The word lifestyle is a very popular and perhaps quite an over-used word as well. But we do understand why, more today than ever before. A way of living. Existence. Daily life. Well it couldn’t be more correct in explaining what impact and part of our lives that horses play. They don’t just require our time, care and money (!) but also give us a purpose of being, a way of communicating with mother nature, a bigger sense. Perhaps our sixth sense?
Here at Get the Gallop we’ve decided to let our love for that big four legged animal show through lovely products and things. But by doing this, and hopefully by you finding something you love here, we hope to help our equestrian friends by giving back. As a business we want to take our responsibility in making sure that the world out there is a better place, not just for us humans but for the ones that can’t fight their own battle, the loved and unloved ones without a voice but with furry ears, four majestic (in most cases) legs and eyes as deep as the ocean. The horses.
Here’s someone who puts it very nicely. Simon Barnes, an award-winning chief sportswriter at The Times. Whose book, The Horsey Life, you can also buy here!
Back in pre-history, people needed horses, because they needed to eat. Over generations, it became clear that keeping half a ton of meat on your doorstep was better than having to go on a long hunting trip every time you needed a feast. And so domestication began: the beginnings of horsemanship. Civilisation was built by horse-power. Humans used horses for transport, for war, for agriculture. Horses were everywhere: the cities were full of them, and no one could cross a road, save where the crossing-sweeper had been.
But then we invented tractors and tanks and cars. The horse was no longer necessary. And so, by any kind of logic, horses should have died out: perhaps a few kept going here and there, in the way that some people still keep vintage cars. But this didn’t happen. There are horses every- where: in this country, all over the world. Millions and millions of horses, and practically all of them useless. There are nearly a million horses in pri- vate hands in this country. More than four million people in this country ride, even though more than 80 per cent of them don’t own a horse.
That is crazy. Why on earth do we still bother with these big, hungry dangerous, inconvenient animals? Why do we tolerate them? It just doesn’t make sense. The answer, then, must be beyond sense, beyond logic. For many people, horses are a real bonus in life: something that makes everything more vivid, more meaningful, more thrilling. But for others – for more than 700,000 people in the UK who own or who care for a horse – horses are more than that. They are a completion.
As a sportswriter for The Times, I cover all sports. I have seen a lot of team sports in my time, and admired the way that team spirit crosses the boundaries of individuality, of race, of religion. But there is another, still stronger barrier than can be crossed: and it is the boundary between one species and another. The team of horse and rider is the most extraordinary team of them all. It is a mystery. Horses took to domestication because they have some kind of affinity for humans. And humans, some of us, have a profound affinity for horses: and, in defiance of sense and logic, simply refuse to live without them.
Far from going extinct, horses survive and prosper: so much so that you have to ask who is exploiting whom. Horses are perfectly willing to cooperate with humans and take them to madcap adventures or to gentle and meditative strolls – and humans are prepared to feed horses, provide them with shelter and clean up after them. I know: I do it myself, every day.
This strange mystery, this bizarre empathy between one species and another is at the heart of it all: at the heart of all the horsey sports, at the heart of every crazy gallop, the heart of every quiet ride across the common. Humans have reached the stage when in theory it is perfectly possible to live without horses. But it seems we don’t want to. And the more built up and civilised and organised the world gets, the more we need them.