by Karen McBurney (Bay with Chrome blog)

Horse people friends in derby hats? Photo by Amanda Chance

My horse people friends in derby hats! Photo by Amanda Chance

This is going to get a bit sappy. Please understand, I have great friends who are non-horse people, and I’m not saying they don’t have exceptional attributes that make them wonderful friends. However, I have noticed over the years that horse people, crazy as they are, are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. So I’m going to try to put into words why that is.

Horse people understand the value of time, and the need for the patience it takes for understanding the value of time, and that some things take time and nothing else will do

Time is precious; it is a commodity, or a construct. Fluid like hot syrup but regimented daily into maddening ticks, no one has as much as they need. Why, especially, do horse people get a little obsessed with it (almost as much as we are obsessed with the weather)? Because our horses need ours. So when we share it with each other, we understand that it’s limited, and that many of us are on a schedule that requires us to work all day, or go to school all day, see and talk to family, do laundry or other random chores that seem meaningless when compared to properly rolling polo wraps or standing bandages, eat, maybe even eat more than one meal on the run, drive far to work or school or the barn or the carpool place or the feed store, walk our dogs, brush our cats, and ride and care for our horses. True, this is a self-imposed crammed schedule. Maybe if horses weren’t in our lives, we wouldn’t be so caught up about trimming minutes off our commutes or secretly exercising at our desks on our lunch hours, but I think it’s also fair to say that if horses weren’t in our lives, we’d all be bored and sad. Horses are worth the time. And our time is of incalculable worth.

Horse people “get” empathy.

I can’t say every horse person that I’ve met is empathetic (some are woefully very much not so, unfortunately) but I truly believe that every horse person knows that empathy is an important quality to have in the pursuit of a life with horses in it, even if some are incapable of it themselves. Empathy is invaluable as a communication tool. Horses can’t tell us in words what’s going on with them. We have to put ourselves in their set of four iconically-shaped, somewhat expensive shoes. If you’re not at least trying to see life how a horse sees it, you’re not a horse person. And if you are capable of seeing life as a horse sees it, you are very, very lucky.

Horse people understand the value of money even if they value it differently than non-horse people – it’s a means to and end and is not terribly intrinsically valuable.

Even if you’ve done so on a tight budget, if you’ve owned a horse you know that they pretty much eat hundred dollar bills for breakfast (but not before we soak them into a mash with warm water). But what are we actually buying, and is it something we can really put a price tag on? My horse is a therapist, home gym, partner, puzzle, friend; my horse keeps me guessing, keeps me humble, and keeps me learning. As long as I have him, I will be cracking jokes about handing my checkbook over to the trainer, vet, show secretary, and farrier, but I will bust my ass at my job on a daily basis to keep paying for all of that because without him, my motivation evaporates. I don’t want a life without motivation, even if it means blistered fingers and fewer designer handbags.

Horse people are friends for life even if you don’t see them or hear from them all the time

How true this has been over the years! Reconnecting with the people I’ve ridden with over the years happens, happily, somewhat frequently. Often, over margaritas. And we never run out of things to talk about!

A horse person will never tell you not to go see your horse.

A horse person will never tell you not to go see your horse.

A horse person will never tell you not to go see your horse.

Seriously, don’t tell me to hang out with you instead of going out to ride. Just don’t.

Horse people are some of the most motivated, hard-working, driven, genuine people I have met.

Horses are a lot of work. A LOT. Even if you board at a full-care facility with professionals you trust (as I am lucky enough to do), you are still going to work hard because you are a horse person, and that’s just what we do. Lifting hay bales, cleaning tack, moving jumps, or grooming your horse’s coat to a high sheen is some of the work. Some of the work is putting in the eight hours a day at your job and saving up for a show season. Some of the work is reading as much as you can about your chosen discipline, or horse psychology, or veterinary medicine, or who’s wearing what at WEF. Horse people are very often non-stop. We don’t turn off. We are constantly on the move. We get jittery when the weather keeps us out of the saddle. We might curl up in sweats with our pets that get to live in our houses with us for a bad tv marathon, but we never stop thinking about our horses and what more we can do for them.

We’ve all read this before:

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who have not been seized as we have will perhaps never understand just how captivated we are by our equine beasts, but we can take pride and comfort in knowing that there are many of us who have been seized whole, and for life.

Have a good ride!

Karen McBurney