Friday, April 8, 2016

Conversation Tips for Non-Equestrians

When horse people get together, the talking is effortless. There are so many shared struggles and laughs that it just breaks down boundaries between age, gender, class, race, and profession. Let's face it: we're all basically 12 year olds with a pony and life is AWESOME. That is super easy to talk about.

This post isn't for you.

This post is for your supportive friend or SO who tags along to a lesson or social event. All of a sudden, they're awash in a sea of (mostly) women who (mostly) only care about horses and who (mostly) only want to talk about horses.

Even if you don't know thing one about horses, these people are really easy to talk to. Let me show you how.

1) "Your horse is pretty."
just say it

You can never go wrong with a compliment. Even if the horse is a total asshole and she's on the brink of selling him, she kept him to this point for a reason. And if he's already for sale, GREAT. She likes that he looks marketable. There is the one-off oddball (CARLY) who doesn't think her horse is pretty, but she's going to be entertained that you hold a different opinion and certainly be willing to talk about that.

Bonus: horses don't actually care if they're pretty or not (by and large), so you aren't creating long term gender-gap issues for them by commenting on their appearance.

Note: if you're not the sort of person who says "pretty", you can substitute a number of other complimentary adjectives here--"powerful", "expressive", "fancy", or frankly, even "large". Just say something nice and the horse person has already started talking. Score 1 for you.

2) "How did you get started riding?"
cough and was it with purple boots?

People love to talk about themselves. Everyone comes to horses in a little different way, but they all ended up spending obscene (for their budgets) amounts of money on an accident-prone quadruped with compactors for feet. If you really can't stand horses, pretend the horse is a dinosaur. BAM. Interesting. Why did she tame the dinosaur?

Bonus: This just invites people to tell stories and lots of stories are interesting. I also think people are interesting, but ymmv on that one.

Note: If you're at a Parelli gathering or carriage-driving party, copy/paste the world your SO uses the most often and run with it.

3) "What are your goals with (horse)?"
is this a goal?
This question might take a little understanding, but few people who go to a horse party or hang out at a barn just have a horse for warehousing purposes. In fact, if they do, they should be easy to spot by their willingness to talk to you about LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE. Those people are not real horse people and you do not get SO bonus points for talking to them, unless your SO is dodging them.

So. Ask what they're trying to accomplish and all of a sudden, instead of hearing the minutiae of crossrails or renvers or something else unpronouncable and dull, you're hearing about Derbies and Competitions and Dreams and Plans.

Bonus: If you're a people person, this is another great way to learn about people-as-they-relate-to-horses, instead of just hearing about horses.

Note: This question somewhat pre-supposes that you've already asked a preceding question that gave you ponykins name. If you did not (or just plain forgot), just say "your horse" and smile because who doesn't love that little moment of realizing that they own a thousand pounds of pure muscle?
you might meet an Alyssa of your own!
The great thing about these tips is they work for all types of non-horse people. If you're a people-loving extrovert, it creates a few simple openings to learn about the people around you and engage with them. If you're a people-neutral introvert just trying to fill enough silence to avoid the appearance of awkwardness, you've asked a leading question to get someone to talk and fill air time for you. What's not to love?

Those are my starter tips. What did I miss?


  1. Bahaha Great tips for the non horsey folk. Love it!

  2. How can she give me crap when she had purple boots? That is not allowed.

    Also, look at that cute little husband of mine :)

  3. No that isn't a goal, but maybe feeling zen while it happens means I've arrived at some sort of inner nirvana? Also, if they don't want to say pretty, they could say shiny!

  4. Great tips! I'll pass this along to all non-horsey friends and family

  5. Oh I was hoping this would be a list of things I can talk about with non-equestrians. Cause I got nothin for them.

    1. I generally ask about their kids and then try to pretend my eyes haven't glassed over.

  6. Additional topics: Where are the other non-horsey husbands? Can I scurry away to go talk to them about video games?

    Topics to avoid: Can we go home now?

  7. Ha fwiw Isabel happens to feel very strongly on the subject of her own prettiness and hopes nobody every forgets it ;)

  8. hahaha! love these, they are so true lol. More non horse people need to read this!!

  9. "So what is the point here?" To say about someone doing dressage. Which I don't really have an answer for.

  10. Nearly spat my drink out within the first few lines. This is a hoot.


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