Imagine, if you can, a working hunter pony doing a jive. Ears pricked, eyes bright, neat little feet flying. This image popped into my head — I really must stop eating cheese before bedtime — as I pondered the latest lineup in Strictly Come Dancing. Who among this year’s rather, shall we say, alternative list of celebrities will prove the top hoofer? Which got me thinking: if horses were to take part, what dance would they do (apart from leading us a merry one, of course)?
The versatile Connemara, for example, could do practically anything, but I can’t get Michael Flatley and Riverdance out of my head. Some day, in a long-abandoned and crumbling Irish castle, someone will unearth an ancient volume called Riverdance II: What to do with Your Arms…
But I digress — back to Strictly and the jiving WHP. It would, of course, be entirely workmanlike, but perhaps a lacking a little pizzazz. A show hunter pony would probably bring more flash and flair. And a Welsh section B, the rubber ball of the pony world, could pull it off with a dazzling interpretation of the dance.
A cob could surely produce a stately waltz; the flying sofa — as the chunky cob was once memorably described — may not move terribly fast but its innate desire to please means it would master the glide and turns. So long as the dance floor was big enough.
I always wince inwardly when I watch the Argentine tango; those intricate kicks and flicks make me nervous. With two lots of four legs instead of two pairs, it could quickly turn into an Argentine tangle.
The Lusitano, used in Portugal for bull-fighting — which differs from the Spanish version in that the bull isn’t killed — would produce the required fancy footwork; sorry, hoof work. But I think an Arabian would bring more to the floor, all the fire and spirit that the dance requires, plus agility and stamina for which the breed is renowned.
A hack should do a Viennese waltz, refined and beautiful, flowing and swooping around the floor with the purest grace. A riding horse could bring the same qualities to the American smooth. And what else for a hunter but a foxtrot? Although after the Hunting Act of 2004, perhaps it ought to be renamed the trailtrot.
Finally, the show pony would simply have to do the quickstep. This is my favourite dance, and I can picture a tiny but supremely elegant pony twinkling across the floor, the lights glinting off its shimmering coat and its little legs going nineteen to the dozen. If it doesn’t get pushed out of its stride.
Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you… Strictly Come Hoofing 2016!