Anyone who’s ever bought a new horse will discover two things. Firstly, you will experience buyer’s remorse, when you wake up in the dead of night in a cold sweat going, ‘Oh god, what have I done?’ This normally happens around two weeks after the horse arriving, when it suddenly dawns on the nag that, no, it’s not going back to its old stable and yes, you are its new owner. Having not put a hoof wrong until now, it decides it’s time to test your boundaries, New Mum! Oh, what fun you’ll have together.
The second thing you’ll discover is that the horse is not exactly as described. No horse ever is. Whether this is down to the old owner truly believing their horse to have the moves of Valegro combined with the sweet, generous nature of Mary Poppins, or simply that they decided to omit some of the more off-putting details from the horse’s sale advertisement, we will never truly know. ‘The devil’s in the detail,’ as the old saying goes, but when it comes to horse advertisements, it’s more a case of the details that are left out.
For example, Prince’s advert may have proudly boasted that he’s ‘good to clip, shoe and load,’ but what it didn’t mention was that he can destroy a rug quicker than Donald Trump going through a wind tunnel. It neglected to inform you that if you’re five minutes late with his morning feed, he starts banging on his stable door like the drummer from Def Leppard after a heavy night on the JD and Cokes.
It also made no reference to the fact that he’s quite happy to slither under electric fences like a limbo dancer – or failing that, simply to barge right through them, because what are a few electric shocks between friends anyway? The upshot is that you find him in a different field every morning, happily scoffing the grass he’s not allowed to have because of his laminitis (which was mentioned in the advert, but in code, as in ‘he’s a good doer.’ Greedy heffer, more like.)
And then there’s our old favourite, ‘not a novice ride.’ As you’re hurtling around the countryside, hauling ineffectually on the reins, yelling, ‘Stop Prince, for the love of God, stop!’ it dawns on you that what they actually meant by this wasn’t ‘not suitable for a complete beginner’ but ‘not suitable for anyone who isn’t already competing at BE Novice level.’
But don’t panic. Every horse has its little foibles, and once you’ve got them sussed, you’ll be able to take them in your stride. True, you may spend a lot of time on the internet researching horse-proof electric fencing, and swapping notes on Twitter with fellow rug-wrecker owners about the most indestructible brands of rug – but it’s all part of the fun. You’re a horse owner now – let the games begin!