I am a huge fan of Groupon, the group discount site, for suggestions of fun things to do in the local area – particularly good if you are a newcomer with time, but few friends and no ideas. I have, however, begun to suspect the accuracy of their advertising images, and I am bringing it to the attention of my readers, lest they be similarly hoodwinked.
It’s the photos. They are horribly misleading. Take this morning’s, for instance, advertising horse-riding lessons. The offer is for one or three semi-private lessons, and this is the image used.
Now, I have some experience in the equestrian field, and while I may be a less than apt pupil, let me be the one to tell you that after three semi-private lessons you will still be circling the barn at a walk, slumped in the saddle of the quietest horse they have, under the watchful eye of an equestrienne dominatrix with thighs that could crack walnuts. You will be wearing horse-snot covered jeans, a sweat stained T shirt, and an unflattering helmet that makes you look like something out of Supermario Bros. By the end of your lessons, instead of being able to leap lightly from your trusty steed, you will barely be able to lift your leg high enough to clear the back of the saddle, whereupon you slither painfully down the side of the saddle, pausing only to catch vital body parts on the various ironmongery that features on the pictured tack.
After six months of lessons, you will be coerced into entering a charity fundraising gymkhana, where you will be told that there will be lots of other novices. On the day, you will actually discover that everyone else has either been injured (see It Started with a Kick) or has simply not turned up. The rest of the competition features show jumping and dressage by Olympic trainers, Kenyan and South African National team members, and other members of the very serious horsey fraternity. You are thrust into the ring on a reluctant ex-racehorse with anger management issues who not only has not intention of jumping a single fence, but would really, really like to help you clear gates without him. You consider it a bonus when you manage to stay mounted despite the horse’s acrobatic attempts to remove you; however the riding instructor’s reputation is at stake, and so you and your equine partner are forcibly led up to each jump, whereupon the horse is given a sound smack on the arse, and cat jumps over the pitifully low obstacles in front of him. You continue the rest of the course in this manner until you are finally allowed to exit, red-faced, to the enthusiastic applause of the entire community guffawing from the sidelines.
Thankfully, there is no pictorial evidence to prove that this harrowing episode ever occurred, but take it from me; the woman above has had more than three semi-private lessons…