I don’t know about you, but I find horse people, myself included, to be very ‘group’ identified. I don’t think horse people would call themselves ‘group identified’, but I think we all are affiliated – in our heads – with a certain type of horse, gear, attire and discipline.
I mean, if you are in a horsey gathering and you bring up ‘saddles’, let’s say… Well, every single person in the group will talk about their favorite saddle and everyone else will make an assumption. Or, if you are at that party and bring up the subject of breeds, everyone will tell you their opinion of why their breed (or horse) is the best and everyone else will make an opinion about their opinion.
I ALWAYS LOOK ‘OUT OF PLACE’ AT A HORSEY GATHERING
I don’t look like a sterotypical horse person. I look like a ‘producer’ (which I am) at a horse gathering… Consequently, no one pays any attention to me. They assume that I must be there because I’m somebody’s friend or relative…perhaps I work there…
Or, everyone concludes that if I do ride, I must be an occasional leadline participant or perhaps a weekend pony petter.I’m sure they wonder, “Why is she here?”
I am placed into the group of those people who don’t know how to dress at a horsey gathering and therefore is probably a newbie or a snob.
SO WHY DON’T I WEAR THE APPROPRIATE HORSEY ATTIRE?
To be honest, I have failed at formulating the appropriate equestrian uniform for myself.
I just buy equipment and clothing that seems to work well and is comfortable for both me and my horses. Because of this, I hodgepodge several disciplines and styles together which then makes me and the horses look we just came out of a tumble dryer wearing whatever clothes/tack stuck to our backs.
BUT I HAVE TO LOOK GOOD FOR THIS!
But this past weekend, I had to pull myself together and ‘look the part’ because I was representing the group who had organized the equestrian function I was attending.
So, I decided to be very mindful and thoughtful about my attire. I very carefully packed my best horsey clothes. I wanted to be stereotyped as the quintessential, informed, and confident horse person.
Since the event was outside and the weather looked to be bad, I brought thick and luxurious riding pants, a very pretty top, my nice matching gloves, my best hat, and all the right accessories including jewelry and my ‘smoke and mirrors’ makeup. When I was finished packing, I felt solid. I was set to finally fit into the category of what I needed to represent on that day.
I put my tall muck boots into my car (to do all the outside work needed before the event), I grabbed my computer bag and my Barn coat (it was cold) and hopped into my car for the 4 hour drive to the event location.
It wasn’t until about 3 hours into the drive that I realized I had left my carefully packed suitcase back at the house.
THE CLOTHES ON MY BACK
So, I took inventory of the clothes I was wearing… Hmmmmm. I had my comfy faded jeans, a grey ribbed sweater under a brown nylon hoodie. I had my barn coat, my tall muck boots and my everyday purse.
I decided that if I got to my destination in time (this was the afternoon before the event), I could buy something to wear. Unfortunately, the weather was horrible, the drive took much longer than anticipated and there was much to do upon my arrival.
When I finally had a free moment, I dashed to the nearest store to go shopping. It was a SaveMart (a grocery store).
Luckily for me, this SaveMart had a small ‘other than groceries’ area… After laboring over Magic Lash or Revlon for far too long, I decided to skip the makeup altogether (probably a bad idea). I then found travel sizes of all the sundries I had forgotten. Fortunately, I picked up a lovely grocery store T-shirt, some sale gloves and a kids’ beenie. All set.
So, I show up at 6am to help organize and set-up the outdoor event. As I approach strangers to help them park their trailers and sign in, I realized that once again, I look like I don’t belong. I’m not sure if it was the barn coat (everyone else had a lovely equestrian jacket), my stained muck boots, my lack of make-up, or my kids’ striped beanie, but obviously something was amiss about me.
And, as usual, no one knew how to ‘group’ me. I was this odd, helpful little troll wearing her son’s beanie.
I saw a very stereotypical looking cowboy at the event. He was tanned, wore boots, a broken-in jacket and a cowboy hat. He indicated that he worked a cattle and horse ranch. He voiced the traditional cowboy, “Yes Ma’am” and had an ‘aw shucks’ attitude. His handlebar moustache finished the picture.
MY LESSON IN ‘STEREOTYPING’
To me, the out-of-place troll in a beanie and a barn coat, I assumed that the cowboy was a ranch hand.
As everyone was loading up to leave, there were several young, not trailer trained horses.
I watched various people using all the tricks they had learned at clinics or in books to load their young ones. (I recognized those tricks because I had read the same books and learned the same techniques at those same clinics.)
While most of the others were struggling, I turned my attention to the ranch hand.
