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Been thinking about our new Friendless member and how so many of us wish he... or she... lived closer so we could buddy up and ride... and been thinking about the comments about the age differences.

It put me to thinking about when you have horses, owning and riding, as a hobby or even a lifestyle, how they bring people together. If horses and the love of them is a common denominator? Age, race, religion, politics... none of that matters. At least not enough to stop you from being friends with someone like minded who also rides horses.

They bring people together, they introduce you to new friends of all ages and of varying disciplines.

They can reunite you with old friends you thought long gone out of your life.

I've made so many new friends, both through online groups, trail rider groups, meeting people while camping in the same areas with our horses. They're as young as 11, and as old as mid-70s. Some are 3rd and 4th generation horsemen and horsemoms, they grew up on a horse. Others learned late in life by taking lessons in an arena.

They can and will by necessity, change your life. They change what you do in your free time, and who you do it with. They'll change your body, your health, your circle of friends and IMO, if you do it right, for the better.

I could tell two dozen long winded stories about the people my horses have brought into my life and the ones I've been reunited with. I could talk about how artificial social constructs we all deal with seem to get stripped away when horses come into your life, such as age difference or married women shouldn't be fraternizing with men they aren't married to and vice versa...

But what are YOUR stories? What surprising changes have happened in YOUR circle of friends?
 

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LOL...we bought this farm and closed in January. The house needed to be remodeled, and fences built. We had met the closest neighbors by March or so.

April or so, one of the neighbors was walking the dog, and we stopped to introduce ourselves. We told him we were building fences because we have horses....they have a mule and a horse, and like to trail ride, but DO NOt ride with that lady down the street....because she’s crazy and does that ENDURANCE !!!

I could not look her up on AERC and Arabian Datasource FAST enough!!! The next time we came up, I went down and introduced myself! We’ve been riding together for 7 years! She’s 40, I’m 60.
 

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This is a fantastic topic! All of us have stories like this to tell. I honestly can't pick one over the other, but I can say that I agree with what you've said. Despite age, gender, ethnicity, etc. We can all bond over the love of the animals and the lifestyle. I have many good friends of all ages because of horses. I've even made good friends on IG who've I've never met before that I've bonded with over horses.

One thing I love about horses is that you have to be yourself around them. Not only do horses show us a lot about ourselves but they by watching someone with their horse, you learn a lot about them as a person too. That tears down the false structures people can raise when making new friends. We have all had those moments where we see how someone treats their horse (or even dog or cat) and we instantly judge who they are by it. Honestly, I trust those judgements. Sharing a lifestyle or hobby with another person gives a sort of satisfaction that cant be recreated falsely.
 

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I was at a horse show one day and a young lady came up and said hello. I didn't recognize her as I hadn't seen her for several years and she was much younger then, a friend of my daughter's. She had a couple of horses and being young I said I would come over and ride with her as I didn't like her riding alone and we did some nice rides. Then I moved away and she called to say she got a lovely young horse to train, again I said I would come over and ride with her as this was the first horse she had started herself.

At the show she said to me that she never realized until years later how much help I gave her when she was starting to ride and didn't know how much she didn't know.


She introduced me to her husband and he asked me if I had ever lived in Markham Ont. This was years earlier and he and his family were visiting friends there and their hosts called to see if they could come over and see the horses, I gave him a ride, he was only about 4 yrs old at the time. He said it was one of the best experiences and he never forgot it.


So there was a person from my past and another one from my even more past. How they met each others I don't know.

A friend of mine said to me once that whenever we go to some horsey affair that I always run into some one that I knew from way back when. I guess that's what happens if you live long enough.
 

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It is my experience that horse people are incredibly bad listeners, and that they know exactly (a) what you want to say and (b) what the appropriate solution is, about 10 seconds into sharing an experience or anecdote with them. Take today for example. I didn't have a terribly smooth ride with Hamlet (not a disaster either, just a training ride rather than a tourist ride I'd kind of have enjoyed more today), and I told BO's daughter about it, as she asked how my ride was. Shortly after beginning to relate my story, she told me the "solution": It's the spring air. It makes horses a little crazy.

To back up her thesis, she related to me that BO's stallion tried to lunge at her over the fence. Yeah, well...I don't know what her relationship with that horse is, but when he sees me, he comes bouncing to the fence from wherever he is, and if he's a little fast in the approach, I put up my hand to stop him. He always stops with his nose on his side of the fence, and then he inquires whether I brought any goodies for him, so no - in my experience, this horse has not been made crazy by the spring air. But at that time, I really wasn't in the mood anymore for a conversation...seeing that she knew exactly what's going on...so I let it drop.

