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When You're The "Weird Horse Girl" In The Family

When You're The "Weird Horse Girl" In The Family

Justine Griffin

Every time I’m with my family – around the holidays, at a cousin’s wedding, a niece’s baptism, you name it – I’m asked the same onslaught of questions over and over again.

Some have evolved over time. Like the, “when are you going to get married?” has turned into “when are you going to have kids?“. But there’s still a few questions from grandmas, aunts and uncles that are notoriously awkward, and it usually has to do with horses.

When I was younger, family members found it cute that I liked horses so much. Now that I’m a 30-something adult with a professional career, the girlish charm has certainly faded away. So the prying questions, you see, can get kind of weird.

Your poor husband doesn’t care that you spend so much time at the barn? Maybe you should reconsider your priorities,” my own mother told me recently.

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I cringed.

I understand the sentiment – balancing “real life” priorities with the ones I have at the barn are a constant struggle. Luckily for me, I have a super supportive partner. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to explain our arrangement of which comes first, him and the house, or the horse.

Most of the time, my family just doesn’t get it. Clearly I’m not going to the Olympics tomorrow, but I do treat my goals and routine like any other sport. It requires an intense commitment and a helluva lot of work. And the whole game is fraught with steep emotional highs and lows because… horses.

How do you even begin to explain your passion for something so absurd to Uncle Jim casually over Thanksgiving? You don’t. Instead, you just drink more wine.

After years of enduring their probing questions, I’ve come to accept that I’ll forever be “the weird horse girl” in the family. I guess it could be worse.

I think at this point they just roll their eyes, too. Like when I had to cancel attending a baby shower because I fell off my horse and cracked open my helmet. Or because I’d already sent in a non-refundable check with my horse show entries that happened to be the same weekend as my nephew’s seventh birthday.

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But they still take time out of their day to share silly, viral horse videos and memes on my Facebook timeline. At least one of them shares the “52 Thoroughbreds need homes” post every year. I appreciate that they take time out of their day when they see a horse on the Internet and think of me. Even if they don’t get it, like at all.

So while my cousins oogle over makeup and eyebrow-pruning tips from Instgram on Chrismas Eve, I quietly peruse for sale ads and videos just to pass the time, without shame.

My Aunt Trish may be irrationally fearful of horses and totally not understand why they make me so happy, but at least my husband does.

He understands that barn time is the key to my happiness. And as long as he understands, I don’t think I need anyone else to.

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