Every Horse Junkie experiences it – the moment you realize that you are, in fact, that horse girl (or guy). And if you haven’t, well, you will, probably sooner than later).
Once riding really started to invade all aspects of my life, I was in middle and high school. I think I knew then that I was that horse girl. If there was an English assignment or prompt I could write about horses or riding, you bet I was. Persuasive presentations on the BLM and mustangs, informative speeches on how to groom a horse, history projects on horses in war, every art project was about horses. If I could make it about horses, you bet I did.
But then I went to college. One of my majors was specifically Equine Pre-Veterinary studies. I was surrounded by an entire class of horse people, at a school renowned for its equine program. Otterbein draws in equestrians and scholars from not just all over the country, but literally, all over the world (last year we had students from Germany and Brazil, as well as from across the U.S). Sure, I had interdisciplinary classes, but for the most part, I was submersed in equine culture. Horsemastership, equine systems, equine health monitoring, equine contemporary and emerging issues, a practicum for the American National Riding Commission, another for equine event management, conformation classes, farrier science…and, of course, riding. Even those friends of mine who aren’t in an equine major, but still on the team, are largely devoted to the equine world. Between working, riding, living in the barn (literally in the apartment attached to the barn for two and a half years), and boarding my own horse at the school, my entire life has been horses non-stop for the past four years, and I was surrounded with people whose lives were also horses non-stop (or nearly that).
Now that I am graduated, that hasn’t changed much. My horse is still boarded at the school for the remainder of the summer; I am riding every day (and finally have time to sit on some of the school horses in addition to my own). I still work at the barn, although I no longer live there. I am a camp counselor for the equine summer camps Otterbein holds for the third year in a row, so I will be spending everyday, all day, teaching kids to ride and about everything horse-related on the ground.
At the end of the summer, I’ll be relocating to Indiana for the next chapter in my journey to attend Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. I am immensely excited and proud of this next step, and equally terrified. My veterinary class of 2020 has a Facebook page, and we have been encouraged to introduce ourselves to our fellow classmates, and give five ‘fun facts’ about ourselves.
Reading everyone’s introductions and writing my own has brought me back to the reality that I am that horse girl. Everyone is posting about how they like to go to the gym, or cook, or watch movies; how much they love their dog they are bringing with them or their favorite TV series.
So, as I sat down to write my five ‘fun facts’ I started wracking my brain.
What are some fun facts…well, I have a horse.
1. I have a horse. That’s fun. *Insert quick plug to try to find a boarding barn for The Mare in Indiana*
Okay, moving on….2…what did I do in undergrad? Well, lived at the barn, taught at the barn, rode on the team, president of the team…Oh! I can talk about the team and my nickname (Mary Poppins) I got from my teammates. Okay, I guess another fun fact relating to horses.
3. What specialty do I want to pursue? Ah, well, horses. Clearly.
4. What else do I do? I play piano…that’s good. That’s not about horses. And I draw and paint…horses.
5. I blog! That’s fun and different, right? I blog. For an equine website…
Ah, well, I tried.
After spending four years secluded in a equine-saturated culture, I have had the rude awakening that I will be attending a school where 1) Not everyone loves horses, or wants to do anything with horses, or maybe has even touched a horse; and 2) I am about to be that horse girl in this class.
I guess on the brighter side of things, after all this time, I am not burnt out from the equine industry. Being an equine veterinarian is still all I want, and have ever wanted, to be. I still walk into the barn each day, excited to see my horse. I still am thrilled each time I get to sit on a new horse, or have a new experience on, or off, of a horse.
I hope my classmates are prepared to deal with my enthusiastic rants about how wonderful my horse is, the overabundance of social media posts and pictures of my horse, and I will apologize now to my future roommates for the muddy paddock boots, miscellaneous tack, and bags of carrots and apples reserved for The Mare that will most likely be floating around.
I am that horse girl; and maybe high school me would’ve been a little more bashful about my horse obsession…but now, I’m proud of my experiences and the horsewoman that they have made me.
The moment you realize you are that horse girl, embrace it. We’re this way because it affects us unlike any other hobby or sport. We are passionate, enthusiastic, dedicated and devoted athletes. So yes, I am that horse girl.