Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Live with an Equestrian


(Catch the audio here.)

Little did I know that my decision to live with an equestrian would have such a broad impact on my life. Over the course of the past few years, I have learned that there are actual rules governing life with an equestrian, and the sooner these rules are grasped, the sooner life will operate more smoothly for all involved.

The first rule of living with an equestrian is to remember that bedrooms are for sleeping and for keeping clothes on the floor. They are not places for hanging out, decorating, organizing, or spending any amount of time on activities that do not involve sleeping. Guys, if your mother ever told you that you should never marry a girl until you see the state in which she keeps her bedroom, it is probably not a good idea for you to consider marrying an equestrian. Or, if this proves an impossible stipulation for you, a good rule of thumb is to check out her tack box. Her bedroom may be a hot mess, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a peek into her tack box will reveal a veritable organizational feast for the eyes involving polo wraps neatly rolled and snugged together in rows, spray bottles arranged with the handles all tilted just-so, and fun photos arranged collage-style at eye-level directly across from the door. Contrast this with the starkly-white, unadorned walls and the laundry-littered floor of her bedroom, and you will begin to have a good idea of what it feels like to live with an equestrian.

The second rule of living with an equestrian is to adopt the mindset that having an equestrian in the home is much like having a new pet. As soon as the floors have been wet-mopped, your equestrian will arrive home full of the energy and joie de vivre of a good ride, tracking mud behind them, blissfully unaware of having committed a crime. Just like household pets often leave hair on the furniture and favorite toys in weird places, equestrians leave wads of hay clogging the lint trap of the dryer, damp saddle pads hanging over the backs of chairs, piles of tack and tack cleaner in random spots of the common areas, and abandoned socks scattered everywhere. A personal favorite around this house is something we've dubbed the Polo Wrap Octopus, which emerges from the dryer a snarling mass of tangled cloth and Velcro, skulking around the living room for days before finally being subdued and trundled off to the tack box.

Equestrians are even known to leave dark, damp spots on the carpet... only don't be alarmed: it's usually just neatsfoot oil.

Usually.

Furthermore, like most family pets, equestrians are sometimes guilty of offensive odors. We are not talking here about mere body odor (which also can be rather alarming, but that is a separate issue). We are talking instead of the shock of opening the lid of the washing machine only to be knocked back ten feet by the stench of day-old, forgotten saddle pads which had been dumped for a cleaning and then promptly forgotten. We're talking about the potent marinade of boots after a rainy day, and those abandoned socks, some of which would give finely-cured French cheeses a run for their money.

It should be remembered, though, that much like having a family pet, the positives of having an equestrian in the house far outweigh the negatives. The sheer amusement value of their wardrobe choices alone begin to make up for the detractions. I am not just talking about the "put something here" mishmash of barn wear which often constitutes the equestrian's best attempt at outer-wear, either. I'm talking about how adorable it is to watch an equestrian dress up for a formal event. If you're fortunate enough to live with an equestrian who owns an actual pair of dress shoes, and can remember which decade they were purchased in, you're doing pretty well. 

Which brings me to a list.

Common Phrases Most Likely Uttered by Your Equestrian:

1. "What should I wear tonight?" This is generally uttered about ten minutes before you are both due to leave for an important event just as the equestrian is jumping out of the shower. It should be translated as, "What of yours will fit me, and do you have matching shoes in my size?"

2. "Who's driving?" This phrase is uttered as you are both on your way out the door. It should be translated as, "If you want me to drive, you'll either have to move or sit on top of a pile of wet towels, three saddles, two saddle trees, assorted mismatched spurs, a half-drunk two-liter of Gatorade, a hammer, overdue library books, a deflated beach ball, and a hoof pick." One time, as I was getting into my equestrian's truck, she said to me, "You'll have to move the video camera. And the machete. And the Lidocane." Somebody call Ann Rule. 

3. "What's for dinner?" If you live with a rare Cooking Equestrian, this means, "Which boxed mix should I stir up tonight: the Hamburger Helper or the Kraft mac and cheese?" If you live with the more common non-cooking breed, this should be translated either as "Where are you taking me for dinner?" or "Which Styrofoam container holds the least moldy leftovers?"

4. "What are we doing this weekend?" I threw this last one in as a joke, because if you live with an equestrian, you will never hear this. Friday nights are for going on group trail rides, Saturdays and Sundays are either for horse shows (which, if you have a Western Equestrian isn't so bad, but if you have one of those Dressage Equestrians, good luck even understanding what that's all about), or for conking out on the living room floor in exhaustion, because if there's one thing equestrians do not do well (other than housework) it is getting enough rest and/or generally taking care of themselves until they're practically dying of exhaustion. 

As previously stated, many parallels exists between having an equestrian in the home and having a new pet. Most likely the strongest parallel would be although they both track mud across the floor, leave their toys around the house, and make messes on the carpets, the fun and companionship that they bring to the home more than offset any perceived inconvenience. 

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