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December 30, 2013

Barn Cars

Hitching a ride with a horse-owning buddy? In the interest of full disclosure, here are a few things you may wish to consider.

Dear non-horse-owning friends:

I am perfectly willing to do my part when it comes to taking turns carpooling, driving to the movies or being the designated driver on our girls’ night out. But before you ask me to provide transportation for any purpose, please take note of the following:

I drive a Barn Car. That is not some new breed of hybrid, environmentally friendly state-of-the-art vehicle. It is literally a car that I drive to the barn. Every day. Barn Cars are not luxury cars. They do not come equipped with satellite radio, GPS tracking, heated seats with lumbar support or even cup holders (unless you count duct taping your coffee mug to the glove box). Barn Cars do not have back seats in the classic sense, i.e. for carrying passengers. The back seat of a Barn Car is storage for items that will not fit into our tack trunk at the barn.

Barn Cars are not clean. The exterior of a Barn Car is covered with dirt, horse slobber, kittycat paw prints, bug splatter and bird doody that may obscure the original paint to the extent that the color of the car is unidentifiable. The interior is an amalgam of mud, horse hair, rice hulls and hay remnants, all of which regard you as a giant living lint brush and are likely to attach themselves to you, your possessions or your progeny without your prior knowledge or consent.  

Barn Cars also have flies. They hibernate under the seats in the winter, but may still crawl into your purse.

Riding in a Barn Car may cause you to become imbued with certain odors, including but not limited to those from leather cleaner, fly spray, horse sweat, pungent ointments and manure; repeated showering and shampooing and scrubbing and beating clothing with sticks may be required to eradicate said aromas. Until then you may find that your spouse, siblings, children, dog or cat will refuse to be in the same room with you. Look on the bright side; there’s that “me time” you’ve been wanting.

It is a forgone conclusion that people who accept a ride in a Barn Car will, at some point, end up going to the barn. Reasons for spontaneous trips to the barn include veterinary emergency, dropping off feed or supplies, changes in weather requiring immediate blanketing/unblanketing, and “I just want to check on the horses real quick.”  

If you have a severe allergy to horses, please keep an epi-pen in your purse. I can drop you off at the emergency room later. Exception: in the case of veterinary emergency, you’ll have to tough it out. However, I will ask the vet to check on you. Be sure to give him your contact information so he can bill you.

I cannot be held responsible for personal embarrassment, the appearance of incriminating photos on Facebook, or for your being ostricized from your regular social circles as a result of being seen in or around a Barn Car. It does not bother me at all to drop you off at the bridal shower in a vehicle that looks like it mowed down a zombie herd on the 101-North. If it bothers you, you may prefer to call a taxi.

Finally, be aware that requesting a ride in a Barn Car requires advance planning. I wish it was as simple as opening the door and letting you in. It’s not. Letting you in is the final step in a long, arduous process which goes as follows:

1. Create room in the back seat. This requires removing objects such as tack, grooming tools, veterinary supplies and extra clothing and stuffing them into the car trunk or truck bed, which is probably already filled with out-of season-blankets and extra bags of feed.

2. Transfer of objects from front passenger area to the small space that has been cleared in the back seat. This may result in items being stacked so high that visibility from the rear window is wholly or partially blocked. It may also result in airborne projectiles should I need to apply the brakes suddenly. I’ve probably got a hard hat in the car; I recommend you wear it.

3. Brush hay, grain, rice hulls, dirt and horsehair off the passenger seat, and make room for your feet on the floor. You might have to sit with your knees hiked up under your chin or shove your legs into the small space between the bags of horse cookies and the center console. As for the smell—I can’t do anything about that. If it offends you I hope you don’t mind riding with your head out the window like a big ‘ol hound dog.

Note: if you prefer to sit in the back seat, where it is less likely you will be seen/identified, steps 2 and 3 can be eliminated. If the Barn Car is a pickup truck or dually, you have the added option of riding in the bed.

You may decide the best answer is to drive your own vehicle and let us hitch a ride with you. But we’re just as likely to show up in our barn clothes bringing with us the same odors, dirt, and horse hair you’d find in our car. You can take us out of the Barn Car…but you can’t take the Barn Car out of us.

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 the Dec. 2 Amateur Issue print edition of The Chronicle of the Horse

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