This is just one example, but an example that repeated itself again and again, from barn to barn. So no, I tend not to interact with other horse people in person. At least here, you gotta let me finish my story before you get to butt in!
 

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...At least here, you gotta let me finish my story before you get to butt in!
Are you done? I've got something to say. Just kidding.

The people you describe are a dime a dozen. You kind of have to sort through those to find the good horse people. There are a lot of good horse people who are on here because they actually want to listen, learn and share experiences.

You can spot a good horse person at a barn or on a ride because they are always watching. The rest of the crowd will do their own thing and they don't care what you are doing with your horse. The real horse person sidles up and watches (unless their own horse is keeping them occupied), trying to see what you're doing with the horse and how it's working out for you. Their lips will remain sealed except for maybe some polite greetings, until they see you are really struggling, and that's when they may offer to try something with the horse for/with you, or ask you a question that might lead you to a different tactic.

I think a sign of a good horse person is that they will offer you an idea for a possible solution, but as a suggestion and not an absolute. Such as, they might suggest the horses are energetic from the nicer weather, but then offer to ride out with you for a gallop the next day to help with the energy.

Relating to the topic, I find that horses can often be a real equalizer. As someone said, a person's skills and abilities with a horse are not easily bluffed and you are who you are. I've gone out with people like doctors and some who walk around owning the world normally, but with the horses they needed reassurances and instruction on how to be confident and assertive.

It's been common for me to ride with people who have extremely different views about a lot of things in life based on what they post online. Yet I wouldn't know that otherwise, because that is unimportant out riding. I've discovered that sometimes the younger riders in teens and twenties can be more timid and the older riders can be rather bold. When we're with the horses, age doesn't matter, and if you can't handle the horse or situation or have talked yourself up, this quickly becomes apparent.
 

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It is my experience that horse people are incredibly bad listeners, and that they know exactly (a) what you want to say and (b) what the appropriate solution is, about 10 seconds into sharing an experience or anecdote with them. Take today for example. I didn't have a terribly smooth ride with Hamlet (not a disaster either, just a training ride rather than a tourist ride I'd kind of have enjoyed more today), and I told BO's daughter about it, as she asked how my ride was. Shortly after beginning to relate my story, she told me the "solution": It's the spring air. It makes horses a little crazy.

To back up her thesis, she related to me that BO's stallion tried to lunge at her over the fence. Yeah, well...I don't know what her relationship with that horse is, but when he sees me, he comes bouncing to the fence from wherever he is, and if he's a little fast in the approach, I put up my hand to stop him. He always stops with his nose on his side of the fence, and then he inquires whether I brought any goodies for him, so no - in my experience, this horse has not been made crazy by the spring air. But at that time, I really wasn't in the mood anymore for a conversation...seeing that she knew exactly what's going on...so I let it drop.

This is just one example, but an example that repeated itself again and again, from barn to barn. So no, I tend not to interact with other horse people in person. At least here, you gotta let me finish my story before you get to butt in!
Ride farther apart. Then you can't hear them when they interrupt.
 

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The really sad thing is, in my community, all the horse people are VERY divided. Everyone from every stable seems to think that everyone from every OTHER stable is crazy or does everything wrong. It wasn't like that with the people I rode with, growing up. I do know that where I live now, the wage gap is HUGE and while I don't think it necessary leads to the "clique" phenomenon that you'd think it would, it does lead to quiet resentment between the horse people.

As with many disciplines, with horses there's the phenomenon of "the more you know, the more you know you don't know," and the most popular lesson/boarding barn in the area is also the least skilled and most dangerous. (I know this firsthand because I rode there for two months before I knew better.) My current instructor is a big believer in teaching in slow and thorough ways, in private or semi-private lessons, but because she doesn't just let kids hop on and bomb around unsupervised, her barn is less popular. She has just a few core regular students, and we don't tend to overlap our time very much. It makes for a very solo experience riding there, though I do really enjoy the company of my instructor, and I have a great relationship with her. My riding has come a lot farther than it would have in big group lessons and I'm able to ride (when I'm fit and riding regularly, haha) with a finesse and understanding that I've never had before.

However! I have made a few nice social connections in the area, through horses, that I really should explore further. I know two really nice women who are generally up for having a trail riding buddy, and they have decent horses who take good care of you. It's a nice change from technical riding in the ring -- just hitting up the trails and getting some sunshine. We don't see eye to eye on a lot of political and social matters, and that has always mattered a lot to me, but if we can just shut up on those topics we can enjoy a nice ride. And shutting up is sometimes a skill worth developing. :lol:
 

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"but if we can just shut up on those topics we can enjoy a nice ride. And shutting up is sometimes a skill worth developing.
"


very true - there is benefit to agreeing to disagree and just move on, if other areas of the friendship are positive. Pretty much all of my social circle are horse people, I am a farrier and since we moved to a new province pretty much all the people other than my husband's coworkers that I meet are horsey.
 

