Five-Ring Circus

Best Jobs at the Olympics: Horse


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Nominee: Horse.

Where to find him: Olympic Equestrian Centre.

Job description: Jump over obstacles, be compliant, eat your weight in oats.

Why this might be the best job at the Olympics: You have a very important role. As a horse, you are the linchpin of the Olympic equestrian events. These events are entirely contingent upon your participation. Without you, a horse, Olympic equestrianism would consist of little humans in funny costumes scrambling across grass and dirt and jumping over small fences while an extremely odd version of “Smooth” plays in the background. Nobody would watch that. Actually, lots of people would watch that. But equestrianism would make even less sense than it does now, and it makes very little sense even with you, the horse, doing all the horse things you do so well.

You will live very well as a horse at the Olympics. According to the Los Angeles Times, you may well live “better than anyone at the Rio Games.” Your stall will be quite roomy. You will drink “filtered water flavored to [your] tastes.” You will be groomed by a professional groom, enjoy massages and acupuncture treatments, and have “at least a half-dozen people in Brazil looking out for [your] best interests.” You will have nothing at all to complain about, unless your masseuse has cold hands, and if he does, you can easily swap him out for a warm-handed masseuse. Nothing will be too good for you, a horse.

As a horse, you will get ridden, hard and often. You will probably enjoy this, given that you are a horse. As a horse, there is nothing worse than being idle, and you will not be idle at the Olympics. Inthe sport of eventing, you will jump over many obstacles: fences, other fences, small pools of water. When you are not jumping, you will trot, and canter, and occasionally pirouette in an artistic and rhythmic fashion. You will get a lot of exercise as an Olympic horse. You will sweat, but you will never be as exhausted as, say, a 1,500-meter runner. This is not the hardest job at the Olympics. You will get patted on the head.

You will get a lot of respect as an Olympic horse. No, not a horse: an “equine athlete.” Though the equestrian events are often derided by people who question the riders’ athleticism, you, a horse, will always get your due. “The horse should get the medal, because the horse is the one who does all the work,” they will say. Perhaps they will start a petition. You will not be able to read the petition, as you are a horse, but knowing the petition exists will be satisfaction enough. (You will not know the petition exists.)

You will do a lot of television. You will develop an international fan club. Horse-crazy teenagers will go crazy over you, a horse. “Look at that horse!” they will say. “C’e il cavallo! C’e il cavallo più bello del mondo!” they will say in Italy.

As a horse, you will never have to endure a banal post-competition interview. You will be unique among Olympic athletes in your exemption from this dull duty. You will watch from the sidelines as your rider is beset by dumb questions like “How did it feel to ride that horse?” and “Is there a good rapport between you and the horse?” You will watch, perhaps covered in a blanket, perhaps getting a massage. How you spend your free time is really up to you, a horse.

As a horse, you will get to prance around naked all day.


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Why this might not be the best job at the Olympics: Though everyone will look at you, a horse, few of the gawkers will know your name. “The brown one” or “the black one” is how they will refer to you. The anonymity and objectification will drive you crazy. You will want to speak up, but, since you are a horse, you will be unable to do so.

Your reward for victory will be filtered water and perhaps a sugar cube, which, while presumably satisfying to you, are still poor substitutes for Olympic medals or money. You will never be elected flag bearer in the parade of nations, even though you would be great at it. As a horse, you will often be denied the respect you feel you deserve.

You are a horse, and, as such, you have no agency. You will go where they tell you, and where they tell you to go will be a stall in a stable. It is a roomy stall, but it is still a stall. You will not get to mingle much with the other horses in the Olympic Village. You will not have sex with the other horses in the Olympic Village. There are a lot of things you won’t get to do as a horse.

Being a horse is not actually a job.

How this could be a better job at the Olympics: The horse could get to ride the rider once in a while.

Verdict: I’ll give the job of horse 1.5 out of 3 for exposure, since horses do not generally appear on boxes of Wheaties. 3 out of 3 for enjoyment, since at one point or another we have all said to ourselves, “Gosh, I bet it would be fun to be a horse.” 3 out of 3 for enviability, because I would kill to have someone groom me each morning. And -1 out of 1 in the category of “Do you get to wear a cool hat,” because horses don’t wear little hats, but their riders do, and that inequity probably eats those horses alive. 6.5 out of 10 for the horse. This is not the best job at the Olympics.

Update, Aug. 20: It has come to my attention that Olympic horses do, in fact, wear tiny hats. They’re called “ear bonnets.” They resemble a version of a classic Viking helmet meant for a medieval knight who is also a horse. The bonnet fits over the horse’s ears, blocking out distracting sounds and shielding it from bugs. Originally, I awarded horse a -1 out of 1 in the category of “Do you get to wear a cool hat.” I have revised that score upwards, to 1 out of 1, thus bringing horse’s total score to 8.5 out of 10. Being a horse is currently the best job at the Olympics.

*Correction, Aug. 20, 2016: This post originally and incorrectly stated that Olympic horses do not wear tiny hats. Olympic horses do wear tiny hats.

Previously in Best Jobs at the Olympics:

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