A trail riding centre I used to visit had a system of relating the temperament of the horses in the herd to the image of a car.
There I regularly rode a Welsh Cob X Hannoverian bay gelding named William. He was perhaps the finest horse I have ever been privileged to ride. His car equivalent was a BMW 6 series. He was incredibly competent and king of all he surveyed at speed over rough and variable terrain. He was sure footed, experienced and unflappable. If pushed he had a turn of speed which I had never enjoyed on any other horse including any of the Thorobreds I have ridden. Personally I would have uprated him to be a BMW6 CSI - the coupe version. William was my favourite mount of 36 years of riding.
was the horse love of my life. A black hairy, broad backed, big rumped, thick necked, cob gelding - probably a descendent of a Galloway, he must be my next favourite horse, even though at the end he did me a serious mischief. He’d ride at vehicles and dare them to come on. He would slither down mountainsides in perfect control. He’d keep up with any horse when if he didn’t have the speed, he had the surefootedness and the stamina. But he would not suffer incompetence and he would be forever checking his rider out. He was my favourite pub crawling horse, because he knew onlookers would feed him peppermints and give him a stroke for merely standing there patiently waiting for his master. I would class Joe as a deluxe 4WD 5 litre Chevvy pick up truck.
was an exquisitely beautiful creature with a golden coat and flaxen mane, tail and feathers. He even had two brilliant white ears. He was a lightly built cob and for a cold blooded horse, he was highly sensitive. Few of my friends were allowed to ride him because he startled so easily. I always think of Diana Dors when I remember Puddy. She was a ‘60s - ‘70s film star who bleached her long hair white. Somehow the maiden name of Fluck suited her. She owned at one time a big flashy convertible which she drove, the hood down , with her hair streaming in the breeze. So flashy Pudd
y deserved, I reckon, the title of a Cadillac Convertible
was a pretty Welsh Cob D with a shiny, silky, mottled, rich red bay coat. He was light and fine with minimal feather. I bought him as a show colt and subsequently broke him to ride with the help of a friend. Perhaps mistakenly I got the idea that I was too heavy for him and eventually I sold him on. He could easily have been a polo pony, he was that sharp and agile. There was not a trace of malice or mischievousness in him. He was a willing goer but I knew I had to be careful of how much I pushed him. At 200lbs I am a heavy man for a horse and although he was close coupled and well put together, my weight must have been a strain on his fine legs. I’d rate him as a Ford Fiesta Hatchback XR3.
was something very different. He was pure Irish Draught whom I bought off a farmer as a 2 yo colt. He was almost 17 hands of muscle and blood. He was dapple grey with minimal feather. He had a broad back
an enormous rump and the neck of a stallion attached to a deep chest. . As with many draught horses he was a gentle giant. Fitting harsh bits and tie downs to this horse were inappropriate, so I had him backed and schooled professionally to respond to the aids. I remember holding on a head collar and his turning his head to the right at which point I came off the ground since there was nothing I could do to resist the power of him. We gave him the name of a tank and I still think Sherman
to be appropriate.
was a straight forward, spotted, clean legged, cob with a short neck. By nature he was a union shop steward who would never do anything to put himself or his rider at risk We bought him to teach my brother to ride and that was what he did. Once Graham could ride well enough then Ranger seemed as dull as ditchwater but what do you expect of a schoolmaster. Graham and I did a long distance trail ride together and when my horse broke down, Ranger had to carry both riders in turn for the remaining length of the ride. Somewhere in the middle of a hail storm, whilst up on top of a windy ridge, I came to appreciate this doughty horse who had already been out on the trail for five hours. In Ranger’s era the big selling car for the working man was a Ford Cortina
and that is what I shall re-name him.
The first horse I ever owned was Robin Goodfellow - alias Sunshine.
A 15h+ Bay gelding of indeterminate breeding. But he never put a foot wrong and two novice riders were able to handle him without ever getting into trouble. He lacked image but there was no doubt he was a faithful family steed who gave good service. I feel that to call him a Ford Anglia
is a compliment - except perhaps for the fact that Anglias were always rust buckets. Sunny was a sturdy basic gentle horse who would tackle to the best of his ability anything put before him.
My present horse DiDi
is, as some will know, a sharp, intelligent, powerful, Irish Draught X Connemara. She’s got a broad back, a big rump and a deep chest. She is a goer and that’s for sure. Her kindly temperament is deceptive, since she will not suffer fools gladly. The rider must sit still and upright on this girl. She will respond if you squeeze the accelerator and touch the brakes but be heavy handed and she’ll have you off. She’s a Porsche Carrera
- you have to know how to ride with subtlety before you can drive this horse.
So you can see, over my 36 years of riding horses I have enjoyed the companionship of some splendid creatures. I suppose I could still go out and buy a second hand version of the cars named but regrettably I can’t now fill the stable yard with those horses, all but two of which have sadly passed away. I was blessed to enjoy the company of all of them. WHAT’S THE CAR EQUIVALENT OF THE HORSES IN YOUR LIFE?