Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In Praise of Horse Girls

Almost everyone who reads this blog is a horse girl.  If you aren't, you must at least like a horse girl (me), because why else would you read this?  Well, I suppose maybe there's someone in my readership who just enjoys ogling at the freak show, but I'm guessing that's a minority.

Horse girls get a bad rap.  We are constantly apologizing to the world and ourselves for being crazy. We say things like "gee these long days are great if only they weren't threatening my marriage, hahaha isn't that funny."  (It's actually not that funny, when you think about it, with my apologies to Ms. Schmidt, who is generally hilarious.)  Our priorities seem totally out of whack, we feel guilty for  all the time we spend at the barn, we worry about all the money we spend and how we are going to pay for whatever the next thing is (saddle, injections, entries, what have you), we make excuses for why we can't attend a non-horse event because there's some horse thing taking priority. We pretty much live our lives in a state of constant quasi-apology.

The thing is, there's nothing to compare horse ownership to.  Someone who restores old cars, for example, has a time-consuming and expensive hobby, but if the cars just sit in the garage for a week without getting worked on, no harm done.  Not so for a horse.  Someone who mountain bikes (don't ask me where this example came from, just a total random comparison) is gone all afternoon on a long ride, but again, the bike can sit in the garage all week.  And if the bike is acting funny, my guess is it's a hell of a lot easier to diagnose than mystery lameness.  It's impossible to relate to if you're not a horse person.  People say they understand that your horse relies on you... but deep down, they can't help but feel like the whole lifestyle is a little nuts.

So I'm going to take up a little space on the internet NOT apologizing or criticizing crazy horse girls today.  Because let me tell you, when the proverbial manure starts hitting the box fan, there is NO ONE I would rather have on my side than a crazy horse girl.

My horse girls are the most loyal people in my life.  This weekend, one of them drove all the way to my barn just to drop off Tucker's year end awards and say hi.  And she was totally happy to do it, cause she said it was a beautiful day and she was at a barn.  Last night, another horse friend stayed at the barn until O-Dark-Hundred so she could show me Tucker's hooves and explain what the farrier did differently yesterday morning.  That's right, she was there yesterday morning holding the horses for the farrier, and still met me at night too so she could explain.  She knew I was worried that Tucker seemed off up front jogging on hard ground last weekend (add that to his list of ailments), so again, she was happy to do it.  When Tucker was sick on Sunday, my horse girls were there for me.  These girls are literally holding me together.

I have had so many horse girls, near and far, reach out to me because they could sense from the post I wrote about Ethan and his horse (which I took down, because he asked me to) that things are not so great right now.  They've checked in, told me how sorry they are, given me support, offered me places to stay if I need it, and invited me over for dinner.  It ruffled some feathers, but I needed to write that post because I knew only my horse girls would understand my various emotions and thoughts on all of it.  Our therapist did her best, but she doesn't speak crazy horse girl.  Though she clearly understood the part about him withholding a big life decision from me, the rest of it was lost on her. She's good at her job, but she's not a horse girl.

Horse girls instinctively know what you need when you're going through a rough patch. They are amazing listeners. They'll debate any sort of horse-related minutia with you until you're both blue in the face. They'll sit in the tack room and run through courses of treatment and possible diagnoses and help you make a plan. They'll stand in the barn driveway and let you vent about how your life is falling apart, or make time for you on the phone, glass of wine in hand, whenever you need them. I guess it's because horse girls are just natural care takers. We take great care of our horses. And we take great care of each other.

Horse girls are each other's biggest fans. You all know what I'm talking about. Your barn friends are just as excited as you are when you have a great ride. They are encouraging, and motivating, and no one will cheer louder (or politely clap, as appropriate, depending on the discipline) for you than your barn girls. When one of my friends has a good ride, or nails a distance, or wins a class, or accomplishes a goal, or gets her horse gleaming white, I beam with pride. Her accomplishments feel like ours, together. I am so genuinely happy to help my horse friends when I can. Probably because I know they've got my back.

Horse girls are tough as nails, but also caring and tender.  We are hard-working, and fun-loving.  Goal driven, and patient.  We take big, hard hits -- to our egos, to our backs, to our wallets.  We bounce back.  We keep on going.  We struggle, we succeed, we win, we lose.  We get up at ungodly hours and do outdoor activities in the worst kinds of weather.  We text each other pictures of poop.  We help each other justify purchases big and small.  Most importantly, we understand each other.  In ways that the rest of the world sometimes doesn't.

The next time you feel an apology coming on, just remember how awesome you are.  How awesome this thing is that you're accomplishing: taking care of a horse, keeping him happy and sound, chasing your goals, making your passion such a huge part of your life.  It really doesn't matter if not everyone understands that.


  1. Love this! Horse girls for life!

  2. Awwww. I love this. It's all so true. Most of my close friends I met through riding, and we've stayed close for all of these reasons.

  3. Just. This. Is everything.

  4. This post really hits home for me right now. I appreciate how honest you always are!

  5. THIS. **insert preaching hands emoji**

    Yes, yes and yes. Love it!

  6. Perfectly written, perfectly expressed. Sometimes hard to live.

  7. *high5* & *hugs*
    Love this post!
    Big up the horse girl power - move over Spice come the Horse Girls ♡♡♡♡

  8. Yes!!

    It also makes me think about how I need more barn girls in my life since moving to my own place. Maybe I can put up a local craigslist add? "Crazy horse girl seeks another crazy horse to talk about... horses of course!"

  9. Ugh this gave me the negative feels :( I don't have any barn girls and the horse girls who were my "friends" abandoned me. At least I still have my horse and my riding bff who I can talk to online?

    1. All of us bloggers will be your virtual barn girls!

  10. Horse girls are for real the best.

  11. ALL THE FEELS... love this post!

  12. I love this post SO much... I am not a horse owner (currently) but by golly I am a Horse Girl to the bone. Nothing makes me happier than standing around jawing for hours about them. I live vicariously through my many friends who ARE horse owners. You name it, I'll talk about it or help or give advice or whatever! You know exactly how it is. It bores the rest of the universe to tears, even "horse-likers" who think they're fine and all but do NOT understand the obsession (read: my mother).

    Glad you have your obviously wonderful Horse Girl friends to keep things going right now!


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