Perhaps it’s the economic climate we live in or simply one of those strange coincidences, but haggling over hacks seemed to be the big theme this week.
Unluckily for one guy – who wanted close to a 50% discount for an hour’s ride for four people seeing as the “place was dead” – he tried to negotiate with one of our livery clients, a client who happens to think our horses are priceless let alone worth every cent they earn carrying tourists on their backs. Naturally, she gave him short shrift before phoning me to explain.
“Did you tell him that the place was dead because it’s lunchtime and we don’t work our horses at the hottest part of the day?” I asked.
“Yes. I also laughed at his offer, told him this wasn’t a harbour-side kiosk and we don’t barter over horses.”
As it happened, this unfortunate gentleman wasn’t the only one to try and drive a bargain this week. Another group of tourists also tried to strike a deal, with no success. But though haggling is not unheard of, it is quite unusual, and to have a few similar inquiries in one week is striking. And it got me thinking.
I guess most people don’t actually know what goes on behind the scenes when they book a ride. They arrive, their horses are ready and waiting, they get on and go. But for the staff and horses, preparations begin an hour before any client turns up.
After being brought in from their paddocks, the horses are thoroughly groomed – not just to make them look pretty – but in order to ensure they are comfortable when tacked up. Any dirt under a saddle or the girth can be extremely irritating and, trust me, you don’t want to have an hour’s ride on an irritated horse. In this extremely hot weather, we may sometimes need to shower the horses before they go out. The grooming also allows our staff to check for any potential problems, such as scratches or sores from rolling in the paddock. Then, after a liberal coating of fly repellent the horses are tacked up. Again, this all takes time.
When the horses return from their hacks, most clients will see their new friends whisked off to a nearby stable to cool down a little as they return to the club house to do their own cooling down. But of course, the end of a hack isn’t the end of the story as each horse needs to be untacked, showered, returned to their paddocks, watered and fed.
Therefore, an hour’s hack is closer to three hours work for both staff and horses, and we never charge more should an extra pair of feet on the ground be required to accompany a group of complete beginners who wish to experience a ride out to the Sea Caves.
Of course, we all understand that times are tough – and it is actually a very Cypriot way of doing business to try and get a deal on something – but perhaps when the behind-the-scenes care and amount of time needed is taken into consideration it might be more apparent about who is really getting the bargain here.