Diagnosis…Horse Crazy: How Horses Creep into Our Everyday Lives
Whether you have grown up around horses or fallen in love with them later in life, one thing is for certain: the longer you are around them, the more you notice your equestrian lifestyle creeping into your non-equestrian life.
It may be subtle in the beginning. At first, you may not even notice. But then one day, you do something rather odd (to ordinary people) and think, “Wait. Did I just do that?” and then you shake it off until it happens again. And again. And again.
Eventually, you come to the conclusion that apparently, you’ve lost it.
Those four-legged beasts that have stolen a piece of your heart couldn’t possibly be leaving the barn through osmosis and making you do things that you never did before.
Or could they?
By this point, you need some serious reassurance. So, you call your best horse friend and say, “Something weird is going on. I’m starting to do things and think of things about horses when there isn’t one in sight.”
You wait for the certified diagnosis of crazy until your friend says enthusiastically, “I do that too!” and you breathe a sigh of relief and realize that you’re both crazy and that’s just what happens when you fall in love with horses.
If you are one of these people (and if you’re reading this, you most certainly are), you start to appreciate the multiple ways horses creep into our everyday lives. But are you truly horse crazy? Keep reading for your own diagnosis.
Equestrians have their own, very unique way of driving.
In fact, not only is it one of the first places we notice how horses creep into our everyday life, but it is also one of the main places, even when we aren’t hauling.
One of the earliest signs is the uncanny ability we have to notice a horse in a pasture, a barn or a horse facility in general, from miles away (okay, maybe not that far, but we have eagle eye vision for this kind of stuff for sure).
We can be driving anywhere, familiar or not, and will instantly notice when we see a horse or a barn or a fence or grass.
Then, we decide to play a game for extra points and slow down a little to check on their level of care, try to guess their breed, and try to determine their age.
As time goes on, (especially if you start showing), you start to realize that it’s not just horses and barns you notice while driving either.
You guessed it. Horse trailers on the road also start becoming “a thing.”
You can add to your bonus point game by trying to guess what show they might be going to based on the license plate or the direction they’re headed, even if you don’t know them.
And not only do you notice horses, barns, and trailers. You now also find yourself getting road rage at people who tailgate and cut rigs off.
A major scientific study (not really) revealed that these examples are most often the first two signs that horses are creeping into your daily life.
But don’t worry…it gets much worse. I mean, better.
You also tell your tire guy that the right hind on your truck needs replacing.
Mostly, equestrians stop driving their vehicles and begin to “ride” them.
If this is you (and you know it is), you have now come to the dark side.
But of course, there’s more.
Kids and Pets
Once horses have officially crept into and practically taken over the way you drive, you start to notice that they are now starting to dictate how you raise (and by “raise” I mean “train”) your children and your pets.
And it all starts with that magic little word our horses know so well…“whoa.”
It starts out simple enough. Your child is running away from you like an unbroke two-year-old, and you holler, “Whoa!”
Then you look around you to see if anyone noticed.
You chuckle (even though you are slightly alarmed at what just came out of your mouth) and think you’ll never do it again.
But you do.
And then one day, as you’re innocently walking your dog and a squirrel or a bird catches their eye and they take off like a stallion headed to the breeding shed, you scream, “Whoa!”
And again you look around you to see if anyone noticed.
At this point, you start wondering if life would just be a lot easier if you just trained both your kid and your dog to stop with the word, whoa. Game time again: You get bonus points if you try this.
But, horses have no boundaries when it comes to creeping their way into your everyday life and the word whoa is not the end all be all.
Although like noticing horses and barns, it is usually the first red flag, I mean, sign that you’re totally horse obsessed.
Eventually, you will begin to notice how your pets move, if they are good-legged, and what discipline they might best be suited for if they were a horse.
You also start to notice if they are on the wrong lead or cross-fire when they run, how their neck and head come out of their shoulders, and if they break at the pole.
And it doesn’t stop with living, breathing animals.
Yeah, you notice that artists are severely off when it comes to their horse creation skills and that most of the trusty steeds are behind the bridle, grabbing the bit, or have crests so large in their neck you are sure they are going to founder at any moment.
You also have no problem rinsing off just about any food that drops to the ground and subsequently feeding it to your kids (hello, carrots and apples), and we all know that lead ropes double as leashes for our dogs.
And If you’re lucky, all of this madness will start to rub off on your kids, and you will start to notice that instead of running, they are loping.
And if they are on the wrong lead, you correct them until they know their leads. (Game time again: bonus points if you teach them flying lead changes).
Every Other Place In Your Life
Once horses have crept into your vehicle, your parenting style, and how you deal with pets, just surrender to the fact that your life is over and horses will creep into virtually every other aspect of your everyday lives.
At the grocery store? You automatically track left first because that’s how you start in the show pen.
Need a storage container? A grain/water bucket will do the trick.
Hear a loud noise that you can’t see? Prepare to spook.
Refer to pregnant women as “in foal” or “broodmares” and couples as a “good cross?” People no longer just have regular parents, they are “by” their dad and “out of” their mom?
Yeah, by this point you can pretty much kiss your old, normal life goodbye.
And speaking of kissing, ever find yourself kissing or clucking at people to move out of the way or to just simply go faster?
You also aren’t above using medications intended for horses on literally every member of your family. This includes but is not limited to: husbands, kids, pets, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, etc.
And then there is the five point penalty rule. As we all know, blatant disobedience in the show pen results in a five-point penalty.
Don’t think this doesn’t creep into your everyday life because, obviously, it does.
Someone cuts you off in traffic? Five point penalty.
Your child back talks you? Five point penalty.
Your dog rips up the couch? Five point penalty.
Need I go on?
And it doesn’t even stop there.
If you find yourself relating or bringing every conversation about anything back to horses in some way; if you watch Hollywood award shows or Super Bowl halftimes and find inspiration for show clothes from the glamorous outfits (Lady Gaga pictured right…yeah, you thought it); if you schedule vacations around horse shows or who is available to take care of the farm; and if you can’t watch a horse movie without critiquing both the horse and the actor (um… he didn’t move his hip over before loping off), then, you, my friend, are suffering from an illness known as horse crazy.
And I hate to be the one to break this to you, but there is no cure.
The good news…there is a treatment. There are large support groups known as horse shows, where you can find others who are afflicted with the same condition. And when not at a horse show, the internet is enough to feed your addiction. See, you’re treating your horse crazy ailment just by reading this article.
So, don’t worry, this is a common illness among anyone who has fallen in love with horses and with a steady regimen of horse shows and horse show websites, you’ll be just fine.
About the Author
A Tucson, Arizona native Chenay started riding Pony Hunters at 6 years old until she found a passion for Paint horses in 1993. She began showing at APHA approved shows in November of that year and continued on with a successful Youth career until 2000. She went on to graduate from the University of Arizona in 2006 with a dual Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. Today, she lives in Yucaipa, California with her husband, son, and 8 animals, including a rescued APHA mare.