Follow TV Tropes

Following

Upper-Class Equestrian

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/maryhorse_9.png
Look at my horse! My horse is expensive!

"[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."

If you want to show that a character is posh, privileged background, or suggest that they are Blue Blood aristocrats, a good way to do this is to give them a well-groomed 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) or going on The Grand Hunt 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 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 ranch or are a member of a nomadic people).

Often Played for Laughs when the owner is an 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. This is also a subtrope of Snobby Hobbies. Luxury car brands such as Rolls-Royce, Cadillac and Maybach can be thought of as an update of this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto takes place in 1491-92, well before the invention of other modes of transportation, but even then most people did not own horses. Cesare Borgia comes from one of the richest families around. He not only has a lot of horses, he's very skilled and knowledgable with them. Scholarship Student Angelo, on the other hand, has very little experience riding, and in the first chapter, the two protagonists meet when Cesare saves Angelo from a Moody Mount. In the end of the manga, Cesare is training horses for a horse race, which he wins right around the day his father was elected Pope.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass is actually a member of the equestrian club in Ashford Academy, according to Rolo. However, it was rarely emphasized much throughout the show due to how viewers see him as being out of shape. Though there are a few scenes where he rides a horse such as the opening of R2.
  • Fukiko "Miya-sama" Ichinomiya from Dear Brother is in the equestrian club at school, and fittingly, she's also from a very wealthy family.
  • 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.
  • Ayaka of Negima! Magister Negi Magi 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.
  • 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.
  • The title character from Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs is British, and comes from a wealthy family. He also rides a robotic horse in to battle.
  • La Seine No Hoshi: Justified, since this is 1780s France. Robert gives Simone her signature White Stallion, and the nobles all travel by horse carriage.
  • Hello! Sandybell: As a display of Kitty Shearer's immense wealth, her father pays for her horse riding lessons. In contrast, Sandybell is poor and from a single parent household, but befriends animals through her own kindness.
  • Isabelle of Paris: The Laustins through horse pulled carriages, and Isabelle rides horses on her own. Justified since this is 18th-century France.
  • Voltes V: Prince Heinel is from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of 17th century France and has a white horse of his own. He rides it into battle in the Grand Finale.

    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 
  • Ajnabee: Both Raj and Priya's father bond over both being upper-class polo players, and the sport is portrayed as being noble and classy. Raj even travels around the world to play it, which is the reason why the couple moves to Switzerland soon after they marry.
  • In Charlie's Angels (2000), during the opening credits, one of the Angels, Alex (played by Lucy Liu) is introduced taking part in a horse riding competition and winning. Come the sequel, it is shown that Alex at least comes from a very rich family, since her boyfriend Jason pays a suprise visit to her large Californian house.
  • 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)
  • Exploited in the Swedish film Evil' when Erik gets revenge on Silverhielm by cornering him in the woods while he's riding his horse.
  • In the movie version of Hair, Claude meets Sheila while she and her family are riding through Central Park, in full English-style kit. This version of Claude, a farmer who hails from Oklahoma, catches a rental horse that got away from the Tribe. Berber see Claude catch it and encourages him to ride after Sheila.
  • 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 is riding her horse sidesaddle around her considerable family estate. Subverted when pop-up targets appear in the trees which she uses to demonstrate her Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • A Slight Case of Murder: One of Remy's more hated neighboring estate owners is a "gentleman jockey" who threw a race.
  • 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. Bond turns up to investigate posing as an Upper-Class Twit.
  • A Wedding (1978): The wealthy Dino's ex-girlfriend Tracy arrives at the wedding on horseback, wearing a nice riding outfit.

