I’m going to make a lot of guesses in this post. I’m guessing that, if you were like me, you probably didn’t have many girl friends growing up. “Typical” girls didn’t understand your competitiveness, your drive to succeed, your connection to ‘a dumb animal’, your need to be strong and your willingness to get your hands dirty, literally, to achieve your goals. If you did have girl friends, they were likely other “horse girls”, or strong women who recognized your ‘ganas’ and respected them instead of fearing them.
It’s no surprise that we as horse women relate so well to other horse women, and less to the domestically correct ideals of old that society continues to offer us. Cook dinner every night? Maybe when I get home from the barn. Keep everything spick and span? Ha, have you even seen my car? Smell like roses all the time? If the name by which a rose also goes is Foster, sure.
Still, to say that all horse people will immediately befriend one another is to paint that picture using only rainbow colors and maybe those fuzzy animal stickers we coveted as children. Many of us are sportsmen as well as horsepeople, so there is always going to be an array of opinions and competitiveness that makes everyone being everyone else’s best-friend-forever just impossible.
So when we find another horsewoman (or to be fair, horseman) that then becomes our best friend, well, that’s something special.
It takes a special person to not only put up with, but enable hours of conversation on one subject (duh, horses), supports you in your many goals on your path to personal equestrian world domination, and then still probably won’t judge you for the mysterious stains or smells you bring to the party. That person that makes the effort to watch your rides at shows, and hollers and whoops at the end of your dressage test, even if their ridiculous jubilance draws looks from passersby. And if that person can’t be there, you know they are going to call you the second you get done, that they care enough to want a play-by-play of how a line rode, or your iffy canter transitions, even if that stuff will bore most people to tears. And you would do the exact same for them.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really discovered this rare breed of ‘horse friends’. Much of that I owe to my collegiate dressage team, which first introduced me to the concept that collegiate or not, being an equestrian is much better when it is a team sport. 10 years later I still keep in touch with those girls, and the memories of silliness and bonding are more important to me than any show of my college career.
When I left college, bought Foster, and moved to new farms, I thought those kind of relationships were unique to the college experience, and so a thing of the past. But once again I found kindred spirits, and started new adventures, and with those people I made new memories. We have cried, we’ve been scared, we’ve been brave, and we’ve (I’ve) certainly embarrassed ourselves a few times, and it’s been glorious. The only thing that makes these different than the days before is that now we are old enough to imbibe in an adult beverages to celebrate, or drown our sorrows
, or attend the local schooling show.
Being an equestrian is not easy. And I don’t mean just that riding horses isn’t easy. Living with and loving animals so breathtaking, and yet so fragile, means that we constantly are living lives of highs and lows. The ride will always be sweeter when you find someone to join in the journey.