Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Highlight of the Day

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!


jenj said...

I have often wondered what horses say about their owners to each other. I would imagine that Qrac says that Mummy brings lots of carrots and grooms me and we have nice rides together, while the horses owned by the lady at the salon probably barely even know her. Instead, they think of their groom as the #1 person in their lives, because that's who brings them treats, grooms them, and loves on them. The lady in the salon "only" rides them!

Laura Crum said...

Cesca--You always make me smile. I so agree with you. Of course, I'm not so much into the fussing/grooming (as anyone will tell you who has seen my horses). But I love being the one who feeds and cares for them every single day, and would never hand off my "horse chores" to anyone else. I like to ride, but just living with my horses is my favorite thing. And I would have HATED that rich lady (!) Such people shouldn't own horses.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to understand how people can ride and not want to take care of their own horses - I actually enjoy the grooming/care interactions as much or more than riding. I expect people like that think of horses as status/money symbols or pieces of sports equipment.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

I can't escape the feeling that the redhead's staff probably have a rough time of it, and her husband probably understands his role too.

The last conversation about horses at the hairdresser's went something like this:
Him - "You have a horse, don't you?"
Me - "Yes."
Him - "My daughter wants a pony - are they expensive?"
Me - "Yes."
Him - "Well that's settled then."

horsegenes said...

This is my regular conversation with the hairdresser...

HD: How is your boy? (she knows how much I love this horse)
Me: He is great. He is such a good boy and such a love!
HD: Just like my RATS. I can't wait to get home to kiss'um and snuggle with them. We are going to watch movies tonight and have popcorn.

I have to admit that at first I was offended that she would compare a rat to my Semper. But she loves her rats the same way I love my boy. To each his own. :)

I have never understood why people wouldn't want to do their own grooming and saddling. It is such an opportunity to learn all kinds of things about your horse. Where ever little bump or imperfection is. To know when something is wrong. To just put your hands on them. I go straight to Sempers stall and grab his big white nose and plant multiple kisses on it. I rub him face and eyes. This can go on for 5-10 minutes and he sure acts like he loves every minute of it. He can get away if he wants but he doesn't. He puts his head down and just takes it all in.

I wouldn't give that up for any amount of penthouse apartments or diamonds.

Jen said...

Well I'm thinking I'm far too coochie-coo over mine as well (although I really don't see how that's possible ;o)
I can't imagine having only a superficial relationship with our horses; that silly woman is really missing out (and totally clueless there, I'd bet).

Susan said...

People around here think we're crazy because we have horses that we just feed. They will never understand that they are part of our family.

Unknown said...

What a great, funny and all too true tale!

Unknown said...

I love the time I spend with my horses. I get depressed if I don't get to spend time with them, and for me that doesn't mean just saddle time.
I like cleaning the stalls, and I like how they all watch me while I work, like I'm crazy or something. I love when Trax will let me walk right to him and put my arms around him, and I laugh when he doesn't, because I know it his mind it had to be his idea.
I have loved getting to know each one of my horses so personally that if they are feeling a little off, I know it immediatly.
I love when they race around the pasture kicking up heels and acting the fools when the weather is chilly.
For me it is all about the whole package. That lady doesn't know what she is missing.

Alison said...

Francesca -- I love your post! So much fun. No one can do foreign dialogue like you!

When are you getting back to your next novel, hmmm? This could be a scene.

Francesca Prescott said...

Everyone: thank you for the lovely comments, I'm happy you enjoyed my silly post, I had fun writing it (even if it was a little mean towards that lady!!). I've been in hospital for light surgery and am home recovering, which is why I didn't respond before, or respond individually. I'm fine, it was no big deal, and I'll be out and about and back in the saddle very soon!


ORSunshine said...

Thank you for this post. You've defined for me why I cannot train with a particular dressage trainer in my area. Nor work for her. When I interviewed with her for a working student position, she was more concerned about telling me about her upper crust clientele and how her daughter is doing training and competing with Grand Prix masters, than about the horses she had, whom I'd be directly working with. It was her lack of passion for the horse itself which was what turned me off, and until just now, some months after this all happened, I finally have words to express my dislike. So, thank you for that!