Archive / Hillary Hoofpick

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  • Convince yourself that your horse is the most important horse in the entire yard and deserves VIP treatment.
  • Ask for the biggest stable even though your horse is only 15.2hh and the horse currently in the biggest stable is a 17.2hh open show jumper that jumped a clear round at the Derby this year.
  • Ask that your horse is allowed to roam freely around the property as you do not like him to be restricted to a small paddock.
  • Decide that you need to visit your horse every Monday morning even though the yard is closed.
  • Invite friends and family to a picnic at the stable yard on a Sunday afternoon without first consulting the yard owner/manager.
  • Park your car in the yard owners garage as you don’t like the seats of your convertible to be hot when you drive home after riding.
  • Change your horses feed without consulting the yard owner/manager.
  • Expect the groom that has been allocated to you to stand and move jumps all morning while you ride and get annoyed when he has other work to do. After all you tip him much more than the other clients at the yard do.
  • Go into the tack room and ‘borrow’ other peoples tack without permission, put it back dirty or broken and deny any knowledge of how it ended up in that state.
  • Run over the yard owner/managers dog and pretend that it was someone else.
  • Paint your horses stable purple because the ‘horse whisperer’ said that your horse liked the colour.
  • Visit your horse after 5:30 pm and phone the yard owner/manager and complain because your horse has done a poo in his stable and he cant possibly sleep in a dirty stable.
  • Ask if you can have a discount on your livery bill as finances are a bit tight this month.
  • Bring your dogs to the yard and laugh when they chase the chickens, other dogs and horses that actually reside on the property.
  • Send a message after 10 pm to the yard owner/manager saying that you want your horse tacked up for 5:30 am the next morning.
  • Send a message at 6:30 the next morning saying that you over slept and you are not going to make it.
  • Decide that your horse needs a companion and buy a goat that you leave in your horses stable without telling anyone.
  • Park your horsebox in the middle of the yard because you don’t know how to reverse it and everyone must go round you.
  • Ride the yard owner/managers horse while they are away and the horse is resting.
  • Treat the yard owner/managers house like a club house, help yourself to coffee and various other items of food and even make international phone calls from their phone.
  • Prune all the hedges around the yard owner/managers house.
  • Use the toilet inside the yard owner/managers home as you don’t like using the toilet in the clubhouse.
  • Use all the coloured jumping poles that have just been painted as trotting poles and leave them on the ground after you have finished riding.
  • Change the distances between jumps to suit your much smaller horse/pony.
  • Only pay your livery account every three months.



What Not to say to your Coach


PUPIL: Can you ride my horse for me next week? There is a cold front coming and I don’t like getting out of bed in the early morning when it’s very cold.

COACH: Sure, I don’t feel the cold at all and embrace sitting on a horse that’s greatest wish is to see me lying on the ground.

PUPIL: I can’t believe that you are going away next weekend, I told you I was going to a show.

COACH: This is the only time that I have ever missed one of your shows and you seem to forget everything that I have ever taught you the minute that you ride into the arena so there is really no point in being there.

PUPIL: I watched the Rio Olympic Eventing on TV and I really don’t think the track looked very big, I could definitely have done some of the jumps.

COACH: Considering that you refuse to trot over a small branch that has fallen across the bridle trail, I think there is more chance of hell freezing over.

PUPIL: So I saw that Baron Von Sprinkaulhasen ( a top coach from Europe ) is out here coaching next month, I have booked 6 lessons with him and will not be able to have any lessons with you next month as money is going to be tight.

COACH: Fantastic news, I have never heard of the person and only because they have a name that sounds vaguely European are you booking so many lessons with them.

PUPIL: During my clinic with Baron Von Sprinkaulhasen last month he showed me a video of a stallion that he has been competing on the European circuit. It has Olympic bloodlines and he really feels that it is the perfect horse for me. Can you ride my horse next week while I go overseas to try the stallion ?

COACH: No problem at all but please can you settle your account with me that has now been outstanding for three months.

PUPIL: I am exhausted after all the practice we have been putting in for the Derby.

COACH: The Grooms Handler class does not count as riding at the Derby.

PUPIL: I know that you are in hospital having reconstructive surgery on your nose but I really need a lesson tomorrow morning.

COACH: No problem, just give me a few hours to get over the aesthetic.

PUPIL: Baron Von Sprinkaulhasen thinks that I should be in a light seat when I am cantering.

COACH: Considering that your horse runs away with you on a regular basis, I think you are asking for trouble.

PUPIL: I could not be happier about winning that class.

COACH: You were the only one in the class.

PUPIL: I have a cash flow problem this month so I can’t pay you but will try next month.

COACH: I suppose the helicopter that you arrived in for the lesson is your way of cutting costs?

PUPIL: You are so lucky to work outdoors with animals, it must be so rewarding.

COACH: Yes, being outdoors in all weather and never knowing what sort of salary one is going to earn is certainly a rewarding experience.

PUPIL: Can you ride my horse for me on Saturday morning, I like to have a lie in during the weekend because I have to get up early during the week to get to the stables by 8 am.

COACH: It would be such a pleasure, who needs a lie in? Especially when your 8am lesson is my third one of the morning.

PUPIL: I did not recognise you without a hat on, you look so different!

COACH: Yes, underneath the hat and sunglasses lurks a normal person that is not always covered in dust and suffering from sinusitis.

PUPIL: I have decided to move yards at the end of the month, the new yard has a horse walker, indoor arena and a spa. It is R1750 more expensive than where I am now but I think it’s worth it, and by the way they do not allow outside coaches so I am going to have lessons with the in-house coach there, I am sure you understand don’t you ?

COACH:  I have just put 5 years of my life getting you and your horse to jump an 80 cm track and am actually quite fond of the horse but it’s really no problem at all.

PUPIL: How do I get my horse to prance on the spot, you know when it sort of goes up and down? Like at the Olympics.

COACH: Considering you can barely trot a 20m circle with your horse in a frame, I can safely say we are light years away from teaching it to piaffe.

PUPIL: My horse is so talented and loves me so much, I have not ridden for two weeks and look at how well he is going.

COACH: Yes, it is all down to the horse loving you and me riding it for two solid weeks (while you were in Europe trying horses) has nothing to do with its way of going at all.

PUPIL: Do I have my spurs on the right way round?

COACH: Yes, and you would not need spurs if you actually started to use your leg a bit.

PUPIL: I just feel that I should look at some horses overseas, we have nothing in this country that is really good enough to go to the top.

COACH: And you feel that you are capable of riding a horse that is considered world class?

PUPIL: Guess what? I went to an auction this weekend and bought the most amazing horse.

COACH: Great news, that horse was being ridden at the auction by one of the best riders around and even he was battling a bit with it. The reason you only paid R150 000 is because it has a reputation longer than my arm and is known at home by the grooms as MUGABE because it destroys everything in its path. I will look forward to riding it for you after is face plants you into a fence.

PUPIL: Thank you so much for all that you do for my horse and I, I don’t know where I would be without you.

COACH: It is such a pleasure, I do this job because I love it and every so often I meet someone who really appreciates and values my opinion.