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I love this. It's so true...honestly, I've met some of the best people through horses. We all share a passion for them.

That being said, of course there are people that I despise in my community. :lol: Snobby or fake people. But, good people are here, few and far between.
The people at my barn are very genuine and everyone is supportive of one another. It's really nice. At other barns, a lot of people were fake. No matter what, horse people or not, there are good and bad. That's a no-brainer.

However, I DEFINITELY feel like I get along better with 'horse' people, rather than non-horse people...it's so nice to share the joy and love of horses. Like, talking about your horse to others with horses, sharing stories, etc. It's nice. Always something to talk about, or even vent about (like vet bills for instance!).

It's true, you can really tell a lot about a person from how they treat their horse(s) too. And yes, there are people who are stubborn, or think their way is the only way, & aren't open to learning...the people like that won't really get very far. I'm humble. Horses humbled me. I am confident, but humble...I know there is always more to learn. I like being around people that are humble in the horse world.
@mmshiro I agree, some people really are bad listeners...I just ignore them. They will eventually find out, or learn their lesson...maybe.
 

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My best friend is almost 80 and I'm in my early 40's. We met about 20 years ago when we both moved into the same neighborhood within a few months of each other. I had two Arabians at the time that were previously boarded. I was pretty new to horses, within a few years.

So she stopped by one time and introduced herself to my father when he was outside working. He told me there was this lady that stopped by that wanted to ride with me. Apparently she had horses too but didn't have them at her house yet as they just moved in. So I said okay, I gave her a call and put her on my beginner-safe horse.......because I had no idea of her riding skills or anything.

After one ride I discovered that she was a LOT more experienced than I was, had ridden in the Tevis, showed horses with her daughter, etc. So the next ride I put her on my spirited Arabian. Well, she handled him just fine but that wasn't her kind of horse, lol! So she rode the beginner Arabian after that, who was lazy and calm.

We still look back on those days and laugh because Arabians aren't her thing.......she actually rather dislikes the breed. She has Missouri Fox Trotters. (Now I am into Fox Trotters too, they are more fun than a barrel of monkeys!) We still ride together and are great friends, 20 years later. Who knew something that started out so random, like a stranger stopping by, could end up in a 20 year friendship? I've had other riding buddies too, that seem to come and go, but me and my neighbor with the big age difference stick together after all these years.

One thing I DO find, is that many horse people are set in their ways. They have their favorite breed and favorite way of doing things and seem to think anything else is inferior. I really don't know why that is. I love all breeds and even though I find gaited horses so much fun, I would still be happy owning a non-gaited horse. I still love Arabians. And my favorite horse was a BLM Mustang. So I am open to all different types of horses and would love to learn more about different types of riding (I only trail ride, western).

But I have had other friends who are stuck on "their" breed and "their" style. I guess I just love everything horse related, and although I have favorites (did I mention Fox Trotters are a blast!?) I wouldn't knock someone who loves stock horses or Thoroughbreds or Arabians or whatever. Or who rides english or endurance or (fill in blank). So I never understood the rigidity some people have. But I would definitely say age makes no difference when it comes to horses. I am even happy riding with other people's kids as long as I am not responsible for their safety. I find horses to be a great unifier.
 

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Horse ownership has been a strange falling into things that hasn't led me to any particularly new friendships yet, but has enforced old relationships in new ways and I am eagerly hoping to meet others in my area. Horses or not, I've never cared much about age difference in friendships. My parents were older when they had me, so I'm almost 26 now and mom is 68. I have a few close friends from college my age, but other than that the bulk of my friend group is nearing their 40's, and my partner is 31. Having worked in food service before finding a full-time position, I've also worked with folks significantly younger than me who have been amazing.

When my aunt started running the small local boarding barn, I wanted to spend more time there there but felt like I was intruding. When she gave me my mare and I started boarding with her, we spent a lot more time together not just in lessons but also just sitting in her office talking. I've always been close to my mom but I am spending more time with her now than I have since grad school and she's been really happy to have horses around again... she has clearly been missing her younger days riding and has been thinking about contacting some old friends and I think she should, it couldn't hurt. Mom misses riding terribly and while her safety concerns me a bit, I think mentally and emotionally it might be really good for her. I think when she gave up riding so many years ago it really hurt her social life. So we have been considering searching for a steady horse that takes direction easily for her, or at least borrowing one of my aunt's (if there is one who is appropriate under saddle for her.)

