Writing about horses special: the pick of HTWB

Do you love horses and horse riding? So do I … or at least I did before health problems made it nearly impossible for me to ride any more. Never mind.

As you can imagine I’ve experienced some amazing stories over my decades of horse riding: here is my pick of them…

Horses on How To Write Better

Me on Irish Draught mare “Willow” and son Tom on Welshie Section A “Taffy” just back from a hack in our English winter

In these articles I’ve shared some of the funniest and loveliest moments of my horse riding days

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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…

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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: 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…]

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