1. They always cost more than you expect. You budget for your horse and then he needs a vet’s visit, new rugs or the lorry breaks down. You budget for hen parties, but then there are always extras for drinks, activities, games or decorations.
2. You make lots of new friends. However you know the bride, it’s likely her hen party will bring together friends from lots of different areas of her life… and odds-on, they are going to be nice people (like your friend). Ready-made new friends! Similarly, horse riders will always find something to bond over quickly when parked next to each other at an event, stabled together or if they just exchange a friendly word out hacking.
3. Occasionally, there are tears. Horses can be tough, hen dos can be emotional. Need we say more?
4. There’s always more mess than you expect. You know how it is with horses — however tidy you try to keep the yard, tackroom or feed room, there’s always washing hanging up, straw blowing about or those stray pony nuts rolling around the floor. As for hen dos, it’s amazing how much hoovering up is needed after a few party poppers, some balloons full of confetti and a nice full pack of “Team Bride” napkins have done their worst.
5. You get a sash if you do well… which, in the case of a hen do, means if you’re the bride.
6. You have to pack lots of things. Taking your horse anywhere involves an awful lot of paraphernalia — particularly if you’re eventing and need kit for three different phases or staying away and have to take all that gubbins for feeding and mucking out as well as competition gear. Stay-away hen dos also seem to require a lot of stuff — outfits for activities, clothes for going out in the eventing and pyjamas which are fit for other people to see.
7. And it seems like you come home with even more stuff. In the case of hen dos, there’s probably going to be leftover food and booze and perhaps some sort of fancy dress, matching T-shirt or grown-up party bag (note — if you’re the bride, you should just take an extra suitcase, or perhaps an extra car/book an extra train or plane seat, for all the extra stuff you’re going to come home with). In the case of horses, even if you resist the urge to shop at the show, by the time you’ve used all your tack, clothes and horsecare gear, it seems to have magically expanded…
8. Make-up and hair removal are needed to get the participants ready for action and looking their best. Need we say more?
9. Don’t forget the water. Horses need water. Apparently people do too… woman cannot live on alcohol alone.
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10. Photos are a vital part of the whole experience — and putting them on social media afterwards. We’re all suckers for a lovely picture of our pony, whether taken by ourselves, our mum or the professional photographer. And no hen do is complete without plenty of photos of the bride and her gals.
11. But most of all, they’re a whole lot of fun! We wouldn’t swap our horses for the world and a girly weekend away — or just a day or a night — can be just the tonic that’s needed amidst the humdrum of everyday life.
P.S The points above may well apply to stag dos too. But the writer cannot vouch for this from personal experience.
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