to hang on and steer.

5. The clown – a generous spirit, the clown understands that his role isn’t to jump those silly obstacles but to amuse the crowd. Hence, he’ll often pause for a sneaky bite out of the flower arrangements or walk up to a fence and knock it down with his nose, just for a laugh.

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6. The nervous Nellie – normally a young or inexperienced horse, the nervous Nellie is scared of everything. And we mean everything. The crowd, the noise, the jumps, a child with an ice cream, a child without an ice cream, his own shadow, the grass…..Stick with him though. Once they’ve settled down, Nellies often turn out to be super-talented.

7. The artful dodger – never goes over a fence if he can go round it, through it or even, possibly, under it. If he put half as much effort into going over the fence as he does into working out how to avoid it, you’d be competing at grand prix level now.

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