Melissa Kite

Real life | 19 April 2018

Now that riding clubs have discovered them, a simple booking is torture

Real life | 19 April 2018
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‘If this madness goes on, I will not be able to leave my house without downloading the app,’ I told my friend, who had been exhorting me to download the app for something.

In fact, I had been trying to book a fun ride. Every year, my horsey friends and I go on these cross country jollies during the summer months. And every year all we do is ring or email the secretary of the relevant riding club, say we are coming, send a cheque, get our start time and turn up in our trailer on the appointed day.

Not any more. The riding clubs have discovered apps. And so now, when one tries to register to go on a fun ride, the antithesis of fun begins.

You cannot ring or email anyone to book anything anymore, let’s face it. For pretty much everything, including all horse events from showjumping to fun rides, you have to go to a website. The one for horse events is called… wait for it…

Oh, kill me now, I thought, as I logged on to this exercise in 21st-century torment.

All my friends have registered, so on I went, encouraged by them to just log on, just enter my details, and just pay online. And if I couldn’t be bothered with any of that, then, as one friend so hilariously told me, I could — drum roll — download the app.

Seriously? You think it will be easier for a woman in midlife with two kinds of failing eyesight (I can’t see either up close or far away) to input every detail including her inside leg measurement into a small phone touchscreen? Do you mean me to register as Nafoffa Shite riding a horse called Farty?

‘Do not tell me to use the app,’ I told this friend. ‘I will log on and register on my laptop, but even that is going to be hit and miss.’

And so it proved to be. The horrors that await you on are truly beyond the limits of endurance.

The home screen is full of what I think they call pop-ups. So there are windows within windows, showing millions of events and you have to click and click and scream and scream as you minimise boxes by mistake then open boxes you don’t want.

‘How is this fun?’ I thought, as I clicked everything I could just about see through contact lenses and reading glasses to find the fun ride. I longed for the time — wasn’t it only last year? — when dear old ladies were on the end of phone lines telling you where to send your cheque and that they looked forward to seeing you.

Eventually, I managed to get the opening screen of the log-in process up and running, only to be greeted by this message: ‘What type of monkey are you?’ I kid you not. That is what it said. There was no box to tick for ‘I am not a monkey.’ The choice was ‘Rider’ or ‘Organiser’. So I ticked rider and that led me into the second circle of Horse Monkey hell where I had to fill in my details. This had an option to tick gender — male, female or dash. So I picked dash. If they are going to be bloody awkward, so am I. Oh yes, I feel very dash-gendered today.

Email, password, date of birth. Add photo. Whether of you or your horse, it wasn’t clear, so I uploaded a picture of Darcy galloping past the finish post alone, stirrups flying, after she had dumped me at a fence.

Tick the box saying ‘I am not a robot’ — but I soon will be. Then it was on to another stage where a whole deeper level of info was required, including your VAT number.

From there, I achieved clearance to a screen showing the following choices: My Diary, My Results, My Invoices, My Banana Credits, My Monkey Bank…

I’m sorry, banana credits and monkey bank? How old are we all now? I mean, it did say you had to be over 18 to register on this site. Was this a code?

No. It was all meant to be amusing, no doubt. Like or comparethemeerkat or GoDaddy. Go to hell, daddy, is all I can say. We are becoming morons.

An unhappy monkey face kept popping up every time I didn’t give it all the information it wanted.

Fax number? Are you kidding me? Since when did monkeys have fax machines, pray?

A few minutes after I finally sated it with every piece of me it wanted, I got the inevitable email, probably the first of thousands to come. ‘Hello! Welcome to Horse Monkey’s world!’ I had registered successfully. Days later, I have still to work out how to book myself on the fun ride.