It’s hard to hide a horseman. Or a cowboy, rancher, trainer or any equine enthusiast, for that matter.

feeding horse
Photo by Katie Frank

I’ve spoke of the subject before, but it never ceases to amaze me how Western-type folks stick out like a sore thumb when they try to blend in. Sure, there’s the obvious sound of spurs when they walk, or the stock trailer in the parking lot. But even under cover, when you know what to look for, there’s often a telltale sign—the name of a stallion on a ball cap, a certain brand of footwear, or a silver buckle from years ago that will give away a true identity time and again.

There’s a camaraderie, though, among those who jingle when they walk. I’ve always heard that it’s a small world and I’m starting to believe it’s true. There are more social spiderwebs and fun connections in the horse community than I ever would have dreamed to be true. Sure, it means sometimes you have to dodge an ex (or his new girlfriend) in the alleyway of a show or rodeo. But it also means that there is a whole network of helpful and wonderful people that share a love of animals and a lifestyle that is all-consuming.

Some of us are more casual in our horse ownership than others. Shake out a little hay, check the water, make sure nothing is tangled in wire and move on. Others may prefer a more elaborate approach—one with eight different supplements twice a day, followed up by a quick grooming, hoof-picking and detangling of mane knots. Some of us make a living with horses, others are serious non-professionals, and a few are occasional saddle-goers. But we are all involved and willing to take care of the animals who take care of us, whether it’s financially, physically or emotionally.

There are those who crave the limelight. They’ve got collections of buckles and paychecks and short-go stories that are continuously being added to. Some make a living from horses, whether it’s veterinary, training, farrier-work or managing a facility. And others are just happy to be in the presence of their animals, with an occasional ride down the trail, or an evening in the barn making sure all is well.

Sure, like anywhere else, there are the weasels, shysters and smooth-talkers who will sell an unassuming person the wrong horse. There are folks who will take advantage of others and some who just flat-out don’t do a great job of caring about their horses and cattle. But overall? I’ve found that our cowboy-type community is a warm, welcoming, helpful and incredible place in which to be involved.

And it’s true, sometimes, under the dusted layers on our faces and under our brimmed hats, we tend to look a little weary from time to time. We sacrifice luxurious, carefree vacations because we fear a colic crisis. We hassle with town trips, haphazardly parking our heavy, muddy pickups instead of zipping perfectly between lot lines in our sporty, shiny coupes (because we all know that convertible won’t haul a trailer!) And don’t even get me started on the ratio of bank account balances to silver bits and spurs hanging in the tack room (I won’t even mention the custom saddles).

See, at the end of the day, we are all here because there’s something about the horse that brings goodness into our lives. We all share a common thread, which is the incredible equine. Sure, we might be quirky, smell a little funny, and have a hard time committing to events that don’t have something to do with our small little cowboy world. And yes, we stick out like a sore thumb.

 But on the flip side, you can be assured that we are all very (ahem) stable people. 

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