Friends with children all seem to agree that there is a general rule on numbers: if you’ve got one child, you may as well have two.
But you must never, ever be tempted to think that if you’ve got two children you may as well have three. Apparently, the apophthegm breaks down at that point.
Three children pushes you over the edge. It is no longer manageable using the techniques or financing you have previously been employing. It will turn your entire life upside down, drain you of all available resources, fiscal, mental and emotional.
I can now confirm that the same thing goes for horses. (It may not be much use to anyone that I have discovered this. I realise that whilst advice on child-rearing is relevant to a lot of readers, advice on horse-rearing is barely any use to anyone. But I’m including my findings here in case there are a few stray idiots out there who have attempted to keep more than two horses. If I only help one idiot by recounting this story, then I will feel that my pain has some meaning.)
When people ask why someone like me has three horses, I try to explain it thus: horses are like cars. They all do different things. Most families keep more than one car — for example, a large, robust, all-weather 4×4 and a small runaround for popping into town.
My 4×4 is a chestnut hunter called Tara. She can be taken off-road, driven through ditches and over hedges and is generally up for anything in any conditions. However, you wouldn’t want to pop out on her for half an hour. It would be too much hassle.
My little runaround for what horsey people call ‘happy hacking’ is a skewbald pony called Grace who is light on fuel and easy to handle.