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The mental health of horse people (or lack of)

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  • #41
    I just saw Best in Show last night [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] It was so good! Hilarious! I loved the yuppie couple and they're crazy escapades. I couldn't help but think some of those people (in the movie) were similar to horse people - like the ultra pampering of their pets and the paranoia/hysteria that their animal is a little "off".


    • #42
      and some others - I don't see more "dysfunctional" people in horses than anywhere else.

      Add to the stress of the A circuit (which, thankfully, I'm not on) - breeders. A wild cross between "Best in Show" and A circuit loonies.

      BUT, joking aside, I think there is too much emphasis on "normalcy" in today's society. What is normal? IMO, it's an artificial standard similar to "average" - you take all the wide range of human behaviour, apply mathmatical wizardy somehow to come out with numerical values, and find the middle. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

      Live in a small town - you'll see every range of behaviour there is.

      I say, Long live eccentricity! It's the eccentrics who bring colour and spice to our otherwise fairly routine lives.

      Or am I digressing again? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]


      • #43
        I must say I was struck, and a little dismayed, at how the posts in this thread seem to use "mental health problems," "neurotic," "dysfunctional," "wacky," and "eccentric" as interchangable...especially when this is done by mental health professionals. One person's quirky is another's mentally ill, and I think it is a little dangerous to throw around terms like that cavalierly without defining them appropriately.

        Many people have noted that there seem to be as many "odd ducks" in other parts of society as there are in the horse world. I agree with those who noted that within the horse world, it often seems like it's the trainers who are the weirdest, or the most removed from reality. This, I think, is not necessarily due to the fact that they are inherently more "dysfunctional" but that they exist in a very closely circumscribed world where they have a lot of power and make all the rules. This environment may encourage some individuals--especially those who are not highly educated in the "outside world"--to ignore appropriate boundaries or otherwise act in ways that many would consider dysfunctional, because there is very little negative effect when they do...

        just my armchair psychology...


        • #44
          I have given this subject a lot of thought over the past few years. I've ridden western all my life, attending a lot of rather big shows and always rode with good trainers throughout the country. Not too many of them (or the customers, for that matter) were dysfunctional in any way. Normal as dirt. When I took up jumping several years ago, I was appalled at the difference. I have found that the customers seem pretty darn normal, it's the trainers that need heavy counseling, in my opinion. You know why customers turn crazy? It's because they have to DEAL with H/J trainers that generally have a loose screw or two!!!


          • #45
            A top trainer I know once said "The problem with working in the horse business is all the damn horse people."

            But, I digress. Yes, there are difficult and/or dysfunctional people in all aspects of society. And yes, I think the definition of normal depends alot on your point of view and the "social norms" of a given time and place. That being said, I think there are a few important points to consider.

            First, anybody who becomes involved with horses (or any animal activity for that matter) most likely is drawn to working with animals because they lack people skills. Either they are not comfortable with people, or flat out dislike them, and/or they failed to learn how to operate iwhtin a community when they were children. The trick is, most people don't get to become involved with animals by moving into a deep, dark jungle with them and eschewing human contact. Most animals come with human counterparts (or at least require additional human help, like vets), and so now you have a bunch of people who got involved with animal to get away from people, now just as involved with people as ever. So, you get this community of people who can't communicate or work with each other worth a bean.

            Second, being a competitive rider at a certain level does require a certain amount selfishness and self centerdness. I think this is the case in any competitive pursuit--when a goal takes over your life, their isn't room for much else in it. I think people who come into the perifery of a horseperson's life soon learn thatthey are not the most important thing. So, you have a lot of necessarily self-centered people in our community of horse folk.

            Finally, there are a lot of nutty people in the world. That's the way it goes. Everybody's got a problem, everybody's got issues, everybody's got a story. This ain't the Brady Bunch.


            • Original Poster

              "First, anybody who becomes involved with horses (or any animal activity for that matter) most likely is drawn to working with animals because they lack people skills. Either they are not comfortable with people, or flat out dislike them, and/or they failed to learn how to operate iwhtin a community when they were children."

              Sorry, I have to disagree. This is obviously your experience, so I am not saying you are wrong, but I know for myself, being an animal person has not been a compensatory reaction on my part to deal with people. In fact, my love for animals has if anything enhanced my relationships and developed my relationships with people. Frankly, I rarley dislike a person upon first meeting UNLESS they are clearly not animal people. In fact, non-animal lovers frighten me.

              I believe someone is getting confused with terminology, so I want to remind people of my request in begining this thread....please define the terms you choose to use. I say this so that we can at least argue in the same language!

