For my first blog and seeing that it’s a Monday, I thought I would give everyone a bit of a laugh and highlight some very prominent differences within ‘horse’ terminology that exist between North America and the UK. These are all terms that I have had to discover the hard way over the last few years. Hopefully this guide will help save fellow North American equestrians from some potentially embarrassing situations when riding abroad!
1. In the UK, Polos are mints which are consumed both by people and our four legged companions but should never be wrapped around a horse’s leg!
2. I think I must have looked very special indeed when I was told to, ‘fetch the numnah’. On hearing the word, I thought maybe it was some sort of pain-killer or cooling gel for the horses. Not even close! A ‘numnah’ actually refers to a fitted saddle pad but the term can also be used to for saddle pads in general. A ‘saddle cloth’ is also a commonly used term but in reality all three words generally mean the same thing!
3. A ‘rug’ when used by horse-riders refers to an indoor stable blanket or a light outdoor blanket. I would not recommend bringing the stable manager the mat that you wipe your boots on when they ask you to throw ‘a rug’ on your horse!
4. Don’t panic if someone asks you to pass them a ‘head collar’. It isn’t some fancy new device for your horse’s head, it’s really just a halter.
5. Probably one of the most important differences to understand is the term ‘hunter’. Although show ring hunters do exist in the UK, the discipline is not nearly as widespread as in North America. The term is more generally used to refer to the sport of ‘hunting’ which involves horses and riders gallivanting across the English countryside at full speed, jumping over humongous hedges, fences and ditches and getting absolutely caked in mud from the wet English weather. The absolute disparity of the term has probably been best summarised by my American friend who expressed an, ‘aw hell no!’ when she was shown the what the English sport entailed.
6. If an Irish horse rider uses the term ‘good crack’ don’t worry, they aren’t referring to drugs! The word ‘craic’ or ‘crack’ is used to express something that is fun or enjoyable. Just a precautionary however, when used by an Irish horse person, this term may involve you gallivanting about at high speeds in the English countryside (see above)!!
7. The final term is not necessarily for equestrians only but rather, can be best applied to any unsuspecting North American traveler in the UK. This is the marvel of the ‘spotted dick’. Don’t worry! It’s nothing crude or nasty, its actually a popular desert in the UK that contains dried fruit and is usually served with a hot custard. I just wanted to save any readers from the extreme embarrassment that comes when a little old lady sat beside you turns to her friend and says, ‘oh I do fancy some spotted dick and custard.’ (and yes this DOES happen)!
Happy Monday Everyone!