When Non-Horse People Answer Questions about Horses


Lord knows our non-horse-obsessed friends and family have to suffer through more than their share of equestrian chatter. After years of involuntary education, I wondered how mine would do with some basic horse questions. So I polled a few of my favorites (including my fiancée) and found out: (1) What I think is basic and what is actually basic are two different things, (2) my friends can be pretty good guessers, (3) my friends think they’re funny, and (4) I have a lot of work to do.

Selected responses follow below. Lesson learned: Slow it down for the non-equine-inclined set—they’re (sometimes) trying. And, as evidenced by answers to a question not selected for this article, don’t ask about a “hock” unless you want four answers with the word loogie in them.

By way of introduction, briefly describe your most memorable horse-related experience.

Guy: Going horseback riding with [his wife] for her birthday.

Jason: Watching my mother try to dismount [a horse] in Denali National Park, fall off, and break her ankle.

Ashley: My mom felt compelled by a pair of white kids’ cowboy boots, so she bought them and signed me up for lessons. It was great until it set my dad’s allergies off.

Julia: Our friends have some family members who own a horse farm… the look on [our daughter’s] face when she saw those horses in person was unforgettable. When she got to feed one a carrot, her squeals were the highlight of my year.

Lauren: Every horse experience I have had is scary. They are all memorable for that reason… They always revolt when I’m on top.

Fiancée: Your face when I refused to wear a helmet when we took a trail ride in Whistler. And my face when we ran into a bear on that trail ride and I realized I had no helmet on.

What are polo wraps?

Ashley: Best guess is wraps that go around polo sticks.

Lauren: Ralph Lauren underwear.

Guy: You misspelled the Spanish word for chicken.


Name a few horse treats.

Everyone got this right with some variation of carrots, apples, sugar, mints, and hay. Although, note to self, perhaps Guy shouldn’t be responsible for bringing the treats.

Guy: Hay, haystacks, needles in haystacks.

What’s a martingale?

Ashley: Wait — isn’t that a bird?

Fiancée: I don’t even know how to pronounce this. How can I be expected to know what it is?

Julia: It’s the name of a bourbon-based cocktail sold at bars in Brooklyn. It’s used to get hipsters drunk.

What’s the difference between hunters and jumpers?

Julia: They’re different types of horses? Or riders? Or boots?

Ashley: Simple. Hunters hunt and jumpers jump. (This snarky answer is actually brilliant, right?)

Lauren: Useful vs. pretty.

Jason: Self-explanatory.


What’s dressage?

Ashley: Horse clothes and accessories.

Fiancée: Pony dancing… Think Lipizzaners from Crimson Tide. Also it’s that event where all those men wear silly clothes.

Julia: Something fancy. Like when horses dance maybe?

Guy: Mitt Romney.

If I tell you I’m going to go hack, what do I mean?

Fiancée: Riding around for fun when you don’t have a lesson.

Julia: Obtain entry into a horsey database.

Ashley: Just run around all willy-nilly.

Jason: Barf.

Who is George Morris?

Guy: Author of Game of Thrones, notoriously slow writer.

Ashley: Your mom.

Fiancée: That old man you like to watch on YouTube who screams at little girls. I think he wrote some book you enjoy, too.

What’s a hand?

Ashley: I KNOW THIS. I think. It’s the unit of measurement for horse height.

Fiancée: The thing you measure a horse’s height by.

Julia: The distal end of the primate upper extremity.

Lauren: Horsie paw.

What’s a gelding?

Jason: Traditional white fish served at Passover.

Fiancée: A neutered pony?

Julia: A baby geld.

Guy: A eunuch horse. A few elite ones may become viziers.

Racing Sripe

What is the white mark on this mare’s face called?

Fiancée: Brown with white.

Guy: Toothpaste, probably.

Julia: Racing stripe.

Lauren: Widow’s peak.

Jason: What’s a mare?

“What’s a mare?” How long have we been friends? It’s when the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie, Jason. That’s a-mare.

Related: Pop Quiz for Friends and Family of Horse Lovers >>

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.




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