Holidays and horses

Yippee! It’s holiday time, writes Carolyn Henderson. No work, no pressure and – because there’s a downside to everything – no horses.

Here’s how you know that you’re a certified horse addict:

  1. Before you started looking at holiday destinations, you negotiated the length of your stay with your nearest and dearest/travelling companions. A week? Ideal, you can bear to be parted from your four-legged(s) for that long. Ten days? Bearable. A fortnight? Now you’re on the limit.
  2. Going on a dream riding holiday? Then ignore the above. The chance of riding great horses in fantastic surroundings is enough to tempt anyone. The chance of riding your own horse in fantastic surroundings is just as – or even more – tempting. Getting away from it all does wonders for your relationships. All of them.
  3. You’re exhausted by the time you set out because there’s been so much to sort out. Even when you know your horse will be getting the best of care, you keep remembering things his holiday host needs to know. As for the packing…
  4. Ah, packing. Apart from the obvious things, like his passport, headcollar and any medication or feed supplements, there are the extras. You never know what the weather is going to do and while you might be able to survive two weeks with the contents of a teeny suitcase, he needs to be equipped for heat, flies, rain, gale force winds, earthquakes. OK, let’s stop there.
  5. Your eyes are still red when you head to the airport, because you’ve written THAT email to your vet. The one that says you’ve given the carer permission to call said vet if there are any problems and to authorise any action the vet deems necessary. Horrid, but it gives everyone peace of mind.
  6. The first time your phone pings with a text from your horse’s carer, your heart rate gallops faster than Frankel. Fortunately, it’s just your horse, telling you he’s having a lovely time chilling in the field and attaching a picture to prove it.
  7. You’re on the way to your holiday base and you pass horses grazing in a field. If you’re driving, you stop to look. If your other half is driving, you know he/she is the one for you because they stop so you can look.
  8. You either a) gain a Brownie point because you remembered to match your white bits to your rider’s tan with the spray or bottled equivalent before you left or b) spend your first evening applying fake tan lotion.
  9. Your fingernails grow at a remarkable rate. And whoever new that the tips were naturally white?
  10. Alternatively, you’re feeling smug because you’re an equestrian goddess with beautifully moisturised, glowing skin – no join lines – and perfect nails. These women do exist: it’s why I spend ages talking to them at social events, wonder why they’re giving me funny looks and realise I know them really well. You look different with riding hats on, honestly.
  11. That collection of holiday novels has at least one which features horses in the story line. If not, download a sneaky Zara Stoneley or Fiona Walker – the horses are incidental characters, so you needn’t feel guilty.
  12. You have a fabulous time and genuinely feel sorry that your holiday is coming to an end. But on the last day, you secretly dance a little jig because it’s only one sleep until you see your horse again.
  13. You’ve read and recognised all the above – but think I’ve missed something out. Do tell us…