So you meet someone at a party, you get chatting — and lo and behold, it turns out they’ve got a horse, too. At this point, your spouse/partner/friends know they’ve lost you — and if they’re non-horsey, that they may as well give up trying to follow the conversation now. Because it will go on for hours and go something like this…
Do you hunt?
This is a de rigeur question to ask, even if you’d have to have consumed an entire flask of cherry brandy before you’d give your horse free rein to gallop like a nutter across muddy fields, surrounded by nutty horses, leaping over hedges with gay abandon.
What do you do?
This, as any equestrian knows, is not a reference to your job — god no, who cares about that? It’s a reference to what you do with your horse. Possible responses range from “oh nothing much, we just toddle around the lanes” to “we’re doing the Grassroots at Badminton this year, actually”. The latter will hugely impress horsey people; anyone eavesdropping will think you’re a professional gardener.
You live in Sussex? Oh, you must know the Blythes — you know, Penny Blythe?
You probably do, you know. The horse world is like that.
Where do you keep him?
Another good opener, usually seguing into an interesting conversation about the merits of DIY, part- or full-livery, versus keeping your horse at home. Just be aware that those around you think you’re Handy Andy, because you keep going on about DIY — and if you’re not careful your host is going to ask you if you’d mind fixing that dodgy shelf in the kitchen…
How is he bred?
To the uninitiated, this makes you sound incredibly snobby, as if you only associate with people with double-barrelled surnames and second homes that are actually Scottish castles. Even though you don’t own a bouncy castle… let alone a Scottish one.
What are you doing rugs-wise at the moment?
The subject of rugging — when to and how much — divides the horsey community in much the same way that the topic of breast versus bottle-feeding sends new parents into spasms of rage. Tread carefully if you don’t want to offend your new friend.
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Is your he a good doer?
Anyone overhearing this probably thinks this stranger is asking you an extremely personal question about your love life…