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.
As long as by “alone,” we’re not counting these guys.
- 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.
- 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.
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.