Daily Wail: FFS get horse jargon right (and dump the ancient clichés)

Daily Mail,horses,jargon,writing,cliches

Suze with a mighty, trusted steed sporting white stripes all over the place,
white ankles to match, cool black leather boots and subtle hair extensions
to enhance its glossy mane.
ZZZzzzzz. (Suze is on the left.)

Being a horsey type I often cringe at the “popular” media’s ideas on how to describe, er, an actress who rides a horse over a few fences. In this particular case, though, the UK’s Daily Mail really does take first prize for the most asinine and ridiculous use of what its writers think is the way to talk about horses.

Needless to say this is not the first time I have ranted on here about the most stupid ways in which journalists mislead and belittle those of us in the horsey world who get increasingly fed up with the old-fashioned clichés used to describe a sports culture which is huge in many countries.

And we’re not talking horse racing or snotty fox hunters here. We’re talking genuine competitive sports – much more intricate and demanding sports – that work for people from right across the socio-economic spectrum.

The vast majority of horse owners in western countries are not rich or privileged. They are working people who often need to sustain two or more jobs just to pay for their beloved horses’ keep, so they can enjoy the camaraderie and opportunities to compete and test their achievements that are out there, now, for everyone to enjoy.

So when we get patronizing, ignorant drivel being published by a so-called “popular” newspaper such as the UK’s Daily Mail that attempts to belittle what the the 3 million or so private horse owners in the UK are doing (plus their equivalents in the US and many other countries) … well, it makes me angry.

To illustrate my points…

Here are a few quotes from a recent article in the Daily Mail about the antics of the undoubtedly equine-friendly actress, Kaley Cuoco, who was photographed putting a nice-looking horse over a few fences the other day. And here, too, are my own growling comments based on quotes from that utterly ridiculous article…

Kaley Cuoco demonstrated her impressive show jumping skills yet again as she saddled up on Thursday. In the UK, and the DM is supposed to be a UK news resource, you don’t “saddle up:” you “tack up.” No doubt the DM is cosying up to US audiences once again.

With her trusty steed apparently out of action, the Big Bang Theory favourite was partnered up with an equally gorgeous chestnut equine beauty with a white stripe on its head, black flanks and white ankles, a long glossy mane and tail. Let’s skip over the “trust steed” cliché for now. But doh … the horse is a bright bay in color, not a chestnut (sorrel in the US) and the “white stripe” is a blaze. Horses don’t have ankles: they have fetlocks. But you got one bit right – they do have manes and tails.

Though her fears are perfectly understandable, especially seeing as she was riding a different horse than normal, not to mention the fact that she broke her leg in an unfortunate riding accident in 2010. Never mind that this sentence is grammatically wrong, she wouldn’t be riding this horse over fences if she was anything other than confident.

Nervous? However, as she approached some of the more challenging barriers, the star wore a look of fear mixed with pure exhaustion on her face They’re fences, not barriers, stupid. And in the photo (can’t share it here because of copyright issues) her facial expression shows concentration, not fear and exhaustion. Get a grip, you media hype-mongers.

She certainly looked the part in her full equestrian get-up, which consisted of dark brown jodhpurs, black leather knee-high boots which were decidedly dusty from the terrain… They aren’t jodhpurs, they’re breeches. The knee-high boots are probably ankle boots with matching half-chaps or gaiters, and of course they look dusty, you nitwit. She didn’t get hoisted on to the saddle by cherry picker so we must assume she walked through some dust to get there. Zzzzzz.

She donned a black helmet as she competed on the challenging course, while she also wore black leather gloves and carried a matching crop. Of course she “donned” a black helmet: not because it was a “challenging course” (it wasn’t) but because no-one other than a utter nincompoop would get on a horse without a helmet.

Back in the saddle: Any nerves wouldn’t be unwarranted, seeing as the star was riding a different horse than usual and the fact that she suffered a broken leg in a riding accident in 2010. Bullsh*t. You don’t jump a horse around a course of fences unless you’re pretty confident in the partnership, whether it’s your usual ride or not. (And don’t be lazy – why not come up with original captions rather than lifting lines out of the body text?)

