While many horse-world skills transfer nicely to “real jobs,” there are a few that don’t. Here are some examples of occupations to avoid if equines are your first love.
Grays (or Chestnuts, or Bays) Anatomy
You do not want a horse person performing medical or dental procedures on you. We are used to bossing around 1,200 pounds of uncooperative Equus Caballus; our bedside manner doesn’t change just because you happen to be Homo Sapiens.
If you balk when asked to swallow your medicine, we’ll back you in to a corner and pinch your nostrils shut. Nervous about getting your flu shot? We have a lip chain that’ll calm you right down. And if you don’t sit quietly during your dental work, we’ll truss you up in a contraption that looks like something out of “50 Shades Of Grey” faster than you can say, “On second thought, a root canal sounds like fun.”
And you’d better hope we don’t have to take your temperature.
Hahahahahahaha heeheeheehee hahahahahahahahah. OK, I’m finished.
No, wait… hahahahahahah haha hahahaha hahahahahahaha whoohahah wheeheheheheheee.
Actually, I take that back. If you want us to model the wonder of reconstructive surgery or pose for X-rays proving how many pins it’s possible to put in one thumb, there’s no one better suited.
And why limit it to our hands? Our hips, knees and feet are monuments to the marvels of modern medicine. We’re a human Jenga tower, waiting for someone to pull the wrong pin and watch us topple. We’re more than a little disappointed that our bionic body parts haven’t given us extra strength, speed or endurance. Unless you define “endurance” as having to go to the airport five hours early to give the TSA time to map your metal-tarsals. And please stop trying to stick magnets to us; it’s not funny. The pins and joints and ball sockets are plastic and titanium, not steel.
If you’ve seen a typical barn car, you know that we set the bar pretty low here. “Clean” is a relative term that we define as “not as bad as when we started.” Blow the hay and dirt clods out of the car with the leaf blower, power-wash the bugs off the windshield, and we’re good.
Truthfully, we don’t want our cars too clean. The dirt is covering the duct tape and Bondo that’s been holding the fender together since the Mailbox Incident. And that sticky, clay-like adobe soil that’s gumming up the tires? You call it mud; we call it Nature’s Fix-a-Flat.
Also, nobody’s going to steal a barn car. If the appearance itself isn’t deterrent enough, the average riffraff won’t get far. He isn’t going to know he’ll need a pair of pliers to turn the headlights on, or realize that after your mare stepped on your right foot you had to reverse the positions of the gas and brake pedals to be able to drive. Not to mention the fact that stray flakes of hay will fly out of the truck bed, leaving a forensic trail that’ll lead law enforcement straight to his sorry self. Our cars are self-rescuing, if nothing else.
Dancing With The Scars
Excuse me, but have you seen our feet?? Our bunioned, callused, funky phalanges have not fit into anything more stylish than a paddock boot since the 1980s. We do have a collection of medical boots prescribed for various and sundry injuries that we can squeeze into; they have very little wear, but they do make it difficult to Paso Doble.
Even if we could shove our Franken-feet into a pair of Capezios, we wouldn’t make a good dance partner. This has nothing to do with a sense of timing or a lack of rhythm. Come on, riding is all about rhythm, balance and independent use of body parts. It’s just that we’re conditioned to lead, not follow, and our methods may be a bit unorthodox.
As all horse people know, the key to good movement is proper application of the aids. We’ll be compelled to give you a friendly tap of the crop or nudge you with our spurs until you can perform the steps cleanly, promptly and with appropriate engagement. And while we appreciate your mastery of Foxtrot, Two-Step and Argentine Tango, we won’t be happy until we’ve got you doing canter pirouettes and tempi changes across the centerline…er, dance floor. We also expect you to be thoroughly familiar with the boundaries of your dance space. Don’t make us get out our extra set of dressage arena letters.
Tappa Kegga Brew
Horse people are a fraternity of spirit-loving folk. A cold brewski is a refreshing reward at the end of a tough day. Wine helps us celebrate winning, consoles us after losing, and provides liquid courage in between. We cannot be without a bountiful supply.
If you have anything to do with the adult beverage industry, you’d better keep that fact to yourself. Once your barn buddies find out that you’re tapped in to a steady stream of Sauvignon, you’ll be coerced into diverting stock from Chateau de Spritzer straight into their tack trunks. It doesn’t matter what brand you broker; it only matters that you’re a human decanter. We’ll raise our red Solo cups to a nobody-Cardboardeaux as happily as an award-winning old vine Zin.
Like moonshiners of yore, you’ll be making midnight runs of Rosé Lightning while trying to outrun Officer Obie in your suped-up Dodge Charger. This will lead to a downward spiral of illicit activity: falsifying numbers, inventing faux profits and unexplained shortages of product.
Not to mention an exponential explosion of Facebook friend requests.
Bangs Are Not Just For Tails
Tired of getting bad haircuts? That’s because your stylist is doing it wrong. Everybody knows the only way to get a truly natural result is to rip hair out by the roots to the desired length. It thins, shortens and shapes in one fell swoop. Nothing could be easier (except electric clippers—if you see us with those, get out while you can).
We can take your mind off any discomfort by giving you a magazine to read and twisting your ear. It’s even more effective if you’re sporting a pair of hoop earrings. It makes cross-tying you easier.
And if your hair just won’t part on the correct side, we can rubber band it into submission. The good news is we can make your braids so tight it’ll lift parts of your body you didn’t even realize were sagging.
Witness For the Prosecution
Better Call Somebody Else
Heaven forbid we’re ever a material witness in a murder case. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we wouldn’t make a great witness; horse people are exceptionally perceptive and have great recall of details. Especially trainers. They can give you a detailed play-by-play of your entire performance in the ring, from the five exact places you took your leg off prematurely to the moment you steadied the left rein a little too much on the third stride of the outside line and prompted an unwanted lead change in front of the judge.
The fact that we’re not cut out to testify has nothing to do with our powers of observation. It’s that it is impossible to put an equestrian in the witness protection program.
You might be able to change our hair, dress us up in street clothes, and give us a new identity, but we’ll blow our cover the second we involuntarily cluck at the slow people in front of us on the highway.
Even if we could willfully prevent such horsey behaviors, there are subconscious things we can never hide.
Case in point: I went into the city to a new dentist. As I was about to sit down, he moved and almost stepped on my foot. I avoided his size 12 oxfords with catlike agility.
He stopped and looked at me. “You have horses, don’t you?”
I was at a loss for words. I hadn’t so much as said, “Hello, I’d like extra novocaine” to this man. I was wearing street clothes, and I’d had a shower. What had given me away?
He smiled at my expression and explained, “I have horses. And only people who work around horses have reflexes that fast.”
So, my horsey friends, there is no hiding what we are and will always be. And honestly, if we couldn’t take our horses undercover with us, we wouldn’t want to go. So unless you can teach our steed to walk upright and issue him a new identity as well?
We saw nothing.
After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now she’s an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle’s first writing competition. Her work also appears in print editions of The Chronicle of the Horse. Read all of Jody’s humor columns for coth.com here.