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Upper-Class Equestrian

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"[Harriet] knew [Wimsey] to be intelligent, clean, courteous, wealthy, well-read, amusing and enamoured, but he had not so far produced in her that crushing sense of utter inferiority which leads to prostration and hero-worship. But she now realised that there was, after all, something godlike about him. He could control a horse."
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If you want to show that a character is posh and from a privileged background, a good way to do this is to give them a horse and a keen interest in riding.

Prior to the invention of the automobile, horses were frequently used as labor animals, but owning horses for riding or pulling a carriage (as opposed to a plow or cart/wagon) was always only for the very rich and everything about it was expensive and heavily taxed. In modern times, owning a horse for leisure is still a definite sign of wealth, considering you need a lot of money to buy and keep a horse, not to mention additional land or funds to keep the horse in a stable. The rider can be accomplished at Equestrian Sports, while the horse itself can be utilized for other traditional upper-class pursuits such as fox hunting and polo. Note that this does not apply if the character belongs to a group where horse ownership is common or expected (eg. they own a farm, or are a member of a nomadic people).

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Often Played for Laughs when the owner is a Upper-Class Twit who trots around everywhere on horseback when it really isn't necessary, or if the character is a Rich Bitch, they will lavish affection on their steed while treating everyone else with utter contempt.

Compare and contrast Pony Tale, whose protagonist's interest in horseback riding isn't necessarily because of class. All Girls Like Ponies might also be in play for female examples. The riders' prize steeds may or may not be Cool Horses. See Wealthy Yacht Owner for another common way for the upper-crust to get around.

Not to be confused with Canterlot's elite.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Youichiro Kanzaki from Cardfight!! Vanguard G is a Sharp-Dressed Man who is shown in a scene to own a large property with at least one butler and an unspecified number of horses; his two favourites are Herrshaft and Ehrgeiz.
  • Ayaka of Mahou Sensei Negima! is a super wealthy Ojou who is trained in riding horses - she's in the equestrian club at school and at her house they own a stable of horses she often rides for fun.
  • Early in Gundam Wing, Relena's school is shown to have a horse riding class. It's meant as a visual aid of how ritzy the school is and underscore that Relena herself is a Lonely Rich Kid.
  • Cavendish from One Piece, is hardly ever seen without his steed Farul and he always acts upper-class before a side story reveals he used to be outright royalty before he was deposed.

    Art 
  • Norman Thelwell's comic sketches get much of their comedy from contrasting the popular image of an elegant British horseman with the more common situations of sullen horses, muddy environments, and whiny prepubescent riders.

    Comics 
  • Wealthy industrialist Hiram Lodge from Archie Comics owns a horse ranch, where in one story, a prize quarter horse he plans to race suddenly becomes bereft of jockey. Betty Cooper has been tending and grooming this horse, and offers to be a substitute jockey. Lodge is skeptical, believing girls are suitable only as trainers, and that only male jockeys are competitive enough for stakes races.
  • In Batman Incorporated, Batman's Argentinean counterpart, El Gaucho, is a wealthy horse breeder and trainer.

    Film — Live Action 
  • It Takes Two: Alyssa Callaway, daughter of a mobile phone billionaire, is a great horseback rider, so when she switches places with poor, orphan Amanda Lemmon, her father is surprised at how terrible she is at horseback riding, thanks to Amanda pretending to be Alyssa. When Alyssa pretends to be Amanda, Diane, a social worker from Amanda's orphanage, is also surprised at how good Amanda is at horseback riding.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life has a scene where Lara sets out riding her horse around her considerable family estate.
  • The Villain Max Zorin from the James Bond film A View to a Kill owns a horse ranch where he routinely breeds and sells quarter horses. It is at this ranch that Bond notices a private deal between Zorin and Bond Girl Stacey Sutton.
  • When the hero of The Choice races to the heroine's house to propose to her, he finds her coming back from a riding lesson, driving home how wealthy she is. (Though he already knew this and is hardly poor himself)

