Weird Horse Kid or Completely Normal?

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Like many barn kids, it was obvious at a young age that I was going to be spending a lot of time alone due to a chronic inability to shut up about horses.

Weird Horse Kid Stuff
As long as by “alone,” we’re not counting these guys.

And this was probably for the best, as unless I was at a funeral or strapped into the dentist chair, it was pretty much guaranteed that I was going to embarrass the living daylights out of the rest of my family. Because since my parents made it clear I could not remain at the barn all 24 hours of every day, I compensated by regularly engaging in the kind of odd pony kid behavior that seals your fate as being known as the weird horse person forever:

  • Jumping every remotely jump-shaped object, sometimes while pitching forward into a two-point position. Branches on the ground, curbs, bushes, piles of pillows, cracks in the sidewalk, stacks of laundry bins, actual jumps in the ring—all fair game. Extra points if you occasionally refused, circled, and re-approached.
  • Cantering with my fingers. When I couldn’t run around and jump things, at least I could canter around a desk with my fingers. Who might I have become if I hadn’t spent endless class time teaching my fingers to canter in three accurate beats instead of paying attention? A big non-horsey twerp, that’s who, and no one I want to know.
  • Bottom half = horse. Upper half = mostly human. Far beyond the jumping featured above, this included head tossing, pawing, pretending to spook at plastic bags and rustling foliage, using sticks as crops to smack one’s leg until it turned red, and giving one’s thigh affectionate pats. Occasionally involved pretending to have a bit in one’s mouth by looping a necklace between one’s teeth.
  • Working horses into every school assignment. Examples: For a project, we observed a pet for 30-45 minutes each day and drafted reports on its activity. Obviously, I picked my horse. Earth-shattering observations ranged from “eating hay” to “sniffs me, probably for treats; continues eating hay.” I also remember a short story about life in colonial Boston. Bingo, I thought: Colonial Boston = old timey = no cars = horses everywhere. So naturally, 90% of the paper was spent describing my horse, feeding my horse, grooming my horse, and tacking up my horse for the day. It was only once I hit the max word count that I realized I better at least wave hello to Paul Revere (and his horse, Scheherazade) before I failed. And while we’re on the subject…
  • Developing a weird knowledge of famous horses in history, certainly to the exclusion of other information. Beyond Scheherazade, there was Cincinnati (Ulysses S. Grant), Comanche (sole survivor of Little Bighorn), Traveller (Robert E. Lee), and even Macaroni (the Kennedy pony). And you better believe I scrutinized the equitation in sepia photos and on war monuments.
  • Horse doodles on horse doodles on horse doodles. To this day. To this very day. The only difference is I no longer draw a heart around my horse’s name and my name, separated by a plus sign (weirdness level: professional). JK, yes I do.
  • Weird Horse Kid Stuff
  • Mentally repurposing every golf course and backyard as my imaginary equine property. “So you can have horses here… but you don’t want them? But… Why don’t you… have them?”
  • Leaving horse catalogs out with wanted items subtly indicated. “What’s that, Mom? I left the Dover catalog on the table? With pages dog-eared? And the entire description of that bridle colored in neon highlighter? With stars drawn in the margins? Oh, no. You were never meant to see that. How embarrassing.”
  • Counting imaginary strides between speed bumps or driveways. Or actively speeding/slowing pace to find a nice distance to step over the transition line between carpet and tile. Is this weird? I can’t even tell anymore. [Editor’s note: No. No it isn’t.]
  • Literally losing my mind every time I saw a horse. “Where did Emily go?” If there was a horse in a 5-mile radius, the answer was obvious—police horses, carriage horses, equine-powered hayrides, petting zoo ponies, passing trail rides, donkeys, horses in magazines, horses on television, and heaven help us if a horse appeared in any popular film. All of the foregoing caused me to put everything down and obsess. And still does.
Weird Horse Kid Stuff
Even when dresses are involved.

Full disclosure, I still do almost all of these things. Do they ring any bells? Did you do any weird horse-related things as a kid that didn’t make it on the list? Let us know, so we can reassure ourselves they’re normal. Completely normal.

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.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Me, too, Felicia! And can’t believe I forgot to add forcing pets to practice gridwork over couch cushions, etc. Our poor non-horsey pets!

  2. Pretended to ride everywhere our car went.I would lay my head against the window and imagine how I would ride the terrain on the shoulder of the road.

  3. My friends told me I could turn ANY conversation to the topic of horses (I still do it occasionally to stay sharp). Whinnied like a horse and sometimes a horse answered back. Liked shredded wheat because it looked a little like hay – had to be the large biscuits.

  4. Oh, yes, absolutely!! I still see places along the road, while driving somewhere, that I feel should be repurposed to equine property! And I still have all my old Breyer models : )

  5. This really made me laugh, as I did do some of these. Cantering and jumping over objects, and yes, if there was a horse nearby I was there. Alas, there was no money for me to have a horse of my own, but if my parents met someone with a horse, I was introduced. Did anyone do this? My Dad was in the military and at one time we lived in the country and had a cow. I rode that cow all around the field. No saddle or bridle of course, but what a great adventure. Thanks for the laughs as I saw myself in this article.

  6. Oh the memories…I did have a best friend who shared these “weird” activities and actually had two ponies. I almost lived at her house each summer. Heavenly!

  7. Love this! I remember spending the whole summer when I was 7 practicing the horse “sigh”. I would rear and whinny. My mom told me that some day I would marry a horse. And to this day, my husband (human, not equine, sorry Mom) and I count horses when we’re on a road trip. It’s called “Slobskies”. Learned it from an uncle.

  8. My daughter set up a jump course in our back yard with pool noodles set on bricks. She jumped this course so many times she killed the grass, much to her father’s dismay. She also had a whole room dedicated to her Breyer horse collection. Every time she would get a new one she would make it it’s own blanket and a halter and lead rope out of yarn.

  9. I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face the day I galloped down the hall and “jumped” a stool in the hallway, landing by putting a hole in the bedroom door with my knee.
    In 4th grade, 2 other girls and I formed a Horse Club. We had a president, a vice-president, a secretary, a favorite color and a favorite number. Best of all, we named our bikes (I think mine was called Golden Fleece), and rode furiously around the subdivision, having horse races.

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