When I told my partner what we were considering I jokingly said, "And who knows, maybe one day you'd want to ride with me." To my surprise he told me he would like that. Of all the times I've talked about wanting to own a horse, I never knew he had any interest. He told me how his dad owned horses but that he doesn't remember much about them. Our families are both from the same area and that's actually what my family remembers his dad for, his horsemanship; I've heard them talk before about the horses he rode. From what I understand he rode beautiful, excellently trained horses... but was a cruel man to his family. He passed away when my partner was a young teen. Maybe the horses are something he can look back on of his father without remembering the bad things.

I've seen people come together and fall apart when my aunt was still running the boarding barn. I am hoping as I begin casual riding lessons that I will have the opportunity to meet "good" horse people and get more involved over time, with younger and older riders. I am at a slight disadvantage because I currently don't own a horse trailer and don't have a vehicle to pull one even if I did, so any activities that involve traveling off my parent's property will only be by the aid of my aunt's two-horse trailer. But, all things will come with time.
 

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We use some of our horses in a church outreach ministry that provides kiddie rides for local events. It's a great way for us to meet new people and the horses have done really well. :D
 

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@mmshiro I agree, some people really are bad listeners...I just ignore them. They will eventually find out, or learn their lesson...maybe.
Well, I'm quickly running out of people to talk to. Here's another one - just tonight. Talked to BO, thought I'd amuse him with a story of my lessons at the Arabian farm. I barely uttered the words that I'm taking lessons on a six-year old trainee horsey, when he interrupted to tell me what I should really do.

"What you really need to do is taking lessons on a schoolmaster." – and he listed all the advantages of taking lessons on a schoolmaster, talking to me as though I had discovered just yesterday the wonderful world of horseback riding.

There was no clarifying question like, "You aren't taking lessons on a schoolmaster?" (Yes, I did, for the first two lessons, to assess my skills.)

There was no question about what *I* want to achieve with those lessons (I'm not interested in discipline-specific advanced skills, I'm interested in being able to hop on a horse I don't know well and make it work (go from A to B) in a cooperative fashion.)

I wanted to tell him that I rode the cutest horse that basically has the same personality as his (also adorable) two-year old, and that my legs feel like I just hit the gym after a 6 months hiatus...but I really wasn't in the mood to hear any more asinine life lessons.

Is that what you ladies call "mansplaining"? You really have to stop taking it personally - it's not you, it's the person you are talking to.

So anyway, each time this happens, I am a little less likely to seek contact to strangers, as making small talk is really a chore for me in itself. So I go, say Hi, and avoid any interaction that lacks a concrete objective in regards to my horse's welfare and keeping. And when I'm on the horse, I'm even less tolerant of nonsense like that.
 

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I have horse friends, not acquaintances, from the ages of 8 to 74. I definitely think horse people are drawn to each other. I'd rather hang out with an 8 year old who gets horses than a person my age who doesn't. I have friends from my old lesson barn, friends from my gymkhana club, friends from my current barn, and various people I've met along the way. I'm not even good at making or maintaining friendships!

We went to a local PRCA rodeo this past weekend and I saw friends every direction I looked. Before horses, I never saw anyone I knew anywhere. I was particularly happy to see one of my 16 year old friends and her mom and catch up on our horses and endeavors.

The western horse community here is a small world, even though I live in a big place. I enjoy belonging to a group of people with similar values and interests.
 

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The really sad thing is, in my community, all the horse people are VERY divided. Everyone from every stable seems to think that everyone from every OTHER stable is crazy or does everything wrong. It wasn't like that with the people I rode with, growing up. I do know that where I live now, the wage gap is HUGE and while I don't think it necessary leads to the "clique" phenomenon that you'd think it would, it does lead to quiet resentment between the horse people.

imho the wage gap absolutely contributes to the issue, but aside, oh man, I hate when that happens. Happens with other critters too: my dad's been following a poodle rescue FB page (we have a rescue poodle, and have had 2 previously), and reports it's the same there: people are wildly divided over the best ways to take care of animals, and absolutely vitriolic toward the "wrong" side.



The worst part is that it puts animals in the proverbial crossfire, when they have no say in their care or lot in life. It's also terrible on a different level is when it ends up with kids - or grownups, but kids have less recourse - being bullied or belittled. My instructor (a woman who's been riding for longer than most of the barn workers have been alive) told me about going to her first show, with her horse, a connemara cross (so a lovely, stout horse) and having the judge rather snidely tell her "You and your plow horse can go home now, little girl." >:|



I don't know that the arguments and divisiveness is more prevalent per se, or if it only seems that way because folks have much greater access to a wide variety of information, and open forums (like this one! kidding) to voice their opinions and rally others to their "side".
 
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