    Literature 
  • Jack Woltz, a movie producer in The Godfather, does racehorse breeding, which indicates his wealth.
  • Veterinarian Siegfried Farnon, apart from having been given his name by opera-loving parents with a thing for Richard Wagner, is depicted by James Herriot as very patrician and extremely horsey, a man of good social background who is intuitively in tune with horses in a way the more proletarian Herriot freely admitted he wasn't.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey stories, Lord Peter's equestrian skills crop up occasionally. In Have His Carcase he makes deductions from a horseshoe Harriet finds, finds the horse that lost the shoe, rides it bareback as part of reenacting the crime, and manages to stay on and bring the horse back under control when it utterly panics and bolts away from the murder site.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Justified by the setting's ecology making horses extremely rare and expensive. Most people make do with crustacean draft animals; only the wealthiest or elite warriors get horses; and the luckiest get Ryshadium horses, which are much stronger, nearly Sapient, and very choosy about their riders.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fallen Princess Caroline from 2 Broke Girls still keeps her horse Chestnut just outside her and Max's apartment, despite having lost her wealth.
  • Downton Abbey: Lady Mary Crawley is a lord's daughter. As is typical of her class, Mary is a master horsewoman. Fully evidenced in Series 1, when she charges and leaps a hedge riding side-saddle whilst out hunting with their guest and Turkish diplomat, Kemal Pamuk. Her skills are also tested at the Canningford point-to-point in episode 6 of Series 5, where she is pitted against her society rival, Mabel Lane Fox. She nails it and wins.
  • On The Good Place, the wealthy Brit Tahani mentions that of course she had a stable full of horses growing up, but they were only ever used to pull carriages and perform in horse ballets (dressage). Nevertheless, this helps establish her as posh and upper-class.
  • Played for Laughs on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy's rich boyfriend Logan appears in equestrian gear at one point, before the camera pans out to show him on a tiny pony.
  • Veep: Selina Myers, the titular Vice President, is from a very privileged background. Growing up she had a beloved pony, and she still resents her mother for selling it.

    Music 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's ditty '"Buckingham Blues" mentions HRH Prince Charles as being somewhat accomplished at the upper-crust sport of polo in the second stanza:
    "Chuckie wants to grow up / And be a polo star,
    "And ride his little horsies / All around the backyard, oh yeah."
  • In "Daughter of Evil," Princess Riliane has a beloved horse named Josephine, one of the few beings she treats kindly.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

    Theatre 
  • In The Little Foxes, Ben suggests this when discussing what to do once the money from the cotton mills starts rolling in:
    "I think I'll have a stable. For a long time, I've had my good eyes on Carter's in Savannah. A rich man's pleasure, the sport of kings, why not the sport of Hubbards? Why not?"

    Video Games 
  • Played with in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel with the school's Riding Club. The only member of Class VII in the club is Jusis Albarea, the son of Duke Albarea, one of the most influential nobles in Erebonia. However, Jusis plays with this trope due to being the bastard child produced from Duke Albarea's affair with a commoner woman. There are two other members besides Jusis, the club captain Lambert, who is also nobility, and Paula, a commoner female student.

    Web Animation 
  • The Weebl song "Amazing Horse" features a dapper gentleman trying to impress a woman with his Cool Horse.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls: While never seen actually riding any of them, Pacifica Northwest of the incredibly rich and corrupt Northwest family owns a number of horses, whom she deeply loves. Following her family losing the majority of their cash in the finale thanks to her father's greed and cruelty finally catching up with him, she is visibly distraught to discover she can only keep one.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield", Marge manages to befriend some old upper-class classmates of hers, and the family is considered for membership of the country club. Lisa is cynical at first (thanks to the spoilt brats she sees around her), but is quickly won over by the chance to ride horses.

    Real Life 
Note: Real-life examples should be limited to modern (i.e. post-automobile) examples of people who are otherwise notable for wealth or position and who have substantial achievements in equestrianism.note 
  • The British Royal Family supplies two prime examples of champion dressage riders — and they're mother and daughter:
    • Anne, the Princess Royal (only daughter of HM The Queen) won silver and gold in the European Eventing Championships in the 1970s. She also represented Great Britain in eventing in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, making her the first British royal to participate as an Olympian.
    • Princess Anne's daughter Zara Tindall (née Phillips) is also a champion eventer, and is even more accomplished than her mother; in addition to European gold (both team and individual), she won gold in the World Championships in the mid-to-late 2000s, and was part of a Great Britain team that won silver at the 2012 Olympics in London (leading to a charmingly funny situation where she got her medal from her own mother).
  • Bruce Springsteen's daughter Jessica Rae is a champion show jumper (although she didn't quite make the American Olympic team for 2016). The Boss even bought a horse farm in part to support his daughter's career. (A bigger part was a desire to return to his childhood home area of Monmouth County, New Jersey, and as it happens, New Jersey has very generous exemptions from its otherwise astronomical property taxes for farmers — including horse farmers. In fairness to Bruce, horse farming is very traditional in Monmouth County—among other things, it's home to two of three of New Jersey's active racetracks—so it's less "taking advantage of a tax loophole" and more "my desire to live where I grew up combined with my daughter's career give me a reason to do this thing that happens to reduce my taxes.")

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