Ask the ‘Expert’: Your #1 source for terrible eventing advice

From Eventing Nation, my weekly pulpit for sharing the gospel of poor judgement and ill-advised persuasions.


After a brief interruption last week on account of the fact that our author was hungover and jetlagged, “Ask Leslie” returns this week with a brand new question.

Dear Leslie,

I’m a diehard eventing teenage girl. I spend every free minute of my life at the barn, shopping for tack, or reading about horses. My friends at school told me I’m a freak because I might possibly have just a little addiction to horses. I spend all my money on tack, clinics, boots, lessons, and anything else remotely related to horses. Did you ever deal with “freak” status when you were a high schooler?

Highschool Horse Girl

Dear HSHG,

I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to what you’re going through. High School is rough on anybody, but especially so for someone who chooses to march to the beat of a different drum. I don’t know what sort of extracurricular activities kids are into these days (when I was in high school, it was driving circles around the Walmart parking lot listening to Nirvana and feeling angry), but I can assure you, riding horses is way cooler than whatever it is your buddies are doing in their spare time. Of course, you already know that–the question is, how to convince them.

It’s been a pretty long time since I was in high school, and I’ve had a lot of concussions since then so my long-term memory is a little frayed at the edges. HSHG, I thought I’d call a lifeline and put you in touch with someone who might be a little more up-to-date.

McKenna Oxenden is a 15-year-old eventer who’s been writing a column for Horse Nation called “The Secret Life of McKenna & Dorito.” Last week, the title of her column was something like, “Gah, Nobody Gets Me: Why do my lame teachers and non-horsey friends keep trying to crush my riding dreams,” so I knew she’d understand your plight. I’m just going to let her take it from here:

Greetings Highschool Horse Girl,

I think I might be able to help you considering, A) I’m in high school, B) I am that girl. I’m sure to some people I’m classified as the “freak,” My best friend and I spend most of our first period quietly shouting across from each other, the topic generally being horses. Almost all of my school projects have something to do with horses, especially when it involves creative writing. And not to mention the amount of doodling I do… I totally and completely get you. Also, I saved up $800 just so I could go to O’Connor camp and almost no one understood.

I do have a few tips I think might be helpful. One, make sure horses aren’t the only thing you talk about. Of course horses are a huge part of your life and it’s cool to talk about them, but if your friends don’t understand horses it can be a bit frustrating.

Also, make sure you listen to your friends. You might not be into basketball, but if they are sit and listen and try and learn a little bit and then that way when you talk about horses they’ll return the favor.

Secondly, don’t let people stop your dreams. Horses are the biggest part of your life which means they are a huge inspiration, so if someone tells you to grow up or to stop chasing something so childish, just blow it off. I know it can be hard, especially if it’s said multiple times.

It can be hard to be classified as “the horse girl,” and trust me I’ve been there and I am still there, and it might be hard but you just kind of have to ignore it and do what you love!

And HSHG, keep saving your money. It is totally worth it when you finally get to go to that one clinic you’ve been DIEING to go to or get that piece of tack you’ve wanted for ages.

May the force be with you,

Well, HSHG, I think that’s some pretty solid advice. Being a horse freak is something you may never grow out of, so you might as well just learn to “own it”–and remember, you’ll always be cool in our book.

Good luck!

Have a question for the “expert”? Email it to [email protected].

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