The back-up plan: The 28-year-old regularly shares photos of her beloved horse Thor, even posting a video just last week of the pair doing some practise jumps, however, the gelding was apparently out of action come Thursday, resulting in this equally gorgeous steed filling in. Gorgeous steed … oh, perleeeze. He’s a nice looking bay horse. Enough with milking a rather weak photo opportunity already. And “steed?” We know the Daily Mail’s main audience is in the age range of 50+ but how many 21st century readers would refer to a horse as a “steed?” How many of them would even know what a “steed” is?

When two become one: The pair looked like they’d been riding together for years, moving in perfect unison, making it over even the trickiest of fences with ease. For starters the pair wouldn’t have been riding together, but never mind that. Much as your writers want to find high drama in this story those fences weren’t high, or tricky. Get a grip and learn what “horse jumping” is really all about.

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,howtowritebetter.net, how to write bettIf you’re a horsey type please comment. And even if you aren’t, please share your views on these awful, groaning clichés that make us all grind our teeth, no matter what our hobbies and activities are!

 

Writing about, er, donkeys! Bravo, Benjy

 

A short and totally true story of how we can learn so much about relationships from children and animals…

freeimage-1844359-webAt the farm where I kept my horse, there were two donkeys. One of them, Benjy, was very fearful of humans – with some justification, as he was a victim of cruelty and mistreatment before the farmer rescued him from his former home.

Even when I walked into the field brandishing carrots in my hand, Benjy wouldn’t approach. Although the other donkey trotted up to me expectantly, Benjy would hang back well out of range, longing to come forward but held back by his fear of what might happen next. If he was approached by someone he didn’t know, he became defensive and would bite or kick rather than let himself be caught. [Read more…]

Writing about horses: Her Majesty’s gallop

small__8201075602There can’t be many riders who have received official permission to gallop a horse in Richmond Park (London, England.)  This is no ordinary park, you understand; it is one of England’s Royal parks, and as such is as important as the Tower of London or even Shakespeare. And yet I was one of the privileged few…for entirely inappropriate reasons… [Read more…]

Writing about horses: social horseworking

“Walk on, Q,” I smiled through gritted teeth, putting my leg on hard as the horse tried to stop by an  elderly rustic gentleman and his terrier, both of whom grinned up at me knowingly. “Walk on!”

Strangest thing, I thought. An old friend here in rural England had asked me to hack out this horse, a strapping young 4-year-old who ordinarily put whole new meaning into the term “forward going.”

medium_503570292Pushing 17 hands of solid Irish Draft / TB crossed muscle, Q was not what you would call a slouch. [Read more…]

Writing about horses: why stallions should have their teeth extracted

medium_340848452“Oh, you little b*stard,” I shouted as the stallion’s jaws snapped shut around my shoulder blade for the umpteenth time that evening – each time, in fact, that I walked past his box pushing a barrow as I mucked the horses out.

I tried tiptoeing. I tried crawling along so my head was level with the barrow handles. I tried giving his box a wide berth by pushing my barrow along the grass beyond the concrete path. But each time he was waiting for me, and despite being a horse he had a neck like a giraffe and jaws built on an extending gantry system… [Read more…]

Writing about horses: surely ewe are joking?

small__8644933753“B*gger off!” I screamed at this particularly large and pesky ewe. Day after day she would hang around while the horses were eating their feeds out in the field and no sooner had one come up for air for two seconds than the great white woolly head would zoom down into the feed bowl.

“You great wimps!” I’d yell to the horses who would just stand there, staring meaningfully at me to do something about it.

Usually shouting and stamping of feet and the odd Greek expletive (only words I ever manage to learn in a foreign language) would get rid of her but on this one occasion nothing would budge the woolly head.  [Read more…]

css.php