They come in all shapes and sizes. Some may have ridden in elementary school then ran off to less expensive team sports like soccer or synchronized swimming. Others simply grew up pressing their face against the window pane on long car rides, whispering, “Ohhhh…horses.” Most associated the horse with a pop-up farm animal book where the cow says “moo”, the dog “woof”, and the horse says “neigh.” Regardless of their history, we need those non-horsey friends.

I was a freshman in college when I met Caroline. We bonded over our love of Frank Sinatra (if you don’t know him, listen to his songs and prepare to swoon), chocolate milk, and men in uniform. I came into the cafeteria one day dressed in breeches, boot socks, and Sperrys. She glanced up from her sandwich and chips and her eyebrows raised as she recognized me, but not the outfit.

“You’re a rider?!” She said, the shock evident in her voice.

“Yeah, I have a lesson after lunch,” I replied as I slid into the chair across from her.

“How long have you been riding?”

I was a bit nervous at her sudden amazement and interest. “Since I was three,” I replied, my voice wavering.

“What!” She stopped chewing as child-like wonder washed over her face. “You don’t act like a rider,” she said, tilting her head to the side in curiosity. Her observation piqued my interest.

“How so?” I asked while taking a bite of carrot.

“Well,” her gaze dropped to the table as though she were about to say she accidentally flushed the class fish down the drain.

“The girls that I’ve met who ride tend to be a bit snobby. All they talk about is their horse and,” she looked up at me earnestly, “I like horses, but I don’t understand the lingo. Horse girls never really have any interest in other topics, and you have never really talked about horses.”

I mulled the thought over in my head. She had a point. We get tangled up in our own world to the point where we don’t know who is running for president, but we do know what bridle Susan switched Tex to.

Our non-horse friends keep us grounded, just like a good fall from your horse reminds you that you are not invincible. They ask questions that seem silly and ridiculous from our point of view, but are honest questions.

“Can they see through those (fly masks)?”

Nope, we blindfold them for sensory development.

“Can you ride fast?”

Because if you ride fast, you must be a pro.

“You don’t say giddy-up to get them going?”

Contrary to popular belief, Western movies are not forms of good riding. Most of us don’t mount our horse by leaping onto them from behind.

These questions remind us that horses are still a grand mystery to many people. Know how to talk to “normal” people. Enter into a friend’s world and learn about their passion. Yes, you will ask dumb questions, but that’s the beauty of riding; after falling, we get back on.

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