As the Hotwalker Turns: From the outside looking in

HN columnist Katy Groesbeck presents a handy translation guide for non-horsey friends, family members and significant others.

From Katy:

A lot of people ride. A lot of people who ride have friends and family who don’t. For instance, my boyfriend isn’t a “horse person,” per se, but to my delight he does at least show great interest and enthusiasm for learning, and I think it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be certifiably insane a certified horse person too.  Coincidentally, his brother (also not a “horse person”) is engaged to a barrel racer.  Good taste must run in the family.

But it does raise a good point: how do you integrate your non-horsey friends and family into your horse-oriented life without them feeling left in the dark as to what you’re doing? (I think delving into WHY we do it is just not smart.) I remember the frustration I felt when I first started dating afore-mentioned boyfriend, who is an avid hockey player and fan: trying to figure out the rules and remembering players on his favorite teams, let alone trying to keep track of a little black puck in what resembles a game of televised pin ball, was a daunting task and I felt like he was talking a different language most of the time. Out of courtesy to each other, we have been teaching one another our respective lingos: I can now casually drop names like “Ovechkin” and “Abdelkader” into conversation (though admittedly I had to look up how to spell them), I know what “icing” means (kinda), and I can point out the blue line. In exchange, he can ask how Phillip Dutton and Buck Davidson are doing on the leaderboard, he knows Aberjack, and I think he even knows where centerline is.  Hawley Bennett is his favorite rider (other than me, clearly): Facebook stalking reveals she’s a hockey fan. I’m still working on convincing him that hocks are NOT “back knees” and also not “hawks,” and he admits that dressage is still frustrating because he doesn’t really understand what’s going on. It’s OK babe, no one else does either.

So how do you get your otherwise clueless (but we forgive them because we love them) friends to fit in around the barn and at shows? First, hand them a dirty rag to carry. Or a dressage whip. Or at the very least they should have a dog (or ten) in tow. They will look absolutely at ease in their environment. THEN, teach them some of these handy phrases and words so they can join in on the fun and blend right in!

  1. “Heads up!” ── Get out of the way as fast as you can; run like hell.
  2. “He was a bit tense in the trot work” ── I’m lucky to be alive and I need a new spleen.
  3. “I missed at the big oxer in the last line” ── I’m lucky to be alive and I need a new spleen.
  4. “I over spun after my last run-down” ── I got dizzy.
  5. “The herd wasn’t settled” ── I scared the $h!t outta those poor cows.
  6.  “Western” (adj.) ── cowboys, Wrangler jeans, and lots of Skoal.
  7. “English” (adj.) ── tall black boots, snooty riding clothes, and overpriced horses. (Please note: the opposite of ‘western’ is not ‘eastern.’ This has been a source of confusion on more than one occasion.)
  8. “Breeches” (n.) ── provocatively tight riding pants.
  9. “Bridle” (n.) ── strictly English phraseology. For Western, use “headstall;” cowboys are great to look at and are handy with a horse, but try not to confuse them. (Similarly, please advise your friends of the difference between “girth” and “cinch.”)
  10. “Dressage” (n.) ── like figure skating in a sand box. Without skates. And no sequins. On a horse. Usually without the triple lutzs and double Salchows. It does happen, on occasion. (We keep watching with the secret hope that it does).
  11. “Endurance Rider” (n.) ── a gypsy with fast horses. Main consumer of Anti Monkey Butt Powder.
  12. “Reining” (n.) ── like dressage, but in a western saddle.  At a gallop. Sequins allowed.
  13. “Eventing” (n.) ── a three day party. BYOB.
  14. “Half-halt” (n./v.) ── It’s anyone’s guess. Just tell people they need one and you’ll be fine.

And, lastly but probably most importantly, make sure all your friends know “Inside leg to outside rein.”

Happy Trails!


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