The conversations you have with barn folk outside the barn are my favorite to have overheard. You’re talking about something entirely normal, to you, while the person in line behind you is secretly wondering why you’re checking his poop for worms. They can’t keep the confusion or shock off their face, which leads you to inevitably notice they were listening into your conversation. So, the whole thing is pretty funny and I really enjoy those conversations.

It’s Tuesday night, and our IHSA team always did Taco Tuesdays at one Mexican restaurant in our college town or the other. I’d go from my team lesson to our place of choice always in my breeches and occasionally tall boots, you know. Post-barn chic. We’re tucked into an end of the restaurant, talking closely because it’s a small place and taco Tuesday brought in a lot of fans.

“Oh yeah, I got dumped yesterday,” someone said, casually. The ensuing conversation included a discussion of how, why, and did you punish him? A passerby clearly overheard some of it, making a face that read: what, the, heck. Good times for everyone.

But that got me thinking to the first time I actually fell off. I couldn’t remember it at first, maybe because who wants to remember the first time they gracelessly flopped off a four legged creature that was probably moving forward, upwards, or backwards? We know it’s a right of passage, but it never really stops bruising the ego.

My first fall was idyllic, as far as falling off of a horse goes. Almost a storybook fall, where little girl goes to riding camp in the summer. She rides at home too, but the freedom at camp was great! More than at home, too. And the adorable, small pony she’d been assigned to was hiding a dark secret most ponies hide for only a little while: they’re a little evil. But only a little! Nothing that can’t be fixed with regular sugar cubes and the like… So, girl rides pony at camp, but pony is a little too much for her. Pony leaps, girl does solo tango throughout the air, and girl lands on ground. All at camp.

Pretty good first fall story, if you ask me. They say a lot of your early experiences shape your later life – whether we’re talking about general life experience, or even our horse lives. While I’m not eternally afraid of hacking a small pony out in a big field without someone walking with me (ha, ha) I wonder if maybe I’d progressed slower, if I’d trust the horse more. Maybe camp freedom wasn’t as glorious as I thought it was, but it did make for a really good “I got dumped yesterday” story.

These rites of passage or things we feel like are normal in the horse world don’t always translate beyond the pearly gates of our barns. And what gets lost in translation makes for a great out-take.