Oh, for Medieval times! OK, so we had a much greater chance of dying of a hideously disfiguring disease, but at least horse riders had the roads to themselves. Now we have to share them with all sorts of different road users, and it can be a wee bit challenging at times….
1. Cyclists are out to get you
If something sneaks swiftly and silently up behind your horse, he will naturally assume it’s a predator. Having no real grasp of fashion, it won’t occur to him that no self-respecting lion or wolf would be seen dead in head-to-toe Lycra, with a helmet that makes them look a bit like that monster in Alien, but without the blood-sucking mandibles. If there are loads of them, in one of those peloton thingies, he may assume it’s a pack of Lycra-clad wolves. Stay cool, sit deep, and remember that although your horse may be prancing and snorting, at least you’re not wearing tight shorts with padded pants. Hopefully.
2. Tractors are out to get you
Very few horses look at a tractor and think, “wow, that’s way cool, look at the suspension on that baby! I wonder why I haven’t seen James May driving one of these on Top Gear?” This is partly because they don’t watch TV, and also because we’re massively anthropomorphising here, but the point is, most horses don’t like tractors. Fact.
3. Pheasants are…look, you get the gist, right?
They may look pretty, with all those funky bright feathers, but these game birds are actually evil ‘horse-killers’ You may not realise this, but your horse does. So, when a pheasant flies out of a hedge into his face, making that panicky honking noise of theirs, he knows that his job is to keep you safe. OK, so his idea of “keeping you safe” is to do a 180 degree spin and gallop off into the distance, which probably isn’t how you’d choose to deal with a bird so stupid it often hurls itself into the path of passing cars. But he’s doing it because he cares about you. Hang onto that thought (and the reins.).
4. Horses don’t always spook at the things you expect them to
While cyclists, tractors and pheasants may have the potential to send your horse into a tailspin, they might not. Chances are your horse will plod on by, merely flicking an ear at the offending cyclist/tractor/pheasant and wondering idly why his rider has assumed the foetal position on his back and is sobbing loudly. Woe betide, however, if a daffodil has the temerity to grow along his usual hacking route during spring time. Or perhaps it’s rained and he can see his reflection in the puddles. Shock, horror – assume panic stations everyone!
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5. Horses can turn themselves invisible
Fluorescent bib, fluorescent browband, fluorescent brushing boots, fluorescent exercise sheet… you and your trusty steed are decked out in so much hi-vis, you’re pretty sure you’re visible from the moon. Which is why it’s so peculiar that, hacking down your local B road, you and your half-ton beast are so inconspicuous as to be unnoticeable, judging from the mere inches with which cars pass you by, with no sign of slowing down. There can only be one explanation: they can’t see you. Your horse has secret super-powers, and he’s turned the pair of you invisible. We do wish he wouldn’t.
6. Wheelie bins eat horses
This one needs no explanation. Everyone knows that wheelie bins actually do eat horses.