When the temperatures are plummeting below zero, the mud is knee high and we haven't seen the yard in daylight for months, it's important to remind ourselves just why we are proud to be British...
1. Grit and determination
A face full of mud? A few broken ribs? No problem. Brits seem to have a uniquely gung-ho approach to life — and never more so than when it comes to horses. We’re undecided whether it’s stern Pony Club DCs, native ponies with no moral compass or the weather that we have to thank…
2. The Queen
The epitome of point one. And the envy of the world. She adds verve to Royal Ascot with outfits so vibrant they have punters placing their bets on her colour choice — and equally to Royal Windsor, clad in Wellington boots and her signature headscarf.
3. The weather
Bear with us here. Let’s put the rainfall (and accompanying mud) to one side, and focus on the picture perfect changes of seasons. Think rustling autumnal leaves and springtime blossom that lifts your spirits even as you slog around the field poo-picking.
For those of us introduced to this sport aboard something so hairy you’re unsure where the tummy ends and the legs start — we will have mixed emotions about natives (see point one). But we’ve all survived to tell the tale — and your affection for our hardy native breeds (both little and large) will last a lifetime.
Nothing makes you want to burst into a rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’ than the sound of a hunting horn (and the sight of immaculately turned-out hunt staff and followers)…
6. Culinary delights
…an experience enhanced with a hot sausage roll and a swig of something equally hearty from your hip flask. And on the subject of food, could there be anything more rewarding than a bacon sarnie lathered in ketchup after your early morning showjumping? (French cuisine has nothing on that…)
7. Flagship events
There’s a reason that eventers move across the world to base themselves in Britain. This is where it’s at. And if it means travelling 9,443 miles to get within sniffing distance of the Badminton and Burghley trophies, then so be it.
8. Medals galore
Call us glory hunters, but it’s not hard to wave your Union Flag (or paint your nails red, white and blue) when you have Nick Skelton shedding a tear on the podium in Rio, or Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro gracing the front covers of newspapers across the country.
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9. Priorities, priorities
Emergency services are deployed to rescue horses in sticky situations, we make Christmas wreaths out of carrots for stable doors, we forfeit holidays in the name of competitions, we dedicate social media accounts to our horses and we talk about them like they are our, well, children. What we’re trying to say is: we have our priorities right.