Calendars, how they work.

Thinking outside the Horsebox really requires a calendar, and an ability to operate a calendar. It isn’t good enough just to hang the calendar on the wall and look at the pictures. There are figures involved. Not just the ones promoting the virtues of a particular brand of brake fluid, or the unique stopping capability of a tyre, both of which are apparently best displayed by removing clothing from young ladies.

There is a series of numbers discretely placed at the bottom of the page. There will be a sequence from 1 to 31, or 30, or 29, or occasionally 28, which are to all intents and purposes irrelevant. There will be a four digit number probably in a larger typeface, find it and look at the first two digits. They will be 20, not 19 or 18 or 17, but 20 and this number defines the century you are living in.

This is where the tricky part of operating a calendar comes in. It says 20 and doesn’t mean you are living in the twentieth century. I think that is where the equestrian establishment have gone off the rails slightly. They obviously thought the 19 on Calendars ,meant the 19th century was being re run for their entertainment. But in reality, for all those 100 years, they had been in the twentieth century and never noticed.

It’s an easy mistake to make, just look at the way we acquired the National Stud.

The National Stud was founded in 1916 when Colonel Hall Walker, who later became Lord Wavertree, offered his bloodstock to the British Government on the condition that it purchased his breeding establishment at Tully in County Kildare, Ireland. His stud included more than 40 well-bred mares and had bred King Edward VII’s Epsom Derby winner Minoru, the Oaks winner Cherry Lass and many other top-class horses. The Government accepted the offer on the basis that the maintenance of first-class foundation stock would ensure the breeding of high quality light horses for the Army.

Although the increasing mechanisation of the Army between the two World Wars rapidly reduced the importance of this original function, the Government retained the Stud for the purpose of breeding high-class Thoroughbreds.

Read it again. They bought the horses in 1916. Hadn’t they noticed a small squabble going on across the Channel which we tend to remember as the Great War. They wanted to ensure the breeding of high quality light horses for the army. The army was commandeering every damn heavy horse they could find and sending them into the Somme and Passchendaele and a few other places the pillocks who were buying some wide boy’s Irish Stud had never heard of.

The increasing mechanisation between the world wars, what about the unbelievably rapid development throughout the Great War as the guys in the front line, and in the trenches noticed that horses and riders had the survival characteristics of a mayfly.

But a simple mistake to make if you see 19 at the bottom of the calendar and think we are in the 19th century, early stages of, Oh yes Waterloo was in 15 this is 16, lots of horses used, really vital, lets buy a stud.

This is a preferable theory to the alternative, that a bunch of chancers rammed through a dodgy deal when everyone else was distracted by the carnage in France and the Dardanelles.

It isn’t just the National Stud which is unsure about the Century, or the Millennia. The Equestrian Establishment as a whole lives in the past, but that is no reason for horseowners to. Tomorrow, before you go out to your horse, look at a calendar, check the first two digits of the year and try to remember this when you get to your horse. You aren’t going to be able to watch bare knuckle boxing, cock fighting is over, badger baiting ditto.

Whips are out of fashion, you can’t horsewhip editors any more, giving the children a sound thrashing is no longer part of the school curriculum, and they are talking about banning it at home. You can’t whip children, you can’t whip dogs, you can’t whip servants, or unruly peasants.

So why can you still whip horses? Why are whips compulsory for Jockeys, for children in the Pony Club, for British Horse Society members, for British Driving Society members? Go back, check your calendar. Yes it is 2010.

Maybe its’ time to tell the rest of the Horse World how calendars work. Maybe they would like to come and join humanity in the 21st century. I have a strong suspicion it would make their horses really happy.

Next time you see a calendar with horses lugging the upper classes cross country in pursuit of foxes, or hauling a vehicle on dangerous, unstable, solid tyres, or poncing around cranked into position so some top hatted, tail coated bozo can look impressive, just check the numbers.

It could just be a printers error that explains the 19th century treatment the horse gets in the 21st century.


3 Responses to Calendars, how they work.

  1. Adele Norman says:

    Nothing changes-
    “This is a preferable theory to the alternative, that a bunch of chancers rammed through a dodgy deal when everyone else was distracted by the carnage in France and the Dardanelles.” -isn’t this how they run the country today, for WW1 substitute. London bombings, Flu Pandemic, climate catastrophe, terrorists – same shit, different day!

  2. jasoda says:

    there is one aspect of ‘carrying a whip’ which does not come under the heading of whipping a horse…that is ,as I understand certain natural horse groups are pointing out nowadays, that a horse can be communicated to from behind, flanks or quarters. Not by an enforced statement of beating lightly or angrily, but by tapping as you would tap someone on the shoulder. To get their attention .’Commnunication ‘ meaning in our case with the kids that ride with me, usually by a hand tap on the rump in..literally tapping rythmically and repeatedly perhaps three or four timess and the attention is brought back to the forward going.As the famous pirelli carrot stick is at best trying to demonstatrate in my view..that a horse moves away from our prompt, but our bodies are not long enough like horses to ‘push’ a horse with our upright posture so elongating ourselves with a long stick is a logical progression. A progression not to be confused with the sadistic symbol of a horse stick or whip clearly used for punishing a non compliant horse. If a horse does not move ‘away’ from the riders stimulus, by nudgin the belly or tapping the rump, we generally get off and start again with ‘herding groundwork, which I think I alluded to when we met. Then the horse goes into the mood of respecting this new clearly speaking herd leader and settles into the relaxation that goes with properly leadership. As a flight animal the security of clear a appropriate leadership undeniably settles a horse and this shows up with an incredibly oneness which ensues. It took me a while to ‘get this’ nuance about holding a stick particularly for younger riders who are sometimes seen as younger herd members needing to be dominated. Often holdeing a rope or headcollar has the same effect, on the ground holding it above the head to establich a tallness that creates respect. Only in conjunction with ensueing body language of herding and leadership…which a child needs some guidance with until it becomes second nature. It takes alot of energy communicating the difference of holding a stick rather than feeling like a dominatrix power mongering menace, especially if dealing with the average school kid. Why do I home educate,…well thats another story…wishing you well
    Jasoda from Glastonbury
    (we are seen riding here locally without sticks or whips either in carts or bareback riding)

    • The problems arise on the edges of these topics. Yes you can use a stick to communicate, I currently use a mole grip to scratch Obama ‘cos it’s always in my pocket to hold the remains of my van key since the plastic end fell off.
      But I could torture him with it as well, and I used it today to hold the bits I needed to weld to the bannedwaggon.
      Shepherds control their dogs from the opposite side of the valley. Obama turned to me when he bolted after I flipped the bannedwaggon, or at least he turned to me after I pulled the ripcord.
      If you leave out the control methods, your control increases. If you join facebook and link up with me!/simon.saddlechariot you will see some videos of me driving without really bothering with control systems.
      I don’t mind sticks as signalling devices, but Obama still sees them as whips. This is the Parelli problem, the people know it’s a carrot stick but the pony sees a a whip.
      Speak soon.

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