Midlife Crisis: The adventures of a thirtysomething first-time horse owner

This week, Amanda Smith shares the unusual story of how she met her seven closest friends–on an online equestrian bulletin board.

Top photo by Lennon-Freire Photography

From Amanda:

My older sister is expecting her second baby…. any day now, actually. Last month we threw a small shower for her; I was in charge of ordering & sending invitations and collecting RSVPs. Throughout this process, and during the shower, I couldn’t help but wonder who on Earth I would invite to a baby shower… or any kind of get together for that matter.

I really like a lot of my co-workers, but I don’t know if I’m close enough to any of them to invite them to a social gathering. Maybe one or two, tops. Same with the people at my barn… really like the ladies that board there, but I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about them save their horses’ names. So I’d have… maybe 10 people to invite to a baby shower, including my family (queue Smashmouth song… “with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an L on her forehead…”).

Wow. Am I that friendless? Really? No close friends to share momentous life celebrations with?! I wallowed in self-pitty for about 10 seconds, wondering what anti-social disorder from the DSMIVTR I have. And then it dawned on me… I have seven amazingly supportive friends who have been with me for the better part of the last seven years of my life. How could I forget?

Well… probably because (and girls, don’t get mad at me!) I’ve never met them. As in, I’ve never stood-face-to-face-with-them met them. OK, well I was lucky enough to meet Laine and Ann Marie on separate occasions, but that leaves four I’ve never so much as had a phone conversation with. But it doesn’t seem that odd to me; it is the 21st century, after all.

The “ME Team” formed out of the shared hilarity each of the eight of us brought to an online equine bulletin board. At the time I was just getting back into horses, and was seeking out knowledge through every avenue I could find. When they posted advice or responded to questions other members posed, not only did their answers make sense, they also bore the mark of One Who Does Not Take Themselves So Seriously. These were the kinds of people I could hang with. And through rampant ridiculousness (Stewology, chubacabbras, our love/hate relationship with The Hoff, majikal unicorns, the Swedish Chef… ) and some actual sound advice about horses, our friendships formed.

These extraordinary ladies are more than just on-line friends. Not to be dismissed as a poor substitutes for socially acceptable “real” friends, these women are the real deal. Without them, I never would have taken the leap into leasing a horse, or ultimately buying one. They have been supportive of me every step of my horse-owning journey, and have been a wealth of knowledge (I can’t even begin to guess how many years of collective horse experience these gals have). They have taught me that it’s OK to question others about their training methods and that I shouldn’t ignore my gut feeling. And a dash of enabling. *wink*

We aren’t crazy, middle-aged, stuck-in-the-house “cat lady” types who confine our discussions to horses. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs together… three divorces, two engagements, one wedding (another this fall!), three (about to be four!) babies, getting diagnosed with cancer, and beating cancer into submission to name but a few. Through the loss of family members and our dearest equine (and feline and canine) friends… I feel like we’ve all been there for one another across the miles and over the years. I know that no matter what time of day it is (I get text messages whenever there’s a tornado warning in my area to make sure I’m OK. That is friendship), or what the issue is (“so I’m thinking about switching feeds/farriers/supplements…”), the ME Team is there. Someone looking out for me, supporting me or cheering me on. And that’s what real friends do.

Laine, Mo, Joelle, Bron, Ann Marie, Kelly, Tiffy… I am so very lucky to call you my friends.

In real life.

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