It’s all in the metaphor.
If you’ve spent any time horse shopping at all, you’ll find a few phrases popping up that we as equestrians have adopted into our lexicon. Metaphor is one of language’s greatest gifts, after all — but when we start to unpack some of these phrases, we remember that a metaphor is, in fact, just a figure of speech. It’s always fascinating to consider how language can say one thing but mean another — and how readily we as equestrians don’t even think about the literal meaning.
Here are a few of my favorites:
“Can take a joke”
What it literally means: you can crack a joke or pull a prank on this horse, and he’ll handle it with aplomb
What it means to horse people: this horse is tolerant of rider error and can maybe even cover up rider error by merit of how well trained and good-minded he is
“He’s a professional”
What it literally means: this horse has gone full-time into whatever line of work we’re discussing and is paid for his time
What it means to horse people: this horse is well-broke, knows his “job” and offers a consistent ride every time despite distractions, nervous riders, etc.
“Walks the lines”
What it literally means: presumably that this horse would land a fence and then walk to the next one. Alternately, this horse really likes Johnny Cash.
What it means to horse people: this horse has a big-strided canter ideal for the hunters, so he can just float easily down the lines
What it literally means: this horse has been ridden into battle
What it means to horse people: a few different things: if describing an OTTB, “warhorse” usually refers to one with a long racing career. Depending on who you talk to, that might be anything over 30 starts or anything over 50 starts. A warhorse may also refer to a careered show animal who has been there and done that all over the country
What are your favorite literal/horse people phrases? Shout out in the comments — and go riding.