Things Horse Owners Do

Horse Hair Brush

As horse owners and riders, we perform amazing feats, like barrel racing, jumping, and halter breaking weanlings. Yet we also do some things that cause non-horsey people to gasp, shudder or raise an eyebrow. Have you participated in any of these activities?

Treat Sampling

Much like wine tasting, you allow your sophisticated palate to determine the horse cookie that best suits your favorite equine. You scoff at the bold print on the package that states, “Not for human consumption,” and pop half a cookie into your mouth. Is there a proper balance between beet pulp and alfalfa fiber? Does it leave a crisp aftertaste of apple on your tongue? Only your taste buds know.

Hasty Hair Days

Your riding lesson ran late, and you’re dealing with a bad case of Helmet Hair. There’s no time to run home and indulge in a proper shampoo and blow dry. So, without hesitation, you reach into your tack box, grab your horse’s tail brush and drag it across your scalp. You could potentially weave wiry chestnut horse hair into your coiffure, but so what?

Finally, since you can’t find your fancy barrette—again—you contain your ponytail with the elastic band hidden at the bottom of your horse’s tail bag. Voila! You’re good to go.

Language Development

As a horse person, you’ve integrated equestrian lingo into your daily dialogue. An observant sociologist might say you communicate in Barnspeak. For example, you cluck to your car—and expect it to accelerate—when approaching a yellow light. If a riding pal appears to be limping you’ll ask if their navicular is flaring up. Unfortunately, Barnspeak can be misconstrued by a perplexed public. Recently, you described your neighbor’s dog as “sweet, but a poor mover” and dismissed a potential suitor because he had “bad conformation.” Indeed, you might consider wearing a muzzle at non-horsey social events.

Going There

Whether it’s at the end of a long trail ride or midway through a marathon horse show, sometimes nature calls and you simply have to go. Unfortunately, you’ve been inside too many port-o-potties that left you starved for oxygen, and the off-kilter stance of the one nearby looks ominous. Without further contemplation you boldly go inside the horse trailer, where so many horsewomen have gone before. Luckily, you had the foresight to spread a bag of fresh pine shavings over the trailer mats that morning. This beats the ghastly port-o-potty any day.

Do these scenarios sound familiar?

Perhaps you’ve done something else that would make your mother roll her eyes in horror. Regardless, we won’t tell. Such is the secret life of everyday equestrian.

During her lengthy show career on the hunter/jumper circuit, Cindy Hale won more than 20 medals for hunt seat equitation. She currently serves as a judge at local and regional open horse shows.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


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