Saturday, February 05, 2011

Being horsey

As anyone who's lived with a horse owner will be able to tell you, it can sometimes seem that they play second fiddle to the horse(s).  It's certainly true that the good ladies of Grumbler Towers spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with their own animals and, as a grumpy old man, I've occasionally wondered what it takes to get some attention.

Well, on the one hand, you can try to be a little more horselike. Presumably one could undertake a certain amount of cosmetic surgery to attach a tail and it must be possible to apply for a licence to crap in the street from HM Government (these appear to be two of the primary attributes of the target animal).  However, I'm not really up for a diet of grass and sugar beet, and there are only a limited number of circumstances in which I am prepared to let Mrs Grumbler anywhere near me while wearing shiny boots and carrying a riding crop. And I'm not sharing those with you lot.

There's also the old dictum "If you cant beat them, join them". Actually, I've tried that, having owned a rather nice horse called Max for a few months. As it happens, I didn't have the time or dedication needed, I just wasn't cut out for it. Now, I'm sure you're wondering "how hard can it possibly be?"

Well, for you, dear reader, here's how you can discover that for yourself, without actually having to buy a horse....

The Grumbler's guide to pretending to own a horse...

Dressing the part isn't essential, but if you want to be authentic you will need an anorak and a pair of skintight stretchy trousers which are at least a size too small and have holes where they shouldn't. Note that this is the inexpensive part of horse ownership; you need only one of each, since neither will be washed more than twice a year. You should be militantly indifferent to your appearance, because the horse doesn't actually care what you look like, and therefore neither should anyone else. Footwear, however, is important. You do need a pair of boots, which you should soak in cold urine every night. so that they quickly attain that 'Je ne sais quoi...' (That's French for 'pervasive smell of wee-wee').

Your pretend horse is going to require a certain amount of looking after - physically and financially. Be prepared to spend up to two hours before and after work each day in the middle of a field, shovelling wet twenty-pound notes into a shredder (note that shredded paper from companies who really do print money is sometimes used as horse bedding, the analogy isn't that far fetched) while a crazed accomplice pelts you with dung. Obviously, that should be horse dung, but since you don't actually have a horse yet, cowshit will do.  One cautionary note - if you are using cowshit, make sure its fresh - those dried out "frisbee" shaped cowpats can have your eye out in skilled hands.

You have now successfully recreated the authentic mucking-out experience, while at the same time getting used to feed, accommodation and vet bills.  You see how easy I'm making this for you?

You might be thinking this is a dirty, smelly job - and there's a grain of truth in there. But look on the bright side - it's not necessary that you be indifferent to how badly you reek because you wont actually notice it. That part of the experience is for other people, such as your loved ones (remember those boots?  They should be about right by now...)

While I think about it, you must occasionally have someone knock you down, drive over your foot, smack you in the shin/stomach/groin/head with a hammer, or trap part of your anatomy in a door. Your accomplice must do this when you least expect, and when it will cause the maximum amount of inconvenience; it will acquaint you with being barged, stood on, kicked or bitten. Remember, though, that this is only happening because your 'horse' loves you, so the only thing you should do to your accomplice is offer a nice rosy apple or juicy carrot as a reward.

At weekends, you will have time to 'ride' - this is, after all, why you're pretending to have a horse. After the first field based money shredding experience of the day (yes, that happens at weekends too), obtain a bicycle, by borrowing or stealing if necessary (by now, you are unlikely to be able to afford your own).

Spend at least an hour cleaning the bike before letting all of the air out of the tyres and, if you are planning to go on a public road, loosening the nut which holds the handlebars straight. Its finally time for your reward for all of that hard work - ride that bike backwards and forwards across a field which has been freshly ploughed.

Once you are exhausted and have cracked at least two vertebrae, you may go out onto the highway, but only if there is traffic. Every time you hear a car, it's important to move a little further into the road and slow down. You must wobble alarmingly (this is why you've undone your steering) and, if at all possible, you must cycle sideways like a drunken crab, while pulling a series of spectacular "wheelies". This is all just to remind the driver that he needs to slow down and stay far, far away, since should he end up with a hoof (wheel) through his windscreen it will be his fault under UK law, whatever the circumstances.

By the time you arrive back at your 'stables, you should be almost too exhausted to move. Now you must clean the bicycle again, and finally remove the saddle and hang it in a shed. If you're very lucky, the saddle will still be there in the morning, unless you've been visited by a collection of thieving Pikey bastards (triple tautology) overnight. Now, cover the bicycle with a blanket, go back into the field and shred another wheelbarrow full of cash.

If you still want a horse after all that, then I heartily encourage you to contact a livery stable and learn how to do it properly, since you're clearly a nutcase with a bad case of obsession which I'll never begin to understand.  Anyway, hope that's helped. I cant sit around here all day writing to you folk, I've got several motorbikes to clean and polish....