The hypochondriac horse and its poor owner
Every horse owner is all-too familiar with that sinking feeling you get when your beloved steed comes limping up to the gate and hobbles to his stable as if he’s got a leg hanging off. His head’s drooping, and he’s not touching his hay. He’s a horse in terrible agony, and he wants everyone to know it.
Desperately worried, you ring the vet. It’s clearly an emergency so you’ll just have to suck up the eye-wateringly expensive out-of-hours call-out fee.
The vet rushes to the scene and examines Prince, only to proclaim that he’s probably just bruised his sole on a stone in the field. At which Prince perks up and starts eating his hay.
Prince, you realise, is just a massive diva.
That’s not to say that all horses spend their days plotting how to empty their owners’ bank account while simultaneously getting themselves out of work (or at least that’s how it feels, if you’re the owner of one of these divas). Some horses are genuinely accident-prone idiots, the sort that spend their days hooning round the field with their mates, seeing how many shoes they can lose, rugs they can destroy, and rabbit holes they can get their feet stuck in.
Others can do a suspensory simply by standing in their field, munching grass.
And if you’re the owner of a horse that seems to be on box rest most of the year, costing you a fortune in hay and bedding while the eventing season flies past, it can be pretty frustrating.
That’s when you may consider turning to social media for suggestions. It seems like such a good idea – Prince has had colic a few times, and you’re thinking of changing his feed in case it’s something to do with that. What, you think, could be wrong with asking Twitter how other horse owners cope with a similar problem?
‘How could you even think of feeding him hard feed? Are you trying to KILL him?’ reads the first Tweet.
‘I’m not judging, but you’re totally the worst owner ever who shouldn’t be in charge of so much as a hamster,’ reads the next.
‘You need to get him scoped, x-rayed and re-backed by a top trainer,’ advises another. ‘What do you mean, you haven’t got a few thousand spare pounds in the bank? If you can’t afford horses, you shouldn’t have them!’
After an hour of this, you’ve deleted yourself off Twitter and gone to lie in a darkened room, weeping softly to yourself.
Don’t think your yard mates will have any better advice, either. You’ll be bombarded with it, sure – but it will all totally contradict each other, leaving you wondering whether, actually, getting rid of the horse and just getting a hamster isn’t such a bad idea after all.
But stick with the horse. It might seem like he’s constantly on box rest, but the reality is, it’s only a tiny part of your partnership together, and the rest of the time, you’re out having fun, competing, and exploring the beautiful British countryside together.
Anyway, hamsters are boring. So there!