Mere mention of the word “equestrian” can spark fear in a farmer’s heart.
It can be a window on a strange, incomprehensible (and expensive) world – full of creatures that bite and kick more than cattle and make even a sheep with a death wish seem like low-maintenance.
So if you think a school is where your kids go during the day, a colt is a type of gun and a rising trot is what happens after a curry, then you’ll probably agree with some of these points.
We consider some of the main (or should that be mane?) reasons why horses cause friction in the farmyard…
They don’t make any money
Farmers can’t get their heads around feeding and giving shed-room to an animal that doesn’t show a profit. No milk, no meat, no progeny to fatten and sell – all they seem to produce is muck.
“50 heifers wouldn’t chew-up the fields and leave gateways like a mudbath the way that *#$% horse does!”
Why, when it has the best pasture (“that could be fattening up some lambs”), does the horse stand and eat the fencing?
If it’s not eating it, it’s probably demolishing it by rubbing its backside against it.
Their sophisticated diet
The cows aren’t particular, nor are the sheep, and the pigs couldn’t be less choosey. But the horse… the horse must have fancy food, in intricate proportions. That doesn’t come cheap. “Can’t you give it some home-grown silage?”
You’ve had your best “going out” shoes since your first YFC dance, your workboots have been re-soled five times and there are plastic carrier bags inside your wellies. And as for the bull – he’s on his feet a hell of a lot and he doesn’t need half the attention that horse does.
The equestrian feature on the farm seems to smirk as it gets its new shoes, every six weeks, at a cost of £75 a go.
The slippery slope
One horse, especially if the family grows, will lead to those devils in disguise – ponies.
The lack of farm help
Where is everyone when you need them? In the stables or on a hack, most likely. You’ll just need a hand moving some pigs and they’ll all be off to some gymkhana.
The never-ending expenditure
Trailers, ménages, jodhpurs, tack, saddles, hats, competitions, feed bills, vet bills. They say you can’t put a price on happiness and apparently the horse is happy, but the bank balance is less so. Taking us seemingly back to complaint number 1…