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Frankly, you couldn’t care less about whether Great Britain or Germany win the horse dancing medals, but you’ve been making interested noises at all the right points, so your other half now thinks you are, in fact, interested.
Conundrum. You know there’s no way out of watching lots of horses on the TV pretty soon, and worse…they’re going to expect you to have something to say about it. No worries - non-horsey people of the world, we’ve got your back!
So whether to appease the horsey other half, or to impress them, here’s your guide on how to fake your way through the Olympics.
Read these sayings, memorise them, then just blurt them out at (hopefully) the right time. Nobody will be any the wiser, we promise.
If dressage is happening (yep, the one with no jumping over things) then here are a few key phrases. Always start with something generic;
‘The Brits are looking really good this year’
‘Do you think the Germans will take gold?’
‘It’ll be tough to beat the London performances’
Move on to some easy observations. Watch any test where your horsey partner looks impressed, and at the end, say something like ‘that horse has excellent cadence’ or ‘the extensions were amazing’.
If she follows up with a yes, you’ve done good. If the answer is that no, Charlotte is not making it a double, don’t panic. Just say ‘Kristina Sprehe has been in really good form, hasn’t she?’ and leave it at that. Walk away for a second and keep your cool. Then return, nod your head approvingly at Charlotte’s score (unless she falls off, it will be a good one) and murmur ‘well done.
You’ve made it through dressage successfully. Now, Jumping. The one with lots of colourful poles but no mad galloping through the countryside over big logs. Non-horsey people sometimes find jumping quite exciting, so maybe you’ll surprise yourself.
Go as generic as possible...
‘Surely Germany can’t lose this?’
‘Pity for Scott Brash. He was in great form too’
‘Ludger’s been riding well, think he might get a medal’
Watch as they walk the course or show you the course on TV and say something like ‘that double looks quite tricky’ or ‘the combination might cause some problems.’ Alternatively, go with ‘they’ll have to ride this course really accurately.’ We guarantee nobody will argue and say that the double looks super duper easy.
If the horse looks like it’s taken off too far away, and your horsey partner and their friends go ‘ooooh’, interject with the comment ‘Phew, long spot!’
Not long shot, long spot.
Wait for Amy Millar to appear and say ‘if she’s half as good as her Dad, she’ll go clear.’ Then wait for any of the German riders and say ‘this is one to watch.’
Boom. You’ve just made all your partner’s friends jealous. They want a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend like that too! It just isn’t fair that Susan/John gets all the luck in love.
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. Only one discipline left to go before you’re allowed to watch the football in peace without having to wonder why anyone is dedicating years of their lives to learning to ride an animal, only to fall off at the first jump anyway. While you may have a point, it’s not one you should mention to horse people. Especially not during the Olympics.
When the Eventing competition starts at the Olympics, the same musings make their way around the horse world. Every time.
‘It’s really just boils down to the Dressage though, doesn’t it?’
‘It’s not really a full up 4* course’
This is followed by a discussion about the weather and ground. For Rio, you just need to wonder aloud whether the horses from colder nations will struggle with the heat. Pose it as a rhetorical question. You, after all, are just mulling things over. Not asking an actual question. You know far too much about horses to do that.
Always, always make some mention of Mark Todd. He’s a legend in the sport of Eventing. Just say one of the following:
‘Mark’s on his seventh Olympics already, can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday that he was riding Charisma.’
‘He really could ride anything, couldn’t he?’
If you miss your chance to mention Mark Todd, look out for William Fox-Pitt instead. Both of them are tall, wiry, middle aged men who horsey women will fawn over. For their riding abilities only, you understand. When you see or hear his name say ‘it was a bit of a surprise to see him on the team, but his recovery since that fall has been incredible.’ Everyone will nod and agree, except for the occasional staunch supporter who will say he was a dead ringer for the team. That’s fine, just respond with ‘it’s a strong team’ and leave it at that.
Then, be sure to comment on the water jump. What you say doesn’t really matter, but a breezy ‘good through the water there’ remark is applicable to pretty much any horse who goes round the course. Which will presumably be a fair amount of them!
As the Eventing riders go into their Jumping phase (we know, it’s complicated!) you can add one more thing for extra effect. Wait for a horse to knock a pole off the jump wings and say ‘they just know the coloured ones fall’ or ‘it’s so rare to find an Eventing horse that’s a careful Jumper too.’
If you’ve followed all these steps, you have successfully faked you way through the Equestrian Olympics. That’s no mean feat! Give yourself a pat on the back for learning in one hour what everyone else took over a decade to learn. Now, enjoy the newfound admiration and love your horsey partner will have for you. There’s nothing better than a partner who supports your interests and hobbies, after all!
By Sophie Baker