Ralph Lauren has certainly romanticized the horsey set. Thanks to Ralph, most Americans think that if horse owners are not out chasing foxes in the Hamptons, we're getting ready to hop on our polo ponies for some spirited fun before our appointment at the spa. Here's the truth: with a husband, a yearling son, two horses, a dog, a herd of cats, and a southern California acre, my life as a horsewife deviates slightly from that of the Laurens'.
Saturday, 8 AM: Pick up Joe's toys so he can spread them out again, feed the cats, dog, and horses (oh, and husband who fortunately loves cereal.) Notice there is almost no hay, pick up the dog poop that had been run through by the lawnmower because it has been too wet to do dog patrol with the storm last week, pick up the horse poop and bless herbivores. Back in the house, I fix Joe's bottles, empty the dishwasher and start on four loads of laundry and begin to shovel the week's worth of shopping out of the new truck. Notice that the brand new teakettle is broken and put it aside so I can return it in a long line at Target and try again. Start to clean out the old truck because Julie is borrowing it with the old trailer today to take her horse to a show tomorrow to try for the final high-point award, that is if Uncle Sam doesn't call her today and say she has to be on her air transport to points Mideast tonight (she's in the Air Force). Decide I better clean the old truck better because Julie is tidy and I notice it is full of cracker crumbs (Joe), dog hair (Jack), and French fries (me.) So I wheel Joe in his stroller back to the backyard to get the stiff little brush to remove all that, then notice I forgot to get the new water lillies for the everlasting pond project out of the back of the new truck, so I do that and take them to the back yard and trade them for the brush. Then I remember to look at Betty's bumps (the Paint mare with bad skin) that are some kind of allergic reaction that makes her swell up into nasty bumps that rupture and drip pus all over and cost $250 per episode to have the vet come and give me steroids (for the horse actually) and antihistamines.
Saturday, 10 AM: Joe goes for his nap, and I put away the rest of the stuff I shoveled out of the front of the trucks, then take the old truck around the corner to the camper shell place to get new shocks for the tonneau cover that won't stay up and is a 200-pound overhead weight that probably will kill Julie who then will not be able to save our nation. I ordered shocks three weeks ago but the other place never got them even though they charged my credit card so duh, I finally think of the guy around the corner who not only has them, but installs them and liberates just 60 bucks from my wallet. Then I head to the feed store but the street is completely torn up outside the RV place so I have to detour and finally make it to the feed store just as Joe should be waking up, which means Dad will have to face the lunch beast so now I am really in a hurry.
Saturday, 11 AM: I walk in the feed store and come face-to-face with our friend Perfect Dixie, who always looks like she just stepped out of a bandbox, and I am trying to remember if I brushed my hair or teeth today, and think not. But Dixie is wonderful, there in the feed store selling her new animal bedding product, and I have to tell her that our mutual horse trainer friend, Jimmy, just lost his wife when she ran off with the farrier last week. That all takes a while and we have to discuss Joe's first birthday party and I realize I forgot to send Dixie an invitation but I pretend it is lost in the mail. Then some guy with roosters comes over to talk with her about fowl bedding and I order my hay to be delivered but I have to take two bales with me because the horses are already on fumes, and I go out to get it loaded and drive on down the road, then realize I left my credit card inside, so drive back to get the card (the hay safely loaded under the now-functional tonneau cover). I meet Karen who runs the feed store, who wants to know where Joe is, then I remember to ask if I order two panels of livestock wire (to have welded on the fence by the arena so I can turn Betty out with Dusty and they can play but Betty won't be able to get her head through the pipes to reach the grass and rub her mane out) can I get it delivered with the rest of the hay (yes) so I have to go back inside to do that, but I leave the truck running, parked in the middle of the driveway because no one was around, but while I am inside getting the wire, picking up my credit card ($300 heavier) and saying goodbye to Dixie again, a bunch of people drive in and now I am clogging the driveway. I get away and drive home, but not on the freeway even though I am late because the hay sticks up and the tonneau cover, on its new 60-buck shocks, keeps boinging open and that seems like a bad idea at freeway speed.
Saturday, noon: I finally make it home and walk in the house and hear Joe hollering because Dad is absorbed in the computer and didn't hear him but Joe just woke up anyway when I came in the house. So I get him up, change his poopy diaper, and ask Mike if he can feed Joe while I try to get the hay unloaded and trailer hooked up before Julie gets here, and I annoy Mike because I demand the hand-truck to move the hay because the new horse trailer is blocking the driveway and I can't use the wheelbarrows to move the hay because they are both full of water and horse poop from the storm and I have to put on tall boots and take them to the dumpster and I don't have time and Mike has no idea where the hand-truck is, so I have to apologize to him for awhile, but then I find another old wheelbarrow that still has a good tire and get the hay out, and empty out the other stuff from the back of the old truck (mildewed baby bottle, two mildewed furniture moving blankets, Mike's hiking boots, set of PVC dog agility jumps, assorted trash, hay, and Christmas tree needles) and get that done and hook up the horse trailer and empty the two rolling caddies out of the tack compartment and walk in the house to hear Mike and Joe laughing and rolling around on the floor and I bend down to kiss them and tell them I love them, and the doorbell rings and it's Julie.
And then my afternoon begins.
Ralph, being a horsewife might not be the dreamy stuff of your ads, but I love it and wouldn't trade places with you for all the chintz in China.
© 2003 Suzanne Drnec
Writing or riding, Suzanne Drnec enjoys horses and their people. Drnec is president of Hobby Horse Clothing Company, a show apparel manufacturer, and also the caretaker of an assortment of lawn ornaments, currently three Paints. She'd like readers to know that the baby, husband, and horses are all doing fine. Comments? E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org