Saturday, 20 August 2011

B is for Belcher

Barry: Siamese cat of Rita Palgrave (PO)

Bartsimpson: picturesque village – home of wealthy merchant bankers and dressage enthusiasts, Julian Cholmondeley and Christopher Brookes-Smythe (DE)

Maureen Belcher (Mrs.): Wife of Mervin and mother of Minerva. Former HR Manager at Vale of Vaysey Electricity where she met Mervin. Three passions in life: dressage, Celine Dion and pet labradors, Bonnie and Sally (DF)

Mervin Belcher: Husband of Maureen and father of Minerva. Former HR Manager at Vale of Vaysey Electricity. Keen dressage supporter. Resident at Donner Cottage, Pammy-under-Snood, Vale of Vaysey. Owner of pet labradors, Bonnie and Sally (DF)

Minerva Belcher (Miss): daughter of Mervin and Maureen. Gave up promising dressage career to cohabit with middle-aged gent's outfitter, Ken Braylee (DF).

Benny Hill: landmark in the leafy Vale of Vaysey overlooking the villages of Wibble, Nibble and Dibble to the north and Chalfonts to the south

The Best Friends: ( BF ) Penny Black and Rose Bush

Beyonce: skewbald pony of Bambi-Louise Penge (AP)

Bide-A-Wee Stables: Livery yard on the fringe of the Vale of Vaysey – former home of Norris. (

Bijou Blitzkrieg: Implausibly expensive pony of Dorinda Miggins (

Bits and Bobs: high class purveyor of riding habits and other items to the discerning equestrienne, owned in partnership by sisters, Joan and Betty Crumblewick. Located on the village green in Wibble, next to the off-licence (Sk)

Jack Black: husband of Penny. Keen mature Latin American dancer (BF)

Penny Black (Mrs.): wife of Jack and best friend and neighbour of Rose Bush in Wibble. Administrator at the Vale of Vaysey Cottage Hospital. Keen dancer, rider and judge. Owner of mare, D'Arcy in livery at Vaysey Pastures (BF)

Bonnie: black labrador, pet of Mervin and Maureen Belcher, named after Anky's Bonfire (DF).

Boris: show cob sold-on by Magenta Hayes. (UA)

Ken Braylee: Divorced, middle-aged gent's outfitter with own shop in Shipston Vaysey co-habiting with teenage beauty, Minerva Belcher (DF).

Brendan: young chestnut Irish draught cross thoroughbred with a blaise, four white socks and long eye-lashes misguidedly bought by novice Kevin Winkle. Soon parted company with his inexperienced new owner in a big way and was quickly sold on to a team chaser near Lutterworth. (LS)

Brian: show cob once owned by Magenta Hayes (UA)

Broadhint: larger village popular with the Vale’s tourists with many tea and antique shops in it High Street - including that of Roy de la Mare. Home of farrier Kirk McGurk (FF)

Christopher Brookes-Smythe: Wealthy merchant banker, dressage enthusiast, livery at Vaysey Pastures, partner of Julian Cholmondeley. Resident in Bartsimpson ( DE)

George Bush: husband of Rose. Keen veteran Latin American dancer (BF)

Rose Bush (Mrs.): wife of George and best friend of Penny Black. Resides in Wibble. Administrator at the Vale of Vaysey Cottage Hospital. Keen dancer, rider and judge. Owner of mare, Margot in livery at Vaysey Pastures ( BF)

Buying and selling a horse: Over the years Bunty Pargeter has seen many of her liveries make every mistake in the book when it comes to acquiring or disposing of horses. Ambition fostered by success or despondency triggered by failure prompts many riders to buy or sell a horse. For some like Tiffany Lampwick it's a dispassionate exercise, whilst for others it is a deeply upsetting and stressful experience.

In addition to the emotional side of things, it's a jungle out there - whether in darkest
Solihull or the deepest Cotswolds – so here are some of Bunty's thoughts on the process.

Truth: as in war, truth seems to be the first casualty of horse sales. Be cautious and expect a tissue of lies throughout; then you will only run the risk of being pleasantly surprised.

Names: many riders feel it is unlucky to change the name of a horse following purchase. Like tattoos, names are a matter of personal taste and may deter a buyer. Think twice before calling your pride and joy anything off-putting, such as Baby Jesus, Mr Ploppy or Satan.

Vetting: always have a horse vetted before purchase. It’s a false economy to take a flier. Also think about issues such as teeth, back and feet. Your vet should give a steer on these matters, but you may need extra specialist advice.

Inspection: insist on viewing the horse without tack in and out of the stable. Walk and trot in hand and pick out feet yourself. An extra pair of eyes is very useful to check claims of soundness. Note surroundings and routine on the yard; containers of sedative or calming remedies are not a good sign.Test ride: always ask to watch the owner ride first. Try riding the horse in the manege, on a hack and doing activities you are likely to be involved in - including jumping. When riding a strange horse be particularly careful – for yourself and the horse - since he may be more lively than you anticipate. Always ask questions and wear a hard hat. If at any point the horse leaves the arena, takes off or tries to kill you, it’s not encouraging.

Loan prior to purchase: is an ideal way of ensuring that the horse is suited to you and vice versa. Loan arrangements should be recorded in writing and clearly understood.

Manners: Keep appointments to view punctually, return photos or videos and give fair notice if you can’t attend or – sellers - if the horse has been sold. As Nanny always said, “Do as you would be done by”.

Wanted – confidence giver: Be careful if you advertise for “a reliable cobby schoolmaster for nervous novice for RC activities”. You will be inundated with offers of deranged ex racing thoroughbred chestnut mares. It’s as irresponsible as touting a Lotus Elan to a learner who could only cope with a Fiat Uno. It may be legal, but it’s just not right or fair.

Advert-speak: experience leads one to place a cynical spin on the jargon or weasel words often used in adverts.Sales are invariably “sad”, “genuine” and “reluctant”, occasionally “devastating” and forced by emigration, uni, pregnancy, work commitments or lack of time.

Overworked phrases include:·

Has seen hounds” – the owner once wore a Deputy Dawg tee shirt·
Not a novice ride” – beware, this horse is dangerous and might be better off in a rodeo·
Scopey jump” – fasten your seat belt·
Can be fizzy” – light the blue touch paper and retire (probably, hurt)·
Paces to die for” – one hopes not·
re-advertised due to time-wasters” – the previous advert may have gilded the lily somewhat; in any event, I won’t budge on price and am not to be messed with·
school master” – the holy grail of the prospective purchaser and about as difficult to locate. A genuine “bomb-proof” one is as rare as hen’s teeth and valuable beyond rubies

Cheque or cash: need you ask?

Subject to all this, good luck in finding your dream horse.

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