This blog isn’t a follow on to the others. It’s just a few tales of various horses.
My mother used to say that you learn nothing from easy horses. These days I gotta tell you that I would have preferred to have remained uneducated. I suppose my first proper airborne catastrophe came courtesy of my aforementioned replacement angry orange polo pony LG. We were at Tidworth Barracks in the UK at the time.We hadn’t a bogs notion what we were at really so shovelling him full of oats and other rocket fuel was a greenhorn error. It’s a common practice in polo to ride one horse and lead three on either side of you. When I bought LG,he came with a warning that I must never fall off him because a few weeks previous when being ridden in this ride and lead format,LG lost his shit and buried his rider. It got complicated when seven horses fled the scene in an enormous parkland estate. The other ponies came fairly quietly,but not the bold LG. A day and night refusing to be caught when fully tacked up had them calling for the rifle but he did eventually let someone catch him. They were thrilled to see the back of him….can everyone shout ‘FENTONNNNN’…..
Anyway,LG came out of the yard,did some panoramic acrobatics and deposited me neatly at the feet of one of the officers stationed at Tidworth. The man looked at me with some fascination,awarded me a 10 for style,coughed and left.
Another candidate for creating havoc and broken bones was Cruise.Cruise was berserk. Totally batshit insane. He also had a major aversion to horse boxes of any type,especially getting into one. Not only did he bolt frequently when you rode him,he also did so on the ground. Being pretty small and light,I had no hope of sorting this out but a rider by the name of Heinz got pretty sick of the giant grey runaway doing laps of the lorry park unattended at every event with a small blonde girl in hopeless,asthmatic persuit.Heinz caught hold of Cruise one day and he refused to let go.Cruise bolted. Heinz flew through the air like a kite in the breeze but he wouldnt let go. Approximately 17 miles later,Cruise stopped. Heinz turned for home with his shoes on fire,walked the horse up the ramp and that,said he,was that. This battle wasn’t over yet though…..I used to train with a Danish rider called Kjeld Fredrickson and he ran clinics at Charlie Swan’s equestrian centre. I tacked up Cruise at home with boots and rugs on top. I was going to school cross country afterwards as Cruise had a serious problem with water. I led him out to load him,he whipped right and bolted,jumped the fence into our broodmares and took off. FOR FUCKS SAKE…..the only funny thing about it was that he was three quarters draught and the broodmares were thoroughbreds. He was galloping as hard as he could go after the mares,who were scarcely out of a trot and vastly amused at the carry on.
Anyway. I got the stupid FUCKER to Swans and did the lesson. Oh if only I had known what was coming next….
With a firm grip on my stick and neck strap,I headed out to the cross country course. Cruise got about two hundred metres from the water jump and immediately spun and bolted. What followed was a titanic battle of wills and a stamina grind like no other. For THREE HOURS he napped,he bolted,he tried to jump out onto Charlie Swan’s lawn. He reared and bucked. He even tried to lie down. His carry on was so spectacular that Charlie and Donald Swan sat out on the steps of the house and watched. I was so tired that I thought I would either die or fall off-both more attractive options than sitting on this fucking maniac. Eventually,the horse just stopped. Very slowly,he walked into the water. And that was that. Fixed of his water crisis. He never ever hesitated at water again.As I wearily made my way back to the yard,Charlie came over. He complimented me on my quiet persistence and offered me a job riding out. I might have been pleased,but I was too busy trying to not vomit…..
Probably the worst horse I have ever ridden was a chestnut Ashkalani gelding called Khudabad. A beautifully bred Aga Khan cast off,he showed a lot of promise winning a bumper at Naas and going well at Aintree. However,he was a horrible horse. He wouldn’t go onto the gallops without a lead and once he hit the sand it was no longer anything to do with you what happened. You would honestly have had more hope if you had lassoed a wild horse and put tack on it. He had no brakes,no steering,no acknowledgement that the person on his back was meant to be in charge or at least have some input. He terrified me and he was genuinely evil. His specialist subject was the bolt and buck. He would start to bolt and then start bucking. It got higher and faster and higher and faster until you had no hope. Whatever way he dispatched you,you always landed on your chin and chest and you always got whiplash. Its shameful to say but I was frankly delighted when the rotten pig broke down.
On reflection,I can’t say I learned anything from these horses except perhaps the most obvious thing of all-try to avoid fucked up horses with psychedelic imaginations and a fondness for panoramic views of the countryside. And get a frequent flyer card to your nearest A and E…..