I saw him stroke his first yearling on the face and look directly at him in a very loving way. Then, he stepped into the trailer and clucked at his young horse to follow. The yearling stepped right into the trailer. The ranch hand shut the divider and moved toward the second yearling.
(I’m going to add here that all 5 of the ranch hand’s horses were the best trained of the group… very calm with wonderful manners.)
The second yearling was not as easy to load as the first. He didn’t walk into the trailer after his friend.
But before anyone could make a fuss to try to help him with the “ways” we have all learned in books and clinics, he went and got his rope.
All of us stood rock still and gulped air, wondering what this cowboy would do with his rope… (stereotyping)
Once again, he touched the young horse on the face, spoke to him softly and then very gently took his rope loop and put it around the yearling’s hind quarters. Then, he stepped into the trailer and very softly called to the yearling as he pulled on both the leadrope and the butt rope. The baby put his front legs in the trailer. The cowboy quietly stepped out and told the yearling that he was “a good boy”.
Then, with the action of a stealth ninja ranch hand, he smoothly and quickly put himself behind the horse simultaneously reforming his rope in one movement. He then gently swung the rope quietly behind the boy – making sure not to make contact. As easy as pie, the yearling stepped onto the trailer while the cowboy quietly shut the back door.
It was a beautiful thing.
I knew I had ‘grouped’ him incorrectly.
This was no ranch hand; this was a Horseman.
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OOOOhhh boy… I knowwhatcha mean. Yes, Horse People do indeed like to deck themselves out in a fashion indicating their choice of breed or discipline or let’s face it, how much $$$ they’ve got. Lacking in self-confidence myself, I will admit to trying very hard to “fit in” wherever I go in the horse world, by coming up with my (tiny) budget’s approximation of the “correct” outfit. I honestly do not know how I am actually perceived… in general, I would hope that I maybe look like I have a clue, somewhat. :-) I always feel more confident in my clearly worn paddock boots, at any rate. Horsey places I’ve been: racetracks, Western shows, English shows (everything from schooling to the National), breed shows, trade shows, veterinary hospitals, polo, and the WEG. I have been most uncomfortable at polo, which I’ve actually gone to a lot lately – some of the spectators do tend to go out of their way to enforce the “we’re filthy” thing. (On the other hand, Billy Busch – as in AB – is the Big Cheese in St. Louis in polo and he looks like “the billionaire next door.” A nice enough guy.) The WEG was pretty interesting: lots of mega-buck types in their Dubarry boots, dripping in Hermes scarves and luxe equestrian jewelry, and lots of ordinary folks like me. But I had an absolute BLAST talking to every person who I stood with or sat near at that event. Didn’t let anyone’s appearance stop me and it was extremely rewarding!
So yeah, that totally stunk that you forgot your suitcase. I would have been freaking out. However, I’m sure the event organizers so grateful for your help that I’m sure THEY wouldn’t have cared if you’d showed up in your Homer Simpson pajama pants. AND you look just fine without makeup, so there! :-)
My attire and tack don’t match either ( I ride western, but wear breeches and tall boots or paddock boots and half chaps), but my horse could care less. And I could care less! I just want to enjoy myself, and ride. Good for you!!!
Okaaaay whoever that cowboy was I want to marry him and I’m not even the marrying kind having gotten rid of two before who didn’t accept my horse-peep-ness. BTW Husband #2 was of the opinion that all horsepeople need a good twelve step program. That would be the one thing I agreed with him about. We do. We are all equine addicts with the same unfortunate personality quirks as all other addictions. It’s called the addictive personality. Imagine that equine addiction coupled with shopping addiction and you will understand why the tack shop biz continues to be good in a terrible economy.
Out of place? Try attending a polo match! Women really DO dress like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”, right down to the matching hat and gloves! At least that was the preferred attire at the Myopia Hunt Club and Polo Fields (Hamilton, MA) about 10 years ago. The Queen would have been proud of everyone … but me!
Myopia was founded in 1775, and built the first polo field in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. General George S. Patton was a member. It was rumored he was often so drunk he should have been tied to the saddle, but I bet he was always impeccably dressed! Drunk or not, I’ll always bless him for saving the Lipizzans.
Love this! And it’s nice to know that I am not the only one to forget things. I am also one of those to not fit into a horse class!
We carry a lasso in the trailer for Sonny. This “butt-rope” is the only way he will load without problems. Once the rope is placed, it only takes a small tug on it and in he goes. Makes loading him so much easier. He is a 16.2 hand pocket pony. lol
Love this post, because I, like you, do not fit the stereotype of a horse person! So it is OK! Really!
This was wonderful, although I’m sorry you didn’t get to wear your pretty new clothes, not because they’d help you fit in, but just because they were new. Humans—we tend to judge by the outside instead of the heart.