By Francesca Prescott
While doing my highlights the other day, my hairdresser enquired politely, as always, about my horse. I’ve know from the first time I went to this salon that his enquiry is simply a ruse to launch me into equestrian autobabble, enabling him to mentally switch off and make appreciative noises every so often. Which is fine. I’m happy to sit back and enthuse over how wonderfully Qrac is working, knowing full well the gorgeous man painting me beautiful hasn’t a clue what I’m talking about. Doesn’t matter; I always come out with great hair.
However, last week, while I was equestrially enthusing, I noticed a heavily label-clad redhead sitting beside me, fresh from the hair-washing area of the salon, waiting for my hairdresser to do work his magic on her. She looked up from Vogue and announced that she had horses too. Many, actually. Stallions mostly. Akhal Teke and Hannoverians. So, what breed was my horse? What level did I ride? Where was he stabled and with whom did I train?
Happy to have someone to chat horse with, I gave her the lowdown on Qrac. “Well, you see, he’s an eight-year-old Lusitano, I’ve owned him just over a year and a half, and he came to me with very limited training, and rushed a lot in the beginning. I’ve recently had him gelded, oh and I train with so-and-so, and so-and-so, and so-and-so. We’ve only competed once, last summer, at a very modest level and not particularly successfully (to say the least!), but we’re making amazing progress, he’s really starting to sit, and he’s such a brilliant tryer, and I’m hoping to show more regularly during the coming season. “ I probably said a lot more, but you probably get the giddy, lovestruck drift.
“Ah bon,” she said, attempting to haul up a Botoxed eyebrow. She muttered something about riding at a far higher level, and went back to Vogue.
Somewhat crestfallen, I settled back into my chair, impressively Lady Gaga-ish under my mountain of cling-filmed hair. Soon, my hairdresser moved on to the redhead, leaving me to chemically infuse while they discussed what new do she might fancy. “Chéri, I want a change,” she bellowed, waving her hands around, making sure everyone saw how many rocks she was wearing. “Give me a long fringe, mon chéri. It will be amusant, n’est-ce pas?”
“Mais quelle bonne idée!” beamed the hairdresser. Waving his scissors dashingly, he dove in for the chop.
I grabbed a copy of Elle and immersed myself in it, waiting for my highlights to cook. Once they were done, another hairdresser ushered me to the hair-washing area and settled me in, fussing over over me. Was I comfortable? Was the water temperature too hot, too cold, just right?
Meanwhile, over in the chopping area, the redhead was now loudly voicing her opinions on the architectural suitability of the real estate market for people of a certain age in the high-income bracket. She had it all sorted, had designed the perfect penthouse with the mandatory back-entrance for “le personnel de maison”, and was braying away to the hairdresser, punctuating the end of every sentence with a “you know what I mean?”. Once certain he’d got the astronomically expensive picture, she moved on to discussing the merits of having staff to prepare your “nags” (she used the French equivalent to that word, “canasson”. If I hadn’t warmed to her before, I certainly wasn’t oozing admiration now) for you to ride, because, frankly, having to groom and saddle-up is far too boring, especially when one has have far more pressing things to attend to, you know what I mean?
I looked up and caught the eye of the man washing my hair. Our expressions said it all, yet I couldn’t resist telling him that one of my favourite moments of the time I spend daily with Qrac is when I show up at his stable door, say “hello, you beautiful, clever boy”, and offer him a carrot. I told him that I love to lead him to the grooming area where I start by taking off his blanket. I explained how I love to groom him, to brush his mane and tail until it flows silky smooth, how I enjoy matching his saddle-cloth and bandages, how I love kissing his nose and telling him what a good boy he is. I told him how, once we’ve had our daily workout, be it an outside ride, a lunge session or dressage, I love un-tacking him while telling him how clever he’s been, brushing off his sweat, showering his legs, showering him with love. I tell him how I’m certain my horse enjoys being fussed over, standing calmly, even dozing off while I groom him. He’ll wake up and paw at the ground for a carrot once in a while, then munch away happily when I indulge him, which – surprise, surprise - I usually do.
I left the salon happy with my hair, but feeling sorry for the many horses owned by that redheaded lady. Because even if they probably live in the lap of luxury in a fabulous stable, I don’t think they’re the highlight of her day. I just hope they all have a special “domestique” fussing over them while they’re being prepared to accommodate Madame’s designer-breeched behind. Sheesh!
I know, I know, I’m totally overly coochy-coo with my horse (and my dogs, too), and I’m sure some people think I could tone it down a little. I mean, there’s probably a happy medium, especially when it comes to buying bags of carrots. But some people just make you crazy, don’t you think?! That redhead certainly did!
Happy New Year! Wishing you healthy, happy horses. And everything else, of course!