It’s all very well reading Horse & Hound and drooling over the high-stepping equine dressage divas but — if you’re being honest — they might not be the most practical choice. In reality, there’s nothing to beat a good family horse; this Mr Dependable of the horse world might not be a world beater, but he’s worth his weight in gold.
5 reasons we can always count on Frank the family horse
1. Handsome is as handsome does
While he may not have perfect conformation or the sort of movement which makes Carl Hester go misty-eyed, you can rely on Frank to keep soldiering on without heart-stopping vet bills or lengthy periods on box rest. Built to last, this family horse is never on the subs bench.
2. Being led in from the field by the smallest human? Not a problem
Frank’s generally happy to spend his days mooching about in the paddock or discovering whether it actually is possible to coat every inch of himself in mud. However, going out for a hack or the odd day out at a show suits just as well — and so when the smallest child in the family insists on catching him and bringing him in, well, that’s no problem either. After all, manners maketh the Frank.
3. When life gets in the way
It’s a sad fact of life that, much as we would like to spend every minute with our horses, work and school does get in the way. Before you know it, that New Year’s resolution to ride at least three times a week is a distant memory and the tack has a rather dusty look to it. Fortunately, Frank doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fizzy’ and so, after you’ve spent a precious hour unearthing your horse from beneath a crusted mud layer a warthog would be proud of, you can enjoy your ride in peace.
4. Jumping? Yes, but let’s not get carried away…
The latest round of the Global Champions Tour has been on TV and you’re feeling inspired. Boots polished and Frank loaded on the wagon, you head off to your local arena for a spot of showjumping. OK, it’s only the 80cm, but a rosette would be good (and a red one would be great!) so that means speed and handbrake turns in the jump-off, right? Wrong — Frank is quite happy to leave the jumps up, but leaving his jockey on the floor is another matter, and he remembers only too well what happened last time he indulged your Ben Maher fantasies.
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5. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt
Frank the family horse may not be the youngest gelding on the block, but what he hasn’t done isn’t worth doing. With a CV as long as his back and a waiting list of potential owners to match, nothing fazes Frank. Hacking down a busy main road? Piece of cake! Taking Granny hunting? No problem. A week at Pony Club camp (including being the four-legged volunteer for bandaging practice by 30 over-excited children)? Be my guest. Because Frank knows that what he might lack in star quality, he makes up for in spades with reliability and that is what matters in a true family horse.