              And to be clear, people can have quirks that are dysfunctional. People can also be eccentric without being dysfunctional. This is not a matter of normality vs weird...it's function vs. dysfunction. A lack of boundaries...either having or following them. It's having a neurotic personality that interferes with one's life or the lives of people who are in contact with that person.

              Dr. Horsefeathers, please feel free to add on....I believe you are more experienced than I am.


              • #47
                When I was much younger than I am today, I was "bitten" by the horse bug. Couldn't stop thinking, drawing, reading about horses. Going to the barn from sun up to sun down on the weekends and summer breaks. My life revolved around horses.
                It had my parents convienced that I was not "normal." Their little daughter had nothing to do with school (hated it), boys or anything else for that matter. I didn't want to go on family vacations because I would miss a show or two and my favorite four-legged friends would miss me!
                Yes, I even went to family counseling because of my so-called obsession.
                For more than 30 years now, the horse has played a major roll in my life. They have fulfilled my dreams, lifted my spirts, and give me a reason to live this life.
                Call me wacky, wierd, or even disfunctional, but I wouldn't have it any other way. To me the disfunctional people in this world are the ones who are the brown-nosers climbing the corporate ladders! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
                Secretplace Farm - Raising fine paint hunters since 1987


                • #48
                  Since I have been out of the "horseworld" for a while, yet still keeping a distant eye on the happenings.. (thus, invisible) I may have a different vew.

                  It frightens me to think of people living in such extremely small circles. I believe that many people get so enveloped in this make-believe world that they begin to lose sight of reality. A Grand Prix rider to an amatuer might seem god-like, yet a Grand Prix rider to a business executive is often thought of as a gay man in tights and a beanie.

                  My point is, people who are interested in horses should also keep one foot planted securely on the ground. It's just too easy to get caught up in all the corruption when you get sucked in. The good old-fashioned horse traders are standing knee deep in political manure, the people most effected by them are standing right along side. Step out for a minute and grab a breath of fresh air.. honest air.


                  • #49
                    jp I was as horse crazy as you.
                    My sainted parents were very tolerant of the whole thing.
                    Thanks in part to them being Golf Fanatics, haha, so we all respected each others hobbies.
                    In 6th grade a teacher called my mother in and showed her how every page of my class work would have a small horse drawn on the corner, and saying it just was not "normal", my dear mother told her that she loved the horse pictures, and they were more normal than if I was drawing boys all over everything, [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
                    Starman Babies


                    • #50
                      I've had a couple of parties where I foolishly mixed horse people with 'civilians'. Needless to say, I spent those evenings feeling like I was straddling the Maginot Line - horse people in my kitchen, yapping away about a recent show, hoarding the food; civilians in the living room talking politics, movies, children, and affaires des coeurs. The only horsey person who made the attempt to mix was our trainer. This is a man, though, who actually ventures outside the horse world for his amusement.

                      It's very easy to become consumed by the horse world and the entirety of one's life to be circumscribed by horses and similarly afflicted horse folk. I can assert that same observation, though, for computer geeks, investment bankers (though none from this BB [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] ), entertainment folk, stay-at-home-mothers, etc., etc.

                      I don't know if 'sanity' can be summarized as such but I do think a healthy outlook is greatly assisted by a balanced approach.


                      • #51
                        Now mind you, the very strict Off Course content monitors are not allowing us to broaden our horizons in a non-horsy way despite our best efforts. For example, were I to introduce the topic "Jim Jeffords Rocks" even though it is VERY horse-related (Morgans!) (the comatose Vermont Clique) it would surely be locked. Perhaps Heidi's argument will encourage them to loosen up so we do not all become dysfunctional social pariahs. And by the way, Jim Jeffords ROCKS.


                        • #52
                          Ooooh, nutmeg, you are clearly onto something.

                          I'd agree that the BB moderators owes it to the world at large to maintain our balanced sanity by indulging our need to talk about, who was it, Jim Jeffords? Was he in the Beverly Hillbillies, BTW?


                          • #53
                            He's the very cool senator from Vermont who is so disgusted by our C-student of a president that he is leaving the Republican party (which for a native Vermonter is tantamount to treason) and becoming an independent, thus denying the Bush administration a majority in the Senate! This changes the whole ball game! This is HUGE! Much like a Morgan's butt, to keep it horse related.


                            • #54
                              TK, you are SO busted on the shameless hawking of real estate!


                              • #55
                                Heidi, I've had one of those parties!!! The horse people NEVER mix! At one party there was even a near brawl over the artichoke cheese dip...horse people vs non-horse people...the horse people tried to capture the entire bowl of dip and hoard it in the dining room! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img]


                                • #56
                                  Sometimes I think, AAJumper, that it's not that horse folk spend too much time with horses and on the show circuit but that they've suffered too long with horse show food - and hence, their tendency to hoard food, and not even food, but dips. Ask me some time about the kafuffle over my crab dip. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

                                  Nutmeg, I've been watching Nightline and gotta concur, that Jim Jeffords was not only great in Beverly Hillbillies, but he is, indeed, one cool dude of integrity.


