Have you ever noticed how few TV shows and movies have horse people in them? You’ll find characters of every other ilk, but rarely is there an everyday horse person in a non-horsey story.
What’s the problem? Are we unbelievable? Are we boring? Are we considered the rejects of polite civilization? (That last question is rhetorical, please don’t answer it.)
Why don’t we see more of our demographic represented? I mean, we’re literally everywhere. You can’t walk through a supermarket without spotting somebody in paddock boots and a slobbered-on jacket seeing how many bottles of wine and bags of carrots they can slip through the “10 Items Only” lane. You can’t go to a formal party without seeing some poor gal wearing Uggs with a cocktail dress because her disfigured feet haven’t fit in regular shoes the 1980s.
Equestrians are well represented in society. Why aren’t we well represented on the screen?
I was watching TV and scoffing at how poorly the characters were handling their dilemma when the answer hit me upside the head like quick-release crosstie.
If a writer were to accurately represent a horse person in the script, it could invalidate the stratagems that drive the story.
To put it another way, we would completely muck up the plot.
Let me give you a few examples.
Aw, is the big fishie keeping you out of the water? Step aside; we got this. We’ve been avoiding the jaws of the pissy stallion for years, and he’s way faster. If we have to, we can crocodile-wrestle the shark into submission. (And by the way, crocodile hunters, at least crocs are already where you can reach them. Try wrestling Ivermectin down the throat of an 18-hand warmblood sometime and see how far you get). We’ve also spent a lifetime lassoing and loading recalcitrant quadrupeds into the two-horse. We’ll have a halter and stud chain on that fish and have it loaded into our underwater trailer faster than you can say “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
And by the way, we’ve learned a thing or two from trying to stuff a Hammoverian (no, that’s not a typo) into a quarter-horse trailer: We would have brought a big enough boat the first time.
“The Walking Dead”
OK, let’s put this into perspective: They’re walking, and they’re dead.
Try fighting your way through The Stampeding Living. Every day, we fight our way past hangry, hairy, hooved herbivores hell-bent on relieving us of the feed bucket before we can dump it into the feed bin. Do you really think zombies are going to scare us? They’ll be evacuating our personal space with nothing more than a cluck and a stern look by the time we’re finished schooling them. Give us a week, and we’ll have them trotting obedient circles around us in the round pen.
We’ll have them pulling plows, hauling carts and generally doing their part to rebuild society. The horror quotient would drop faster than an adult amateur on a hot day. And you’d have to find some other show to try to scare your little sister.
I’ve never been able to get past the question of why the Howells brought enough outfits for 98 episodes on a three-hour tour. But, if they get to bring a steamer trunk aboard the Minnow, I’ll assume we get to bring one too.
And boy, do we know how to pack a trunk.
That’s where the whole premise of the show falls apart.
Unlike the Howells, we’d be traveling with sensible stuff. The kind of stuff that could be used to, say, fix a big-ass hole in a boat. Like duct tape, Bondo, glue, nails, and hand tools. We’d have the Minnow afloat faster than the Professor could make a clock out of a coconut.
We’d have everybody back to the mainland before Mrs. Howell had a chance to put on a second outfit.
Boom. The End. One episode.
That’s probably as long as the series should have lasted in the first place.
It wouldn’t take much work to write a horse person into this show because, realistically, we’d never have to be seen onscreen. The running joke would be that anytime one of the gang asked, “Where’s Jody?” someone would respond “She’s at the barn.”
Now and then, a sharp-eyed viewer might glimpse the elusive horse girl in the background, hobbling in to Central Perk in riding clothes to get a thermos of coffee and some Twizzlers. Each time, a random customer (usually an A-list celebrity in a cameo appearance) would look up from their croissant and newspaper and exclaim, “What’s that smell?” and Gunther (the manager) would always have some snappy comeback, such as “A yak died in in the bathroom.”
It would become such a popular gag that fans would host viewing parties with the hope they’d spot our character in a coffee shop scene and could shout “What’s that smell?!” in unison, the same way the patrons of Cheers shouted “NORM!” whenever Mr. Peterson enters the bar.
Without speaking a single word of dialog, we’d become the most indelible, iconic and memorable non-character in TV sitcom-dom.
How’s that for a legacy?
Haha. You think you’re the devil? Come out to the barn; we’ll show you the devil. Our pony mare has a way scarier devil face than you do. Once you see her eyes roll back and her head turn all the way around, you’ll scurry straight back to the underworld. You’ll be safer there. At least until she arrives.
“The Wizard Of Oz”
If, instead of a house, a horse and rider were picked up by a twister and dropped into Oz, we’d be a bit more mercenary than Dorothy.
First, we’d feel no obligation to apologize for squashing the Wicked Witch of the East. She should have known better than to ride her bicycle up behind our horse. As if the wind wasn’t spooking him enough already.
As for the ruby slippers…what are we gonna do with those? Unless clicking them together three times turns them into a pair of custom Dehners and magically transports us to the derby finals, they’re useless. We’d give them to the Wicked Witch of the West as a peace offering because nothing says “I’m sorry I squished your sister” like a new pair of shoes. She’d skip off into the sunset and never bother us again, and we wouldn’t have to worry about our horse spooking at the flying monkeys.
As for the scarecrow? What better travel companion for a girl and her hungry horse than a walking hay net.
The there’s the tin man, who’s pretty much a water bucket with arms and legs.
Wow, a water bucket that carries itself? Who knew Oz was so horse friendly?
And when we finally meet the Wizard, he needn’t give us anything from his little black bag. We’ll just take that Horse of Another Color home with us. He is going to look way cool in the hunter derbies.
“Cheers” is a little different, as it may be the one show into which a horse person could blend seamlessly. Maybe that’s because I always considered “Cheers” a metaphor for the barn. It’s a place where you can take a break from your worries. It’s a place where people from diverse backgrounds bond in unspoken camaraderie. A place where our troubles are all the same.
The place you go where everybody knows your name.
Or at least your horse’s name.
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.