writing about them. You will appreciate that horses are big: significantly bigger than the sub-teenage girls who bend the mighty beasts to their will. Over the last 5,000 years, humans have devised a number of insightful, elegant and energy-efficient ways of stopping horses lashing out with hooves or teeth. One way is to seize a hank of loose skin at the base of the horse's neck in your fist and twist it back against the shoulder. This gives a quick-release grip on the horse to keep it in place. Some believe that, beyond physical restraint, this technique causes an acupressure-like flood of endorphins which makes the horse a bit dreamy and agreeable. It doesn't work for all horses and it definitely doesn't work for all time - soon enough the endorphin receptors get flooded out and are no longer sensitive to the hormones.
It is clearly a bit of a problem because one hand is taken up administering the shoulder-roll and there is a limit to what you can do with the one remaining hand. And what about if you want to get stones out of the rear hooves or check for spavin on the back legs? A lot of horse-handling work requires two people, one of whom just stands at the front end holding on - with or without the ould shoulder-roll. One of our Design students has clearly grown up on a horse-farm because s/he's found a solution to this waste-of-hand problem. It's a fist-sized clothes-peg or bulldog-clip which you attach to the horse's neck in the prescribed manner and leave there: freeing up both of your hands for counting the rings on the teeth or whatever it is that horse-copers do. I hope it works into a successful business proposition.
Got all that? Now a quiz:
1. Which of the following is not a disease of horses?
glanders - stifle - bone-spavin - colic - rainscald - strangles
2. When was "Eclipse first, the rest nowhere"
3. Where [the heck] is Shergar?
4. What's the difference between a mule and a hinny?
5. In what sense is it good luck to have a horse-shoe fall on your head?
Whoa! did somebody mention Horse's Neck? My father used to ply us with these when we were kids. Not tots; but not voting age adults either. It's a cocktail made with brandy and ginger ale in about 1:3 ratio. You can fancy it up with Angostura bitters, a snake of lemon peel and ice, but brandy and ginger is the core. Using whiskey in place of brandy is as a bad a solecism as putting milk in the cup first before the tea: it tastes pretty much the same but is just . . . not . . . done.