                                  • #57
                                    pacificsolo--of course not everybody has the same expereince, and I agree completely that my exposure to animals has enhanced my overall empathy and understafing of people.

                                    That being said, I still maintain on some level people become involed with animals because they are not comfortable with people. Obviously, the level of discomfort can be directly correlated to the amount of involment. I don't mean involvment in terms of "spends 40 hours a week at the barn", but involvment in the sense of "Has 100 cats and never leaves the house", or, to take it to its extreme conclusion, "would rather AIDS wiped out most of the world's population rather than have animal trials for vaccines". (And please, let's not debate the merits of various sorts of animal testing, that's for another thread). There are a lot less severe exampled, and I was certainly one of them: I was a tomboy who never felt like I was living up to anyone's expectations properly--not the lady and scholar my parents wanted, not the "joiner" or "partier" the school kids wanted, not the "Catholic" that the school wanted. The horse's didn't expect anything from me other than a decent rider and a carrot. Did I shun human contact, of course not, and the friends I made at the barn tauight me a lot about learning to get along with people, but the horses were attractive because they weren't people.

                                    I would also like to agree entirely about the issue of the horse world being a very small circle to travel in. Though I am still clearly a horse person, I am no longer ONLY a horse person--I work outside the horse world, and have other, non-horsey contacts. I recognize the difference when I spend time with old friends who are still only in the horse world, and discover that we have really nothing to talk about, except the horses. This strain became very obvious when I was recovering from my injury the last few years--all I was doing with horses was looking at them (and caring for them when I was able), and the covnersations became very strained indeed. My husband and I are both horse people, but we try to do non-horsey stuff a few times a month (movies, go to a play, etc)to try to "be outside of the box".


                                    • #58
                                      HEE HEE!!! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]


                                      • #59
                                        You hit the nail on the head with this,
                                        "It's very easy to become consumed by the horse world and the entirety of one's life to be circumscribed by horses and similarly afflicted horse folk. I can assert that same observation, though, for computer geeks, investment bankers (though none from this BB ), entertainment folk, stay-at-home-mothers, etc., etc."
                                        When I stand back for a moment [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] and look at my life (I'm a 23 yr. old artschool graduate doing graphic design and just bought my first horse this past fall-I've ridden since I was little) I think....what the hell am I doing?? and where the hell am I going?? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img] It is so easy to be caught up in anything! I think and some sports, jobs, hobbies, what have you, require a numerous amount of dedication and time in order to make them worthwhile. I can't just do sketches for 10 minutes and say, "Oh joy! I feel so fullfilled!"...just like I can't ride for 10 minutes and go home and say "wow, we got so much accomplished today" I think that anything that you really want to follow through on and be good at, you need to put a lot into it. Of course, there is the fine line between dedication and obsession....the thing is, I'll be the first to admit...I'm not sure I know where that fine line is. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img]
                                        \"Donuts. Is there anything they can\'t do?\"


                                        • #60
                                          it seems to me that any group with common interests tends to get focused on that interest to the exclusion of other things.

                                          I've been in gatherings where the women were in the living room talking about nothing but children (in gross detail), recipes, and various housewifery topics while the men were in the kitchen talking ballgames, business and sniggery jokes.

                                          I've been at entertainment industry functions - now there's a GOOD place to find disfunctional people! Topics: agents, facelifts, agents, self, agents, self, etc.

                                          I've been to business gatherings - golf, latest government corporate welfare packages, golf, office gossip, golf.

                                          Then I went to a meeting of our local horse people. Topics: horses, kids, other farm animals and functions, politics, history, african violets, music, theater, etc. etc.

                                          The difference, IMO? Our horse group mostly consists of people who have known each other a long time and feel comfortable discussing a wide range of topics, rather than just the safe neutral ground of one shared interest. We even feel safe disagreeing with each other.

                                          So were all the people at the other groups disfunctional? Not necesarily. I believe that everyone had more facets than were shown at these various functions, but the nature of the gatherings didn't really offer the opportunity to find out, since everyone was being very PC and careful to stay on neutral ground.

                                          Point is, it takes awhile to feel that conversation outside a circumscribed area is appropriate - and if you're a pro, why would you take a chance on offending potential clients by expressing opinions on topics outside your field which might not be in agreement with the person(s) with whom you are conversing?

                                          There's an idea in here somewhere -