Last Christmas, someone gave me a “You might be a real redneck if…” daily calendar. Today’s entry, for example, is “You might be a real redneck if your truck
has 12 bumper stickers but no inspection sticker.”
Naturally, I began to wonder why we couldn’t have a “You might be a real horseman if. . .” calendar too? I don’t have 365 witty sayings to fill one up, but these sample entries would fill up a month and a half. I’ll leave it up to the rest of you to think of 320 more of them to fill out an entire horseman’s year.
“You might be a real horseman if…”
1. You see a trotting horse. You can tell he’s lame, and on which leg.
2. You clean your horse’s water bucket each day, so it doesn’t get slimy with dirty water.
3. You can clearly explain what’s meant by the phrase “ride from your inside leg to your outside hand.”
4. You can take a completely disassembled full bridle and put it back together while blindfolded.
5. You can sit the trot and canter easily without bouncing and lurching around, with or without stirrups, and with or without a saddle.
6. You can see your distance to a fence almost all the time, from at least three or four strides away.
7. Jack Le Goff has publicly insulted your riding.
8. George Morris has publicly insulted your riding and your attire.
9. You can back up your truck and trailer into a really tight parking spot.
10. You can give a learned dissertation on the descendants of Nearco.
11. You can accurately walk distances between jumps and know what those distances mean in terms of how many strides you need to get.
12. The Hunchback of Notre Dame doesn’t spring to mind when people watch you riding your dressage test.
13. You can halter-break a foal.
14. You move to a new barn that has 12 horses. In a few days you can see any of them in a pasture and know which is which.
15. At 3 a.m. you hear an unexpected thunderstorm rolling in. You drag yourself out of your warm bed to bring the horses into shelter.
16. You can get an Arabian fit enough for a 100-mile endurance race or a Thoroughbred fit enough for a four-star three-day event.
17. You see six horses’a Mor gan, an Arabian, a Clydes dale, a Connemara, a Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred. You know which is which, and can explain to a non-horseman “why.”
18. You can ride with a snaffle, a gag, a pelham, a full bridle, or a hackamore with equal skill and ease.
19. You can determine which kind of bit is most appropriate for which horse under which circumstances.
20. You can deal with putting down a beloved horse when it’s become the right thing to do for the horse.
21. You can go on horse-hunting expeditions and not get “taken” very often.
22. Galloping over rugged, hilly terrain is quite a routine matter for you.
23. You can ride a wide range of unfa miliar horses and quite quickly assess them and improve the majority of them.
24. You can do credible George Morris and Jack Le Goff accents.
25. People from either the USET or USAEq currently hate you.
26. You can spot it when your horse has colic, and you know what to do about it until your veterinarian arrives.
27. Most of your competitors see your name in the pro gram and wish you weren’t in their division.
28. You can usually catch a horse turned out in a fairly large paddock.
29. You can do a full body clip and not have it resemble a checkerboard for weeks afterward.
30. Given the right horse, jumping a five-foot oxer doesn’t intimidate you because it’s not difficult for you.
31. Your stable is neat, clean and efficient, but your house and truck are its polar opposite.
32. Your parents ask you whether you’re ever going to get a “real job.”
33. During the competition season, your spouse and children remember you mainly from old photographs.
34. The physical and emotional well-being of your horses is a paramount objective of your entire program.
35. Your family has learned to fend for itself at mealtimes, but your horses are always fed punctually and meticulously.
36. The FedEx truck is constantly leaving blue Equitainers on your porch.
37. Someone says, “We shipped three stallions to five mares today,” and you know what they’re talking about.
38. One of your ideas of bliss is a secluded nook, two free hours, and the latest issue of The Blood-Horse Stallion Register.
39. You would almost rather see the latest Chronicle in your mailbox than a letter from Brad Pitt.
40. You can choose a mare, choose a stallion, and 10 years later be competing the resulting foal yourself.
41. You can study the pedigree and race record of a Thoroughbred mare or stallion and know a great deal about that horse.
42. You can competently design and construct a preliminary jumper course.
43. It’s Christmas morning, and you’ve invited your entire extended family for dinner. There is a colic emergency at the barn. Everyone in your family is at dinner at your house except you.
44. You have a pretty good idea when it’s smarter and safer to longe a horse before you just climb aboard.
45. You walk into the barn on a winter evening and hear your horses munching hay. You find it to be about the most soothing and relaxing sound you know.