Hello horse people.
CC2 got a new pony magazine yesterday. I’ve no idea where it came from by the way — like all (the cheaper) horse-related things around the house, it sort of just materialised, so I’m assuming CC1 bought it for her.
From what I’ve gleaned from my time living with the two of them, there are effectively three tiers of horse magazine. The first is the introductory rung – these are called things like ‘My Gorgeous Fluffy Ponykins’ and are just full of shit photos people have sent in of their fluffy ponies with bows in their hair. And ‘how-to’ guides entitled ‘How to stroke your pony for 8 hours without killing it’. These are aimed at very young girls of course, maybe up to about 10.
The second tier is the junior rung for girls who are big girls now and well above all that fluffy shit — or at least claim to be. They’re called far more serious things like ‘My Pony’ and are now full of shit photos people have sent in of their pony jumping over poles suspended 1mm above the ground by two strong ants. And ‘how-to’ guides entitled ‘How to plait a mane using shiny ribbons’. These are aimed at older girls up to their early teens.
The third tier is the senior rung for grown-ups, or thereabouts, and are no-nonsense. They’re simply called things like ‘Horse’ and are full of shit photos people have sent in of themselves jumping over comedy windmills at eventing events. And ‘how-to’ guides entitled ‘How to clean all the disgusting encrusted stuff off your stallion’s pony nuts’. These are aimed at actual adults and aspirational teenagers.
CC2 has moved from tier 1 to tier 2 in the last couple of years. And, weirdly, reading them is one of the few things left she actually likes doing with me, now that activities like spending time together and conversation are beneath her. Normally of course, reading would best be conducted in her room, with door shut and music played through the tinny speakers of a phone, just because she knows it’ll annoy me and that I’ll point out we have a perfectly good stereo downstairs etc and generally sound like an old man from the 1950s.
But the horse magazine is best enjoyed in my company for two solid reasons. The first is that she can point out all the things she’d like me to buy her… for birthdays, Christmas, or just because it’s a Thursday. With Christmas coming up (well, it’s not even December, but kids don’t work like that. Come to think of it, nor does CC1 who’s been badgering me to get all the Christmas shit down from the loft since the clocks changed). Sorry, that bracketed bit went on for so long I’ve had to pretend the last sentence just finished, so I’ll start again.
With Christmas coming up, she made me take photos of a whole load of nag-related tat featured in various articles, lists and adverts while issuing barked instructions like ‘Make sure you get the text in with the correct colour listed’. It’s quite sweet in a way that as she’s in that sort of in-between age between being a kid and a teenager, she’s started taking herself extremely seriously but still falls back to being a little baby without realising it.
So this evening’s additions to the Christmas list were a ring (shaped like stirrups, but jewellery all the same like what grown-ups wear), a new naghat (because protection is a serious business) and then a onesie with a unicorn on the front, because she’s still about six, deep down.
I was relieved to find out in the ensuing conversation that she’s now gone off the particular brand of incredibly expensive naghat she’s been coveting for the last couple of years and now favours something else I hadn’t heard of. “Excellent,” I said, “that’ll save me a fortune!” “Oh, that’s where you’re wrong!” she replied, her eyes glittering with pleasure. I’ll have to google the new brand later, I don’t feel up to it just yet.
The second, and even better reason she likes reading these magazines with me nearby is so she can test me on my horse knowledge and therefore belittle me as much as possible. It’s like her two favourite hobbies combined into one. The magazine will normally have at least one quiz of some kind, but she doesn’t stop there and will casually flip through the pages before seeing something suitably well out of my sphere of knowledge and demand an answer to a made-up question.
“What brand of hat is that?!” she demanded last night, pointing to a photo of someone in the far distance presumably riding a horse. “Oh.. er… Sam Gatehouse? Er… KAP? Er… Benson & Hedges? PJ & Duncan?”
She looked at me with a mixture of pity and disgust. “No, it’s a Charles Owen,” she declared haughtily. “Oh. Isn’t he an actor?” Pity, disgust and confusion.
A few pages on, she found an advert for some horse rug, covered the price with her hand and asked me how much it would cost. “Er.. a hundred thousand pounds?” I ventured. No, she sneered, it’s not even a winter rug, it’s only a lightweight technomesh neoprene performance rug with a liquid centre. “Oh. Er… TWO hundred thousand then?” She just grunted and flicked to the next page with an immense amount of disdain.
But then we came to a quiz and her little eyes lit up. Now she could not only embarrass me but actually score my level of ignorance and inadequacy with pinpoint accuracy. “Right!” she announced, “If you get more than half of these right you don’t have to buy me that unicorn onesie.” “But I don’t anyway!” I shot back with a little bit of high-pitched desperation in my voice. “Oh yes you do-hooo!” she sang without even looking up at me.
So, first question with everything to play for. “Which month is the Burghley horse trials held? September, October or November?” Oh FFS, how the fuck am I supposed to know that? I pick a random month. September. She doesn’t answer but her slight grunt under her breath as she looks back down at the page means I assume I guessed right.
Next question. “Where do you measure a horse’s height from?” Easy — the ground! Not even a flicker of a smile. Wrong. One out of two.
“Which horse did Charlotte of the Garden ride to her bronze medal at the World Equestrian Games?” Well, Valegro of course. It’s always Valegro. Wrong! A different horse entirely, Mount St George or something. Who knew? So she has two horses eh? Pretty flash.
And so it went on. I’m afraid to say that I was tested and found wanting. And CC2 savoured every last delicious drop of my defeat with the sort of unbridled pleasure she usually reserves for butterscotch Angel Delight.
Realising she could probably embarrass me even further still, she then managed to find something else to test me on, so my ordeal wasn’t over yet. There was a picture of a horse with arrows pointing to all its bits that you had to name and write down in little boxes. There were actually clues provided, but she carefully scribbled over them all with a Sharpie, just to make sure that my next crushing defeat was guaranteed.
Now, this one was both easier and harder in that some bits were obvious, even to a nagtard like me. It started off slow and I got ‘ears’ successfully. Yay, go me! After that it went quickly downhill, I’m sorry to admit. There were just arrows everywhere pointing at the bits of space between the recognisable actual bits. “Err… the top? No? ‘Back’ then?” Apparently not specific enough, it was ‘withers’. Next bit. “Erm… bum? No? Rear? Oooh, how about rump? Oh no, that’s a steak.” It was ‘dock’ apparently. WTF?
I was pretty pleased with myself that I got ‘fetlock’, mind you. Though when I say “I got” fetlock, I just mean I got the word right. Turns out I was about as far away as possible to being right and thought it was on the head. Stupid SDD! Stupid, ignorant, useless SDD!
The rest of the words I’d never even heard of. Except for elbow of course, which is in completely the wrong place by the way. If your elbow is next to your knee then you’ve been in a very nasty accident. No wonder the long face. I may not know my equine arse from my elbow, but it turns out that nobody else does either.
So I failed miserably and now apparently ‘owe’ her a unicorn onesie by way of recompense. I’ve no idea how that actually works but don’t worry — on top of being a complete failure at naming horse parts I’m also going to disappoint her further by showing her how to welch on a deal. ‘Deal’ being very much in air quotes.
In a way, we both got something out of the hour. I got the closest approximation to quality time that I get with her these days, and she got to grind my face into the ground, metaphorically speaking, and prove that I’m a pointless and ignorant old man. Win/win. I guess.