Christmas is nearly upon us, and there’s only a little time left to shop for that perfect gift for the characters on the yard. What to get for whom? Here are a few ideas:
Every yard has one. Whatever the problem, she’s had it and solved it — and the problem was worse, the cure was better than anyone else’s. She’ll tell you all about it at the drop of a riding hat.
Perfect Christmas present: a mirror — so she can see her favourite expert.
The flashy one
She arrives at the yard in a Mercedes, although she lives in the swanky house a few minutes’ walk down the road. Her horse is a Thoroughbred, with blue blood. She has all the top kit — Stübben saddle, daaahling — and all the best clothes. But she pays someone else to look after the horse and to ride it.
Perfect present: My Little Pony — at least she can look after that herself.
If there’s any juicy tittle-tattle going round the yard, you know exactly who started its spread. She has ears everywhere, this one, and a knack of wheedling out tiny bits of information from everyone.
Perfect present: a digital recorder — so she can defend herself in slander cases.
The tight-fisted one
You all club together to have the occasional pizza-and-wine evening and you can guarantee this fellow will point out who had an extra glass of wine or a pudding. It’s rumoured that he bought someone a drink in 1983 but this has never been verified.
Perfect present: Nothing — let him buy something for himself with all the money he’s saved.
The selfie queen
Whatever you’re doing, on a horse or off, you can guarantee she’ll be there, sticking her iPhone where it’s not wanted — together with her smug, over-made-up face. There is no situation too basic for her to take yet another selfie.
Perfect present: a selfie stick — of course she’s already got one; you’re being passive-aggressive.
The ambitious one
You know the type. He enters every competition with the same fierce concentration, whether it’s unaffiliated dressage or an advance medium qualifier. It’s not about taking part, it’s about winning.
Perfect present: a corkboard — so he can display all his rosettes.
If you’re missing a bridle, a brush or a bandage, the chances are the borrower’s had it. They always seem to have plenty of kit of their own, but they can’t help half-inching someone else’s property.
Perfect present: Everything you want — so you can borrow it.
The mumsy one
When you’re feeling a bit low — because the darn horse has dumped you or the dressage judge is blind — she will always be there with hugs and sympathy and sometimes gin. And she always makes you feel better.
Perfect present: an enormous box of chocolates — so she knows that she’s valued.
The bored one
Usually a boyfriend; occasionally a girlfriend. Brought along by the horsey other half and bored to death. Not interested in horses (poor soul) but trying to fit in. Hangs around asking dumb questions: “Why do you put a rug on it?” “Doesn’t it mind all that metal in its mouth?”
Perfect present: a horse-riding manual — so at least (s)he stops with the questions.
The selfless one
The reason you’re having a lie-in on Christmas Day is because this wonderful person has offered to do morning stables.
Perfect present: anything she wants — you couldn’t do without her.