Anyone who spends time on the internet has seen the memes.
“All horse girls are now either on drugs, whores or Taylor Swift stans,” quoth Twitter user @jonofyfe.
all horse girls are now either on drugs, whores, or Taylor swift stans
— ً (@jonofyfe) September 7, 2018
Also from Twitter: “Horse girls were actually a pentagon experiment they were never meant to be released into society.”
“Horse Girl from High School a Cop Now,” reads a headline from satirical news site Reductress.
So-called “horse girls” – girls and women who like horses, who ride horses as a hobby or job – are a recent target of the internet’s ire. I love a good meme and I realize, for the most part, it’s all in good fun. But as a horse girl, I m a little bothered by the misconceptions about us.
I also see this as the latest example in a long list of women’s hobbies or interests that get mocked. Whether it’s a pumpkin spice latte or an Outlander marathon, things women tend to enjoy become punchlines in lazy jokes.
I recognize that I’m a cisgender White woman who holds a certain amount of privilege simply because I have the space to be concerned or offended about this.
I am literally a Becky.
Generally speaking, horse girls must be privileged in some way if they can afford the time and money it takes to participate in horseback riding. Lessons aren’t cheap and you need to buy special gear on top of that. But we can say that about almost any sport. The athlete or their parent must have the disposable income to enroll in a sport and buy the equipment necessary.
You buy cleats, I buy field boots. Give me a break.
On that note – yes, horseback riding is a sport. No, the horse does not “do all the work.” The bruises on the insides of my legs are proof of that. You have to learn how to subtly communicate with a horse by opening the reins, pressing your leg against its side and keeping your eyes up. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still end up on the ground if a horse trips, bucks or gets spooked.
You must learn how to problem solve while you’re on the back of a 1,000-pound animal. There’s a reason “rein it in” is a commonly-used idiom: even people who don’t ride horses know it’s referring to control. It takes work to gain that control.
Equestrians are taking a big risk when we choose to care for and participate in a sport with horses, however friendly and well-trained they are. Falling off such a large animal or being near one when it gets startled can lead to broken bones and a whole lot worse.
We also spend a great deal of time shovelling manure. But we participate anyway because we love it. That’s metal as fuck.
There are equestrians of all genders. There’s nothing girly or frivolous about horseback riding, but then again, there’s nothing wrong with being girly anyway. Let women enjoy things without making fun of them for it.