#4 It was acceptable in the 80s (and 90s): Part 1
Earlier this week, I wrote a post about pony profiles. Writing it was like being shoved from the top of a helterskelter of nostalgia, evoking a flood of other memories on a Noah and the Ark-like scale. Ever since, my head has been filled - two by two - with a number of other horsey reminiscences, which I’ll hedge my bets a few of you will recall too.
So grab a glass of wine (it is a Bank Holiday, after all), get comfortable and allow me to bring you a handful of throwbacks to the equestrian 80s and 90s. This may take a few instalments…
11. A complete and utter disregard for health and safety precautions.
Hordes of kids all simultaneously trying to catch 20 different ponies in the same field. Armed with frayed headcollars and homemade lead ropes, we’d storm the field with our buckets of pony nuts yelling “Come oooooooooon!” at the top of our lungs, having to dodge a few mobility-ending tramplings in the process.
There were bareback rides to the field using nothing but headcollars - and all along main roads, no less. Throw in a few instances of being legged up onto newly-backed Thoroughbreds, cross-tied in their stables – and being left there – for 30 minutes at a time, along with a bit of rolling around (literally) in the back of the horsebox on journeys further afield, and you start to get the picture that health and safety just wasn’t much of a preoccupation at the time.
22. The Saddle Club and the Jinny and Shantih series
If you loved to read, you would devour one of these titles every few days. From wishing you could ride like Carole Hanson, to praying you’d uncover a mural of a red horse when your Mum and Dad stripped the bedroom wallpaper, you’d get lost in these stories for hours. There’d be lots of galloping about past peat bogs and leaping five-bar gates, and you’d wish, wish, wish you could do the same. These days, we’d be more worried about breaking our necks. Hands up who tried to memorise the first 40 or so Saddle Club titles? Horse Crazy, Horse Shy, Horse Sense, Horse Power, Trail Mates, Dude Ranch…
33. The horses you wished you could ride
Horsey pin-ups of the time covered your walls, yanked from the back page of Horse Sense or the middle of Horse and Pony. These may have included John Whitaker’s showjumper, Everest (formerly Henderson) Milton or Downlands Cancara, the Lloyds Bank Black Horse from the famous beach scenes. You might even have been horrified to learn that the way they got him to gallop down that beach was to let him chase a mare *wide-eyed emoji*.
44. Dressing like a boy
Baseball caps (usually Nike or Adidas), inexplicably MASSIVE t-shirts, rugby tops and Polo shirts were the #OOTD back then. For competitions, Dad’s funeral tie with a white shirt, cream jodhs and jodhpur boots were standard. And there was no way you were getting grease or hoof oil on that get-up beforehand, so tracky bottoms and jumpers over the top were obligatory.
Which leads me to…
Which leads me to…
55. Bronte Equestrian jackets
At school, all the ‘cool’ kids were rocking Eclipse jackets and the occasional Fila puffa. For riders, it was all about the Bronte Equestrian jacket. Usually red, green or burgundy with navy or black sleeves, you knew you’d hit the big time if you owned one of these bad boys.
66. That wallchart of the horses and ponies of the British Isles
We plastered our bedroom walls in posters from magazines like Horse and Pony (before Take That, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys and 911 replaced some or all of them), but this wallchart was something a bit special. Free with Part 4 of Horse Sense magazine, it was a huge, hand-illustrated masterpiece, featuring Shires, Clydesdales, Cleveland Bays, Highlands, Connemaras, Shetlands, Dartmoors, Exmoors and every Welsh type going. As well as this, you probably had a colour chart featuring skewbalds, steel greys, strawberry roans and yellow duns, and a highly detailed ‘points of the horse’ diagram too.
You knew your shit all the way from the poll to the pastern, whilst most other 6 year olds were struggling to point out their own knees.
More memories coming soon in Part 2...