If you’ve got your own horse, you probably watch your nearest and dearest doing things like having lie-ins at weekends, paying for manicures and booking two-week holidays abroad with something akin to amazement. How can they afford it, you wonder? How do they have the time? Do non-horsey types actually have nails they can file, then?
The simple answer is that they don’t own a bank account-draining, nail-breaking creature that takes up every spare waking moment and costs them a fortune in rugs, of course. But we wouldn’t swap our horses for the world. Here’s why…
1. We all secretly believe we’re the next Charlotte Dujardin/Scott Brash/Pippa Funnell
OK, so the only rosette you’ve ever won was for ‘best turned out’ in a gymkhana when you were 10, and if you’re honest, you were sixth out of a class of six. Even so, you know you could be a serious contender, if only you had a string of competition horses, a multi-million pound company sponsoring you and an Olympic-standard yard in Gloucestershire. It’s only the lack of these things that’s holding you back. Life is just so unfair sometimes.
2. Horses make every other hobby seem just a little bit dull
There’s no other sport where you’re expected to control half a tonne of free-thinking animal complete with four other legs, not including your own. Wheels don’t count – even Formula One is, well, formulaic and predictable compared to riding horses. Skiing or snowboarding is probably the closest non-riders get to either the adrenalin rush of competing successfully or the cruisy feeling of a lovely hack on a beautiful day, but even so – nah. Once the riding bug has bitten, there’s no way that skiing, hiking, fishing or cycling will provide an adequate substitute. As for golf – really, what is that all about? Baffling.
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3. Horsey shopping is a lot more fun than human shopping
There is nothing more depressing than trying to squeeze into a pair of size 12 jeans in H&M, and discovering your thighs have apparently doubled in size overnight and you can’t even get them up to your knees. Don’t sweat it, it’s happened to us all. With horsey shopping, you can pick out funky-coloured boots, bandages and rugs to your heart’s content, secure in the knowledge that your horse will look super-cool, and won’t suddenly decide in two days time that he looks fat in them and insist you take them back, only you can’t because you’ve lost the receipt. The only damage done is to your bank account, not your ego. Win – right?
4. Riding is fantastic exercise
Some ignorant people say the horse does all the work. Clearly, these people have never attempted to exercise a horse that’s just not up for it. They’ve never ridden cross-country or done an endurance ride that tests stamina as well as skill. They’ve never sat a buck or rear, which not only requires nerves of steel, but excellent core strength. In short, they know not of what they speak. We should probably never tell them that some riding really is just pottering about while the horse does the actual work, though. They don’t need to know that.
5. Quite simply, our horses make us happy
And that’s what it’s all about.