4 Things Your Non-Horsey Friends Don’t Understand


It happens to everyone. You’re talking to an acquaintance and you suddenly realize that her eyes have glazed over. Your voice trails away and you wonder what you said to make the lights of interest disappear.

“I didn’t say anything rude, did I? All I did was tell her about that funny thing Blackie did the other day while I was getting him his hay…”

And then you realize—you’re talking to a non-horsey person.
It’s true that non-horsey people sometimes don’t understand the joy that we derive from equine companionship. Here are four more things that they just don’t understand:

Stall Mucking

1. The Beauty of Stall-Mucking

Even horse enthusiasts don’t always fully appreciate the daily duty of cleaning stalls. But when you look at it in the right light, you’ll see that even this messy task has a bright side.
Cleaning stalls provides ample time for you to daydream about things: the show next month, the clinic this weekend, or even to brainstorm names for a future foal. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with others at the barn.

Of course, there’s also the physical exercise that stall cleaning provides. Just think of all the money you’re saving by working out in the barn than in the gym. That alone could turn a non-horsey person in a proponent of equine-related exercise.

Feeding Grain

2. The Joy of Feeding

Feeding horses and ponies is not a thankless job. On the contrary, I get thanked every morning when I come into the barn carrying buckets of grain. As soon as they hear the rattle of their breakfast, the call goes up—the happy chorus of horses eager to dive in. You can hear the notes of gratitude and excitement in the shrill neighs and rumbling nickers, and when you do, the chore of feeding time suddenly doesn’t seem like a chore at all.

Winter Fuzzies

3. The Excitement of Shedding Season

You know that time of year when the snow has melted, the trees are beginning to leaf out, and succulent green shoots of grass are beginning to pop up from the ground? That time when you get to exchange your heavy outdoor getup for a pair of jeans and a T-shirt? That time called spring? In the North, it’s sometimes hard to remember that such a time of year exists, and even the sight of bare ground can’t convince you that winter is over until your horse’s long coat begins to shed.

Shedding season marks the arrival of spring. It means that all that dull winter hair will fall away to reveal the shiny beauty of your horse’s summer coat. It means that warmer days are coming, that the geese will soon be heading north, and that the days are growing longer. It’s nothing short of amazing to see a bird’s nest lined with horse hair. And most of all, it’s a vast relief to know that you have weathered the winter weather and are ready to meet summer with a smile and a shiny coat.

Woman and Horse

4. The Relaxation of ‘Horse’ Time

People always talk about needing “me” time; an hour or so spent alone, recharging, sitting with their feet up, reading a book, or painting their fingernails. But what non-horsey people don’t understand is that “me” time is actually “horse” time!

“Horse” time requires nothing more than a quiet barn and your best equine buddy. Whether you’re grooming your horse and admiring that summer coat or cleaning her stall while she stands nearby, you know there’s no better way to relax. So what if it is—technically—working? You still get to be with your horse, and that qualifies as recharging to you.

Liked this article? Here are others you’ll enjoy:
Misconceptions about Horses from Non-Horsey People
30 Ways to Balance Horses with Family and Friends

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow her on Twitter: @miraclewelsh.


  1. So absolutely true, I say it all the time. Except for my horse friends, no one understands..thankfully, my husband does!

  2. Not sure I appreciate shedding time but I sure enjoy feeding time. Nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that all my critters are happily eating.

  3. Great article! It never seems like work. After all the horses are fed, it is a wonderfully simple treat to listen to them munching on their hay.

  4. I know these things as I do them every week at Castlewood Stables and before this too. A good article yet I would have liked to see more than 4. In the 1st example you forgot to mention the smells that we all like and those who know do know what I’m talking about. People with little or no horse experience just do not understand how we could like the smells of wet hay or a wet horse or what all else there is.


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