    Literature 
  • Fi Carroll from The Black Fox of Beckham lives with her wealthy parents in Kennilwood Manor, a seventy-five-acre horse farm that her great-great-grandfather purchased as a summer home. Fi has read extensively about horses in addition to being a talented rider, and shares a close bond with her horse Franny.
  • Jack Woltz, a movie producer in The Godfather, does racehorse breeding, which indicates his wealth. The Corleones put pressure on him by killing his latest acquisition and leaving its head in his bed in the middle of the night - one of the most iconic scenes of the entire story.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Tom Riddle Sr, Lord Voldemort's father, enjoyed horseback riding as a young man. He'd often go riding in the countryside near his wealthy family's estate. Sometimes he'd go with his girlfriend, Cecilia, or other times alone. Dumbledore speculates that on one of his solo outings Merope bewitched him into marrying her.
  • 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.
  • Malory Towers: Set in a school for the privileged and wealthy, Wilhemina (known as Bill) arrives at the start of term on horseback, surrounded by her brothers, who are also all mounted. She keeps her horse Thunder at the school.
  • Of Fire and Stars: One of the two protagonists is Tomboy Princess Mare, who's a horse lover and has trained them for years. As you might expect her name is self-chosen and reflects this. She then begrudgingly teaches Dennaleia, who's also a princess, how to ride. Mare's won forty three cachets, bracelets she has for horse-riding feats.
  • 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.
  • Cluedo:
    • In the first episode of series 2, the murder victim and Miss Scarlet are both on horseback when they meet.
    • This is central to the first episode of series 3, when the murder victim is a hunt saboteur, who sets off a firecracker, spooking Mrs Peacock's horse Phantom, who is then run over by a lorry. This incident is not seen, but Mrs Peacock is later seen in riding gear.
  • The Crown (2016): Depicts several female members of the British Royal Family as keen equestrians, which is Truth in Television as seen in the Real Life folder below. After her father's death Princess Margaret is seen riding a horse to meet with her lover, who arrived at the location in a car. Elizabeth II is often seen at the stables during the first season, and one episode goes into detail about her arranging to make one of her stallions available to stud. In the third season, Princess Anne is introduced striding through the palace in her jodphurs and riding boots.
  • Downton Abbey: Lady Mary Crawley is an earl'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.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Hyacinth often refers to her sister Violet who "has room for a pony", although she does not actually have a pony. In "Please Mind Your Head", Hyacinth and Richard wear riding gear to meet Elizabeth and Emmet, who are also in riding gear, having followed Hyacinth's instructions to "wear something tweedy". Hilarity ensues when Emmet insists they actually do ride horses, about which Hyacinth has no idea.
    Richard: Why not just tell them that we can't ride?
    Hyacinth: I don't know that I can't ride, I've never tried! There's every possibility that I might ride beautifully. The clothes fit.
  • Parks and Recreation: Pawnee's neighboring city Eagleton is full of rich snobs who are mentioned to have a "Department of Dressage" in their city government. Pawnee resident Leslie doesn't know what to do with it when merging the two cities comes up.
    Eagleton Resident: It is horse dancing, madam!
  • Scoundrels (2010): Mr. Hong's Trophy Wife Nina Hong is an equestrian by hobby, although she also uses it as an excuse to drive there with Cal to sleep with him. She also deliberately uses the whip to make herself look like a Dominatrix.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jean-Luc Picard, who's from a family of French winegrowers, is quite fond of horse-riding and even has his own saddle on the Enterprise that he uses for horseriding on the holodeck.
  • 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.

    Podcasts 

    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?"
  • The Merchant of Venice: One of Portia's unseen suitors, a Neapolitan prince, does nothing but talk about his horse and he is exceptionally proud of the fact that he can shoe it himself. Portia opines that this skill set may be the result of the prince's mother having an affair with a blacksmith!

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Ferdinand and Lorenz are the heirs to prestigious noble families (Ferdinand is the son of the Imperial Prime Minister, and Lorenz's father is the second-ranking member of the Leicester Alliance's roundtable), and both specialize in horse riding-based character classes.
  • 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 Elizabeth II) 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 who was the youngest member of the silver medaling US show jumping team during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Boss even bought a horse farm in the appropriately-named Colts Neck, NJ in part to support his daughter's career, as well as to get him back home to Monmouth County, N.J. and (incidentally) get a good deal on property taxes.note  Since Monmouth County is traditional horse country (more for the racetrack than showjumping, but whatever), opening a horse farm was a pretty obvious win-win-win for the Boss.
  • During the 2012 United States presidential election it was widely publicized that Mitt Romney's wife owned a dressage horse competing in the Summer Olympics. Comedians made much hay out of this, which reinforced Romney's preexisting image as an out-of-touch rich guy.

Top