Wherever there are horse people, there are sure to be non-horse people jumping away from each pony snort. And God bless ‘em, because the equine world they have to learn in order to keep up with their horsey loved ones can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, beyond the cramming required to learn the difference between hacking and tacking, there is also a secret set of rules to memorize and embrace. And after decades of a sweaty, muck-covered daughter, sister, friend, and girlfriend, my loved ones could ace any test on them.
1. Does Time Exist at the Barn?
- Sort of
Sure, I’ll be home soon, if by “soon,” you mean right after I scrub this snaffle. And chat with horse people. And clean the horse’s boots. And feed him mints. And if it’s hot, wait for him to dry while he stands in front of a fan like Beyoncé and I hand-feed him little fistfuls of hay. And if it’s cold, spend eight minutes deciding not to blanket. And then run back inside because I decide the baby does need his blanket. But yeah, sure, then I’ll be right home. Gosh, it sure got dark fast. Oh, it’s 9 p.m.?
2. How much money is reasonable to spend on riding?
- A sensible amount
- A good chunk of change
- How much is in the account again?
“How much do you think this cost me?” I ask my boyfriend, waving a horse show ribbon back and forth like I’m going to hypnotize him into surprising me with a horse. ”How much do you think this objectively worthless, bulk-bought item cost me?” He suggests some numbers. ”No,” I say. And I’m laughing, because they’re funny, the tiny numbers he’s suggesting. “Not even close.”
Some nights I drive home in the dark beating myself up about a bad lesson that, yes—I paid for. And some months, sure, I could be leasing a really, really nice car instead. But to me, it’s worth every penny. Maybe I won’t replace my phone until mine is clinging to this sweet earth for dear life. But an ungodly expensive foam half pad? A clinic? Hand me my wallet. Get me my checkbook. Just fill in the numbers for me. I don’t want to see.
3. I might skip a lesson if:
- Something hurts
- It’s too hot/cold/wet
- I physically cannot move and my car has exploded
Where did those stirrup leather-shaped bruises come from? What about that post-lesson pain in my back? That dented, hoof-shaped area of my leg with no sensation? What about the time I fell asleep on the bedroom carpet for an hour after riding in the heat and my boyfriend thought I was dead?
What are you talking about? I don’t know what those things are from, but they’re definitely not from riding. Also, yes, my headache disappeared just in time for my lesson. That cold I was sure I was getting at work–gone! My hip doesn’t hurt anymore at all! Until I get home. Then everything hurts again and I’m dying. Will you bring me some Gatorade?
Kudos to the horse-lover-loving folks who selected all (c) answers—the ones who pick chestnut hair from the lint trap, who ignore the saddle pads drying in the bathroom, who wait to start dinner, and who accept the justification of obscene costs. They come bearing Advil, they delete from the DVR not one, but three copies of the Central Park Horse Show and “Running with Horses – Gallop through meadows, deserts, and the wild with horses in magnificent HD” (once we’ve watched, of course), and most importantly, they politely ignore our insanity. They’ve learned well, and we salute them. A-plus.
Liked this article? Here are others you’ll enjoy:
Misconceptions about Horses from Non-Horsey People
30 Ways to Balance Family and Friends
Being Horsey in a Non-Horsey Family
Emily Bogenschutz lives in Texas and is a freelance writer, recent hunter-turned-jumper, and professional sneaker of saddle pads into the washing machine. Follow her on Twitter: @EJBog.