We’re familiar with this format. A group of sour faced, moody teenagers are sent somewhere uncomfortable and muddy to get shouted at by ruddy-faced adults. At first they resist and then they transform, usually for the better. This time, in a slight amendment to the format, there were also horses.
The programme focussed on three charming (I’m being sarcastic) teenagers. Sixteen year old Stacey, expelled from school and who had a penchant for fighting, her mother tells us (with a giggle, for some reason). ‘If some other lass fancies the same lad as Stacey, then that’s when she might fight’ she says, speaking as if Stacey were an animal, who would fight under particular circumstances. Or maybe at certain tides, or times of year? Sure enough, next time we see Stacey she’s at the Police Station after a fight. She’s says worriedly, ‘If I hit anyone else, I’ll go to jail for 90 days’. Oh Stacey, if only you had a clearer idea of what to do. Stacey’s not all bad though and seems to find comfort in her horses. Or her ‘orses’. One lucky horse in particular has had his likeness tattooed onto Stacey’s back.
Also expelled from school is the freckle-faced, Tyler, who comes from a ‘traveller background’ and likes to career through the town on his horse, bareback, like a bad, skinny Braveheart. Tyler wants to be a jockey and says if it wasn’t for this opportunity (Jockey School), he’d just be ‘riding around with horses and signing on the dole’. Wouldn’t we all.
Finally, there’s sixteen year old Shona. Poor Shona had been bullied out of school and into a pale shadow. Her only friend was her horse Gilly who, she said, doesn’t have a ‘bad bone in his body’, but then she tells a story about how two years ago Gilly bolted and threw her into a barbed wire fence. She hasn’t ridden since. Hmmm. Sounds a bit bad. Bad Gilly.
On arrival at Jockey School the teachers lay down some basic rules. Boys and girls are separated at night. No make-up to be worn. No fighting. Stacey says if they carry on telling her what to do, ‘someone will get punched in the face’. I’m betting she means it as well.
After a hard first day’s horsing around, Shona is crying with the pressure of it all. Isn’t horse riding supposed to be a hobby? Fun? You never see people sobbing over their stamp collections saying, ‘I’ve got to keep going! I can’t give up!’
On we go with the usual trials and tribulations. Stacey meets a boyfriend (the lovely Liam) and then threatens to ‘punch Bethan in the face’ for flirting with him. Alright Stacey, pack it in now, can you do anything else? Tyler gets called a ‘pikey’ but says he isn’t bothered and horse trainer Malc calls Shona ‘a wimp’. That’s a bit strong Malc. Poor Shona.
At the end, precious placements in the riding industry are handed out. Stacey is too naughty to get one, but feels she ‘has matured’. Shona is sadly too much of a wimp to get one, but is returning home ‘an adult’ and amazingly, Tyler actually gets a placement. His dad nearly cries. Nearly. He is a traveller after all.
So that’s horses taken care of then. I can’t help but think maybe they should all go back to actual school instead? All in all it was a bit of an obvious format, and lacking a bit in content, seeming to race from beginning to end without much of a conclusion. When it comes to moody teen programmes, I’ve seen better.