Thursday Video: ‘Ask a Non-Rider’ by SmartPak, Cross Country Commentary Edition

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve decided to get a bit more serious about fitness. Why, I asked myself, do I spend so many hours sweating over the German Princess’ interval training regime, making micro-adjustments to his diet, and organising visits from various (expensive) professionals, when I merrily leave myself a battered, bruised, and usually unwashed afterthought? Perhaps, I thought, there might be some merit to the idea of treating myself like an athlete, too.

So I duly joined the local gym, and hey, it’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I quite look forward to going, which is a strange and concerning feeling. When the opportunity arose to book in an hour of sweaty sadness with a personal trainer, I jumped at the opportunity — no more squats and lunges for me, I was going to learn about strength training!

I explained my goals to the personal trainer — imagine Tom Hardy, but blonde and about 5’3″ — and talked him through the basics of the sport and what I felt I needed help with. Midget Tom Hardy nodded and smiled and agreed in all the right places. I began to feel suspicious. He hadn’t yet told me that riding wasn’t, in fact, a sport. Was he a robot? Had I been lured into a trap? Was I about to be fed to a treadmill?

Nope. It was worse.

“Yeah, mate, I know all about horse riding,” he told me, with all the self-assuredness of someone who does not, in fact, know very much at all about horse riding. “My ex-girlfriend was a very good rider.”

I could almost hear the Jaws theme in the background. I tried my hand at smiling and nodding in the right places. I could feel that I was just sort of wincing at him, but Minuscule Mad Max was on a roll.

“She had a Lipizzaner, yeah?” he expanded. “You know what they are, yeah?”

“Oh. Unusual. Did she do … dressage with it?” I asked, despite the feeling of impending doom.

“Nah, mate. Jumped it, yeah,” said Itsy Bitsy Bronson. “Nearly got to the Olympics with it, actually.”

“Did she, indeed?”

“Yeah. One of the best in the country over 85cm, just couldn’t quite make the grade for the team because it kept bottling it at 90cm.”

Apparently my poker-face isn’t as good as I thought, because Baby Bane then put me through an hour of the most hellish leg workouts I’ve ever experienced. Everything hurts. Please send help.

While temporarily crippled, I’ve been entertaining myself with various other examples of non-horsey people giving the lingo a jolly good go. One of my favourite examples? This little gem from team SmartPak, who wrangled their less equestrian-inclined colleagues to have a go at commentating on a cross-country round, or ‘fun outdoorsy woodland jumping.’ Try force-feeding that one to the IOC.

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