Hop, hop, Bob!

About three years ago, I was working abroad a lot. As a mother with two children at home, I felt guilty. To make up for it, they were each allowed to arrange a short trip that I would go on with them. My daughter Marloes opted for a three-day drive with a chuck wagon. The pictures looked promising and at night she saw herself riding bareback on the Fjord horses in the photos. Because she loved ponies. Big horses, on the other hand, she was a bit afraid of them! 


When we arrived at the rental company, we immediately saw the chuck wagon, all ready for us. But when owner Anneke arrived with ‘our horse’ we were shocked. Our little Fjord turned out to be a big Shire horse called Bob. After the reassurance that he was really a sweet horse, we could start hitching him up. I had never driven horses before, so I looked carefully at all the harness straps and buckles, hoping that I would be able to put it all back on the next day. Anneke said that Bob might have a tendency to stop along the way. If we gave in to that, Bob would begin ‘living his own life’ and he could no longer be moved. So she said, “If he wants to quit, give him a push with the reins and say “hop, hop, Bob” and then he will go again.” Everything all right then, right? She also indicated that it was possible to do the first stage in one go. Bob wouldn’t need a rest. And there we went. Mother and daughter, enjoying a drive over the Veluwe together. A truly fantastic experience! But indeed, as our ride progressed, Bob wanted to stop frequently. The tip came in handy, and the “hop, hop, Bob” advice worked perfectly. But I did notice that Bob was slowing down… 


Eventually we arrived at the campsite and under the watchful eye of 35 other camping guests, we took up the challenge of unhitching Bob. When I took off the bridle, something happened I was not expecting at all. Bob just dropped completely flat to the ground. I was in a terrible shock! Later, it turned out he always did this, but they forgot to tell us. The bystanders all let out sighs of dismay, how could we have made the poor animal work so hard that it had become so exhausted! The next morning we took up the challenge to hitch up Bob again. Marloes was a safe ten meters away, and I can say that I was messing around like a true professional. Fortunately, an older man came to my rescue. He said he was a farmer and worked with horses a lot. While he was busy with the harness, he suddenly burst out laughing. “I know who you are! I was up all night trying to remember, but now I know who you are! You do something with horses!” With a kind of false modesty I admitted that this was correct, and internally I was of course proud. This was the first time I was recognized like that! Self-righteously I stood next to Bob, enjoying this success. To which the farmer said; “Yes, Anky van Grunsven! That’s who you are!” 

Leave a Reply