About a month ago the daughters came running in all excited, trying to tear me away from my computer to come and look at something amazing in the street. It was a vaulting horse, parked like a car in the road, just sitting there. None of the neighbours knew where it had come from. Carol, my partner, wanted us to bring it inside, I was opposed to the idea. In the end I agreed, on the condition that we would freecycle it if nobody had claimed it by the end of the week.
It was really, really heavy, we could just carry it between us. With some manoeuvring it fitted through the front-door, it didn’t fit through any other doors. We left it in the hall.
The horse had a maker’s name on it – Niels Larsen and Son Limited, Leeds. I did a search, they still existed. I asked them to send me a price list. When it arrived I discovered that a modern vaulting horse costs over £700 and isn’t half as charming. Maybe, I thought, ebay would be better than freecycling.
Over the next week I started to get rather fond of the horse. It was a charismatic, bulky and reassuring presence in the hall. I started patting it absent mindedly when I came home from work. The children started climbing up its legs, riding on its back and making up games with it.
Carol rang the police to see if any local schools had reported a missing horse. They checked their database and said nothing had been reported. They said we could do what we wanted with it. We didn’t know what we wanted to do with it.
Today I found a page called Guidlines for Training the Vaulting Horse.
The vaulting horse has to be very obedient and trustworthy. Obedience comes from consistent training, using the vaulting whip in a very meaningful way. It is an extended whip with leather thong capable of reaching the hind legs from the centre of a 15 metre circle whilst the lunger stands still.
The following signals are fairly universal so that anyone taking a trained vaulting horse and using the known signals will have a successful session.
Maybe we’ll keep him after all (I don’t know why it’s a ‘him’, but Carol agrees with me about that), we could train him up, maybe exhibit him after a few months. He’s no trouble, apart from the occasional stubbed toe, and although visitors do sometimes look a bit surprised it’s not nearly as bad as the stuffed Afghan Hound who lived in our previous house. She was called Janet.