Saddlechariots are different.
Please go to http://ponyaccess.com/ , my new website covering the saddlechariot/iBex and it's uses. This is where you will also find links to all my articles on training, safety, vehicle design and even the weird stuff on cooking and politics.
My new contact details are email@example.com
and my phone number is +44 7510 736 518
It is important to make this point right at the start, and once you have entered the strange world of the saddlechariot website you will understand what I mean. If philosophy is not your bag, skip this page and go to Saddlechariots , but if you want to know Why Saddlechariots....carry on.
Nelson Mandela and "Mornington Crescent" tend not to feature in horse drawn vehicle corporate blurb, but the Saddlechariot is different. For the last few months the Saddlechariot site has been a marvellous tribute to "caring conservatism" functioning as my own, online, "care in the community" so I could have a very public nervous breakdown. It makes a nice change from drunks lolling in the gutter to save the NHS a bob or two, now everyone can go global with their problems, paranoia and delusions, with the massive advantage that most of us don't then invade Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever it is that we are invading this week.
On his release from prison, Nelson Mandela said of those who had put him in Robben Island, and kept him there, "I don't hate them because if I hated them they would still be controlling me." Just listening to his reported words loosened the chains of hate that have been wasting my time, and wasting my life. My problems are nothing to those Mandela faced, and I am not trying to draw any parallel, merely expressing my thanks to Mr. Mandela for his example which has helped me so much.
Mr. Mandela's words allowed me to look at my problems clearly, not through a fog of hate, and I saw the British Horse Establishment in all their glory playing a rather more vicious, and much less funny version of "Mornington Crescent". For those who haven't enjoyed "I'm sorry I haven't a clue!" I can only say please listen to at least one episode. "Mornington Crescent" is a truly British game involving the four players on "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" saying the names of London Underground Stations until someone says Mornington Crescent. Humphrey Lyttleton chaired the proceedings introducing abstruse and arcane rules and rituals and the players endlessly questioned his jurisdiction and the fine print in the rules. The joke is, that that is it. Once you know it is all pointless, you can laugh at those outside the charmed circle who just can't get it, and congratulate yourself on your wit and erudition. But the charm of all those concerned, and their comedy genius made this simple formula a delight to all listeners for nearly thirty years. Yes, for thirty years a game with completely fictitious rules and no point, has entertained millions, and The British Horse Establishment, for over 80 years has done pretty much the same, with meaningless rules, archaic dress codes and snobbery.
The British Horse Establishment, if you are accepted, is, I am sure, full of charming and witty people, but to an outsider, it is "Mornington Crescent" without the genius and without the charm. Complicated and abstruse rules are insisted on with no background of logic, and once you are in the charmed circle, the rules no longer apply. The joy for those in the charmed circle is how easily you can keep out the riff raff.
For example, cantering on the roads "No mater how much you enjoy cantering, remember the horse's well-being. The canter should only be attempted on suitable ground, otherwise the horse's legs will be jarred. Soft ground is best and you must never canter on a road surface." I was brought up with this absolute rule that you don't canter on the roads, until I went hunting for the first time, where all the people who insist you don't canter on the road are doing exactly that, but it is all right because they are hunting and therefore rules for the common herd don't apply.
Blinkers are vital if you are going to drive a horse. The reasons why they are vital vary according to who you are talking to, but they are vital. The Royal Horse Artillery gave up using blinkers before 1857 and don't use them to this day. Are the Royal Horse Artillery particularly stupid and permanently crashing because of a lack of blinkers? Or is it possible that the rule is nonsense. Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty thought blinkers were a dangerous fashion accessory, and every small horsey girl reads Black Beauty, they just shut their eyes when they come to the bit about blinkers.One of my Lancaster university contacts said the reason horses have to wear blinkers is so they have the same narrow viewpoint as their owners.
On the right is a page of a book for novice horse owners. It might just make sense if you are completely ignorant, but those in the know are well aware that Thoroughbreds boast of their descent in the male line exclusively, and in the female line predominantly from ARAB blood. So you start a Thoroughbred at one and wait till the notoriously late developing Arab is 5 or six, you must either assume that the whole Thoroughbred pedigree is total nonsense or that the rules don't apply to rich and aristocratic race horse owners but must be enforced on any peasants.
Yes it is Mornington Crescent, it just isn't that funny. The reason they have to say that you can start Thoroughbreds at one, combines tradition, stupidity and cruelty and is therefore supported whole heartedly by the establishment despite the fact that vets have insisted it is stupid and cruel since Captain M. H. Hayes FRCVS wrote "Points of the Horse" in 1903.
Pages 345 to 355 of this highly regarded work are a sustained diatribe against the January 1st birthday applied to all Thoroughbreds and the habit of pushing them to race too early. And guess what. Nothing has changed, but books now claim that you can start the Thoroughbred at one. Typical Mornington Crescent. Invent a pointless, idiotic rule, and insist it is both sane and sensible. But in the Equestrian establishment game, the horse is the loser.
I can go on with endless quotes and in Mornington Crescent, I do, but the essential point is simple. The British Horse Establishment have spent 8 years doing their collective best to destroy my business. Now I have got the joke and can see them as they are, a tiny elite, playing silly games to exclude the plebs, I have no problems. They have never looked at my product and all their vitriolic comments are just ignorant prejudice, an art form they have been practicing for 80 years. They have no legal rights or power, their whole power base is on people's perceptions of a brave, skilled, aristocratic elite. But once someone says "Mornington Crescent", this facade crumbles.
If you want to see the British Horse Establishment attitude to class, just look at Landrover's latest advert to support British eventing. Here is the Guardian's description.
Land Rover has created a viral ad featuring Zara Phillips being hit on by an obnoxious footballing lothario to promote the British equestrian eventing team ahead of the Beijing Olympics. In the clip Phillips, an equestrian world champion and member of the British eventing team, is seen beside a football field leading her horse from its trailer for exercise.
She is spotted by one of the players – the same character that appeared in Land Rover's viral ad featuring the England rugby union star Josh Lewsey in the run-up to last year's Rugby World Cup – who kicks the ball her way to attempt to chat her up.
After admiring her horse he says: "You're not too bad yourself, by the way." He then goes on to state that there is not much skill involved in equestrian events.
"Horse does all the work, you just sit there and look pretty," he says. "To me it's all about skill, baby, know what I mean."
The horse then sneezes violently over the wannabe charmer, covering him in snot.
Land Rover's viral ad finishes with the line "Join us in supporting British eventing".
Would someone care to tell me, apart form the kid being a footballer and obviously lower class, what he had done to deserve a face full of snot, and what this is meant to say about the British equestrian Establishment?
I hope the photographs on this page give a flavour of the people who can enjoy ponies and Saddlechariots and the places where they can be enjoyed. Everyone, everywhere. I won't restrict ponies to a narrow group dedicated to preserving British upper class twit activities when working ponies and horses have 5 millennia of global tradition.