How to Watch Horse Movies with Non-Horsey People

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“She really needs to get her heels down. And wear a helmet. And is she really riding in a tube top? Really?” These are all things you can say when watching a horse movie with your barn friends, but when you’re with your non-equestrian friends and family, maybe just let it go.

Congratulations! You finally did it. You convinced your friends or family to watch a horse movie one night instead of yet another installment of the endless Star Wars franchise. You’re excited, but your friends? Not so much.

In order to keep the night fun and entertaining for everyone (especially you), you need to know how to maximize the experience. So your friends aren’t horsey; that’s OK! They can still appreciate the wonders of equine cinema, if you just give them a little help.

Don’t Get Too Technical

It’s easy for an avid horse person to get swept up in the movie. You start seeing an actor making rookie riding mistakes (and trust me, you will) and you begin a spontaneous lecture on equitation. “See? You see that crazy guy? Look at his heels! Nobody rides like that!”

And your friends all look at you like you’re the crazy one. So it’s better to keep your professional opinions to yourself in situations like these, unless someone asks for it. Then, by all means, enlighten everyone! (Just don’t laugh if someone asks a totally beginner question. Not everyone knows the difference between a filly and a colt and some movies don’t do much to help clear up the confusion.)

Be Open to Criticism

When you’re the one who picked out the movie, it’s easy to feel like you have to stand up for it when your friends start criticizing. Like when someone in a movie says that she wants a minute alone with her horse before the Kentucky Derby, and everyone else steps aside while she looks deeply into the horse’s eyes as if she’s communing with his soul … you can expect some vocal derision from the crowd. But try not to rush into a lengthy explanation of the myriad ways that horses are incredibly intuitive creatures. Instead, just smile and keep watching.

Don’t Burst the Bubble

If all goes well, your friends will soon find themselves engrossed into the world of the movie, enjoying it and believing it. And while you may be watching and thinking, “Oh wow, that SO wouldn’t happen,” it may be wiser not to mention it.

For example, how about when a movie horse leaps a fifty-foot wide canyon to escape the evil bad guy. Of course no real animal could do such a thing. But is it really so awful if your friends don’t know that? Do you really have to burst their bubble? Why not let them feel the emotion and believe for a moment that horses are incredibly marvelous, majestic creatures capable of Superman-like feats of agility and athleticism? Because, after all, it’s not that far from the truth.

Maybe, just maybe, the movie you watch will turn your non-horsey friends into full-fledged horse people. And that alone is worth the price of admission.

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.

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