As I was washing my horse’s tail a few days ago I was thinking about how I was out of conditioner and considered taking my horse’s conditioner home to tide me over until payday. I had to chuckle. I wondered if my husband had any idea what he was getting into when we bought Gangster. If he really knew what it meant to date a woman in love with horses. To date an equestrian, horsewoman, cowgirl, whichever is your preferred term. Here are four things I’m pretty sure he never anticipated when dating (and deciding to marry) a horsewoman. I may not have owned a horse when we met, but once a horsewoman, always a horsewoman.
- Horsewomen are resourceful. You may notice things that belong in the barn creep into the house. In the winter you can expect that, from time to time, a blanket will make its way inside to dry after getting soaked from a sudden downpour or blizzard. Also, unless you as the significant other, have set the rule that horse blankets are not to be laundered in the regular washing machine, then you can expect blankets will find their way into your washing machine. Imagine all that sweat and mud and urine and manure rinsing off the blankets and down the drain. Well, mostly going down the drain. Kind of a gross thought, huh? As much as I feel like I am betraying my equestrian sisterhood, the rule against home laundering of horse blankets should probably be put in place. You might also notice other tack items migrating into the house. The warm (or air conditioned) house is always so much more comfortable than the cold-as-the-great-white-north (or hot-as-blazes) barn when it comes to oiling a saddle. Or five. Sub point here, even though your horsewoman may only have one horse, she will have multiple saddles. And many, many, bridles. It’s just the way it is. Don’t try to argue about how she should sell a couple of the saddles. If she has more than one horse, there will always be more saddles and bridles than horses. And of course, like I said, don’t be surprised when the horse conditioner (or shampoo) makes its way onto your shower shelf.
- Horsewomen are particular. A boot is not just a boot. And only one kind of boot would never do. Working with horses requires multiple types of boots. We need muck boots that can get wet and muddy and can trek through the back quagmire to retrieve the damn naughty pony without getting our socks wet. But we also need regular cowboy boots for everyday riding and working our horses. And then of course there are the boots we need for showing. We can’t use the regular old working boots for showing. And if we are showing in different disciplines, then we’ll need multiple types of show boots. Plus there are the everyday running-errands boots. And the more fashion-focused boots to wear to the office, if your horsewoman works in one. What can I say, we need boots. Lots of them. Just buy us boots, we’ll always be happy with that gift. In fact, don’t buy flowers. Buy boots. Just make sure you know which brand your horsewoman likes.
- Horsewomen are small girls in love with horses trapped in adult women’s bodies. And with actual wallets that occasionally have money in them. So you can expect that we will be drawn to any history or activity centered around horses. True horsewomen appreciate the species in all it’s glorious and celebrated capacities. While on vacation, is there a horse drawn carriage, rodeo, or ride on the beach anywhere within a 30 mile radius? You can find us lingering at the information booth wondering how much it costs and assessing how well the horses are taken care of. (We will not fork over the cash if we deem the horses poorly treated, underfed or otherwise sad looking). The activity might not even cost money. Sometimes it’s just a photo op. Like taking photos with New York City’s finest: the mounted police.
- Horsewomen are passionate. For us, it’s not “just a horse.” And you would do well to never utter those words. Lest you want to see a particularly bitchy (okay, bitchier) side of us. Our horses are our best friends, our therapy, our gym, our challenge and joy and frustration. Our horses are like family. We want to talk about our horses all the time because it’s our passion and life-love and makes us joyful in the depths of our soul. You don’t have to “get it,” you just have to accept it and not mock it. Better yet, support it. I can assure you, we are much happier people having horses in our lives. Despite what we may say after a particularly bad ride, or a high vet bill, or an especially grumpy barn mate. We would never trade in horse ownership for a little more money or a tidier house. Owning and caring for horses is too much work to be for the faint of heart. Only those with the strongest of desire will stick with it. You can count on that passion overflowing into other areas of our lives. We may be opinionated and bossy and stubborn. These are not bad qualities (despite what some people may have us believe). These are the qualities that make leaders, business owners and damn fine human beings.
Also, if you find yourself dating, or married to a horsewoman, you should know that you will be asked to go to the barn for one reason or another, usually exactly when you absolutely do not want to go to the barn. Like in the middle of a football game. If it’s just to help with chores, you might be able to negotiate your way out of it. If it’s to watch her and be supportive of her during a horseshow, just go. That football game no longer exists. Also, prepare yourself for the fact that she will never have money to buy you dinner because she spent it all on her horse. But her company will always more than make up for it. And lastly, if you have a truck and she doesn’t, please know that regular use of your truck will be an expected part of the relationship arrangement.
But horsewomen are some of the best women. They are wild and free and bold and outspoken. They are eternal dreamers and still believe in the magical, mystical ways of nature. We’re all just trying to harness a bit of that freedom that horses represent, and hold it in our souls.
What are some of the things you have noticed?
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