Saturday, 20 August 2011

I is for Irritations

Irritations: Some riders are fortunate enough to own some land and keep their horse at home. For most this is a never-to–be–achieved dream, leaving one to rely upon commercial livery.

Like all communities, whether boarding schools, the army, holiday camps, prisons or hotels, livery yards vary in cost, quality of facilities and general atmosphere.

Naturally, practical concerns such as the health and safety of the horse and owner are paramount in assessing the merits of any yard.

However, the overall "feel" comes close to the top of the list. This makes the difference between the establishment resembling a prison’s punishment wing or a jolly place where one happily chooses to spend precious quality time and a good chunk of taxed income.

The main difference between heaven and hell is the people – the other liveries and even some staff. Fortunately not all yards - even Vaysey Pastures - feature the irritations mentioned below; some yards may not even feature any at all, in which case count your blessings and enjoy.      
Here are the ten things in the horse world and on livery yards that irritate most:

Toppers: if you have just had a vet’s bill for £1,000, it’s nothing…their last one was £3,000.  
Slovenliness: some liveries never clear their horse’s droppings from the school, wash-box or around the yard, close gates or lock tack rooms.

Pothunters: often enter competitions several levels below their horse’s true ability and spend much time around the yard expressing surprise that they have yet again waltzed off with the red rosettes.

Kleptomaniacs: those from whom no tack, equipment or personal possession is safe.

Critics: rarely express a positive opinion of your horse or performance – especially to your face.  
Chestnut-tinted spectacles: the uncontrollable thoroughbred that kicks, bites and threatens is sweet, sensitive and misunderstood.

Contradictors: anything you say about horses (or anything, really) will be laughably wrong.

Megalomaniacs: do not indulge in conversation, as such; any words you succeed in uttering
constitute dead time before the broadcast resumes regarding "little old me and my lovely pony."

The Old Guard: be very afraid of the coven in the common room dissecting victims over coffee and Silk Cut. No names, no pack drill of course - but think of Vaysey Pastures' own Patsy Pottle, Rita Palgrave and the Crumblewick sisters.

Stroppy staff: Think - Enid Possett: never use their equipment or impede access to water, hay or muck heap. The permanently inserted mobile or personal stereo earphone equates to the hoodie or veil; it says do not communicate, bother me, interrupt or invade my space. It is your fault that they are doing a job they dislike and entirely irrelevant that your livery pays their, admittedly low, wages.  
Fortunately it will be a fairly grim day for a livery to encounter all the above sterling qualities at once, but one or two isn't too far fetched.

It's not much different to communities such as boarding schools or prisons and maybe it's best to be forewarned and forearmed.

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