It doesn’t matter if you haven’t ridden in years or if horses still fit into your daily routine. There are some sights and smells that draw us back to our “horse days” no matter where we are in the world nor our current stage in life. Because once you’re an equestrian, you’re always an equestrian. It’s in your blood.
Here are some of those sights and smells that take us back to our favorite barn days.
The sound of horses munching hay in an otherwise quiet barn. There’s nothing more comforting than walking into the barn in the morning just after breakfast was dropped. The farm is quiet because of the early hour, but you’re enveloped in the soft sound of horses eating hay in their warm stalls.
Fly spray. This is admittedly a weird one, but the smell of fly spray always makes me think of the farm in summer time. There’s human bug spray, but there’s nothing quite like the smell of horse fly spray.
Driving by fenced pastures. I think this one is universal for horse girls young and old. When you drive by a horse barn, you’ve got to slow down and take a look. Even if there are no ponies in the pasture, I get a flicker in my chest just to see pretty rolling green hills.
Counting strides in between the sidewalk cracks. It was a game I started as a kid and still find myself doing well into my 30s, no matter if I’m walking the dog or the familiar block to the office. A three-stride one way, then I lengthen to make it a two-stride the next. But I NEVER land a foot on the actual crack. I don’t want four faults!
Getting dirty. No matter how immaculate your barn is, no one comes home from a day with horses unscathed. Just recently I was doing yard work with my husband and felt a wave of nostalgia for the horse farm as I walked into the house hot, sunburned, and covered in dirt and sweat.
Watching your barn friends’ lessons. Maybe you’re seeing their videos now in your Facebook feed and you’re experiencing some serious FOMO. But some of my best barn days are the long ones, when I hang out after a ride to watch a friend’s lesson, or help them unpack their trailer, or just laze around in the tack room cleaning saddles and catching up. Barn friends are the best friends.
Pulling off tall boots at the end of a long day. Your ankles are probably throbbing. But there’s no better relief than unzipping those babies at the end of a long day and letting those stinky, sweaty toes air out.
When people complain about their expensive hobby. Maybe you’re out with friends or co-workers for happy hour, and they’re complaining about the fees for their next triathlon. Oh, if they only knew how much you could pay for two days of competition at a rated horse show. Or the astronomical tabs that come from the vet clinic. But instead you just sip your drink quietly and laugh to yourself.
Identifying 10+ movers in other animals. You watched the neighborhood’s feral cat skirt across the street from one trash can to the next and are struck by the tabby’s fluid, daisy-cutter movement. It certainly brings you right back to horses.
Clucking at strangers and inanimate objects. I find myself doing this a lot when I’m stuck in traffic or 90-year-old Betty Sue is doing 45 in a 65. Or even at the grocery store, when strangers are aimlessly blocking a whole aisle as they meander around. Forward is key, right?!!