Adventures on Horseback: You might be a horse nerd if…

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

I’m a horse nerd.

I admit it freely. I own it. I can’t help it.

I blame it on growing up with horses and learning a riding and training system that is always focused on how things work and how they affect the horse.

How does one know if they are a horse nerd? Horse nerds are different from horse lovers.

Horse lovers are always willing to talk horses. They talk about their exciting rides, famous riders or horses, they even talk about their injuries. But horse nerds are another thing altogether.

We’re the ones who not only know how many fillies have won the Kentucky Derby, but can tell you their names, in order. Just so you know, they are Regret, Genuine Risk and Winning Colors.

Horse nerds are the ones who can’t just watch a horse movie, but sit there and pick it apart as to why it may or may not be authentic. We’re the ones in the back of the theater annoyingly whispering, “Awe, a horse wouldn’t do that.” or “That guy can’t ride.”

Horse lovers enjoy getting together and talking about their favorite trails, or an exciting day following the hounds. They share trailering tips, talk about how their horse did at the last show or the new saddle they tried.

Horse nerds will get together and analyze every jump in their round at the last show or share their favorite chapter in Gerd Heuschmann’s “Collection or Contortion.” We talk about how this is what’s happening to dressage riding, or the hunter ring, or show jumping or Western riding.

I have a friend, Kelly Snyder, who is an equine structural integrationist. She calls me up at least once a week to share the latest she’s read about horse fascia, lateral lines or how the rider’s hands can so easily affect the horse’s hyoid bone.

We talk for a while about how some current riding trends are damaging horses’ muscles or connective tissue. Then we get into a discussion about how if riders would allow their horses’ to move this way or that way, the horse would stay sounder longer, move better or be more willing to move forward, jump, bend, etc.

It’s easy to spot the horse nerds. We’re the ones in the corner talking about things that make no sense to anyone else. If you try to listen in, you can hear the passion — or maybe it’s obsession — in our voices. You can hear us defending ideas and talking over different theories about riding.

Horse nerds are similar to all other nerds across the world.

We care passionately about our selected topic. We are fascinated by the reasons why and how things work or don’t work, and want to understand horses in depth.

We can’t get enough about horses. We admire their beauty and spirit, and want to understand how that magic can inspire so many.

If you are caught up in the small things, if you can entertain yourself for hours dissecting minutia of how horses move, a rider’s position, saddle fitting, bits or millennia other aspects of working with horses, you might be a horse nerd.

If, when you get around other horse nerds, you talk about the “old days” and how they used to ride, if you know all kinds of trivia that even dedicated horse lovers would not care to learn — you might be a horse nerd.

Don’t worry. If this does cause you to be isolated at parties and you see people looking a little sideways in your direction, there will be other nerds you can hang with. There are a lot of us — especially in the Foothills. We try to keep our heads down, but when we recognize one another, others tend to simply roll their eyes and give us space.

They sagely nod to each other — after all, we can’t really help it — it’s a nerd thing.