“He’s like a horse” I slurred to my best friend about his latest boyfriend, “You have to chuck him out into a field for a year. He is too young and too STOOPID. Let someone else do the hard work. You don’t have time for this crap, another young horse, UGH, seriously we are getting old, it is enough.”
“Why does it always come back to bloody horses,” he muttered back, not disputing it, but rather affirming that horses just continue to give us the best analogies of our chaotic adult lives. “Don’t you have a nice one for me to ride?” I stopped wondering what we were discussing and poured another glass of wine.
Having done a lot of both horse shopping and partner shopping (for myself and others) I think it is high time we talk about the sordid, inherently dishonest, emotional rollercoaster that is buying horses (or Tinder, same same) and the valuable life lessons we can use elsewhere:
1. If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It DEFINITELY Is
You should ALWAYS look a gift horse in the mouth, for two reasons - first, no one gives a horse away unless there is something wrong with it, and secondly, buying is the cheap part and successfully maintaining a stressful piece of crap is harder. Admittedly, sometimes it takes a long time to find out why this particular partner was so readily available, and you cannot be blamed for that. But when disappointment becomes a recurring experience, don’t keep clinging to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time (and money) making it.
2. Compromise - It Sucks, And It Is Essential
The reality is that when buying a horse, you can only have four: affordable, sound, sensible, talented or educated. Dating is pretty much the same, so you need to choose what swings you will sacrifice for which roundabouts. Are you happy to have good-looking, but spooks at plastic bags (intellectual conversations and commitment) or would you prefer a schoolmaster who will look after you but break down with hard riding? There are no right or wrong answers, and no one else can decide for you. They will completely judge you for whatever you decide, so whatever you choose must make one person happy - and that person is YOU.
3. Horses For Courses
Many of my friends are happily married to lovely people. Many of my friends own perfectly lovely horses. OH HOW I WISH I WANTED THE NICE PLAIN BAY WHO NEVER OVERREACTS. Life would be so simple, but the reality is that I want neither their spouses nor their rides, and this is because there is just no accounting for chemistry. A horse can look great on paper, but time and time again I see people trying what should be the perfect match for them and it doesn’t work. Chemistry is weird, guys. You can’t buck it, and if you don’t want the ride you can’t make it happen. Forcing a connection guarantees that you will forever be looking for a way out.
4. But A Good Ride Is Not Everything
Likewise it is common to see people making BAD decisions for themselves because they like the big snorty stallion. Can confirm based on personally experience that this is both understandable and stupid. Just as you would (hopefully) listen to your coach, vet, friends, farrier, etc over your pure horse-lust, so should we listen to friends who baulk upon meeting our latest giant red flag who is very pretty to look at. End it, immediately. HAHA, just kidding… everyone knows we are FAR MORE LIKELY to buy it for too much money, get bucked off repetitively, spend a lot of time and money to stay in the lowest possible grade and then finally give up and take up tennis. Keep the friends who don’t judge you for this too harshly.
5. Be Careful What They Don’t Mention
...and be careful what they do. I always find oddly specific ads very suspicious, for example: “Lovely horse for sale, 10yo but treat him like a 4yo.” “Lovely free movement, definitely not prone to jumping out of the paddock and showing it off down the main road.” Likewise, “Looking for REAL love,” “School of Hard Knocks,” “No more crazies please,” and “It’s complicated” are all very alarming alarm bells. Do not swipe right, do not match, do not pass go.
6. And What They Don’t Photograph
Six photos of the canter and none of the trot? Videos of jumping carefully laid out lines but no courses? Great conformation pics from the knees up? No photos without a cap or sunglasses or a filter? Yeah. You should ask for that.
7. No Time Wasters
I had someone come try a horse recently and after three rides they decided not to take the horse because it was fifteen years old (mentioned in the advert) and because the buyer was pregnant (I imagine she knew this). While I believe if #3 had been powerful enough it might have ended differently, I was annoyed for the owner, the groom, myself, her coaches, other buyers, etc at the blatant waste of time for reasons that were already known. Similarly, I am seriously going to invoice my next Tinder date for make-up and Uber when I discover they are a Flat Earther.
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE PLEASE VISIT PAGE 34 OF THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE:
CONTENT CREDIT: Georgie Roberts (The Off Side)
IMAGE CREDIT: Unsplash