Disclaimer: This post is only tangentially related to horses. However, it is very related to horse people. Also, cursing lies ahead.
Last week I watched one of my friends fall off her horse and, in a freak accident, fall just right (or rather, just wrong) to break six bones in her ankle and leg. Friend was riding around and her mare had done a few perfect lead changes so she thought she’d ask for one more. Mare trips, recovers, changes leads, kicks out, starts porpoising, and as said friend was already unbalanced from the trip it was, unfortunately, not meant to be. Trust me, I’ve seen her sit way worse. Anyway, I immediately headed over to her (as her horse had been contained) and friend was like “yeah, it’s not good, it hurts. My ankle might be broken.” And then quietly sat like a champ and talked to her mom and shockingly calm husband for like 20 minutes while the ambulance arrived. No tears. No water works. No screaming. She broke six motherfucking bones and I have made a bigger deal over bad dressage tests.
This weekend our assistant trainer had a horse jump on her foot and then she rode in a clinic before going home to put ice on it. Not broken bones, but a nice, crushing soft tissue injury that she rode through with four Advil and pure determination driving her.
Equestrians. We are fucking tough.
So you can understand why I’m a little…confused…when I hear the term “man up” or “sack up” thrown around. Especially at the barn. What man around here is breaking six bones in his leg and brushing it off like a sprained ankle? What man in my life gets thrown into a pile of wood twice in forty five minutes, gets back up to try it again, and does it again the next four days for good measure? What man do I know with a titanium plate in his collarbone because a horse tripped and somersaulted over him? What man is disciplining three 1000 pound animals at once and reminding them who is herd boss by sheer force of will?
I don’t personally know any men doing these things.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think men are great. I love my boyfriend – he reaches tall things, cooks for me, helps me lift up heavy things, and takes good video. But give the guy a little rhinovirus and he’s laid up in bed for a week. (They call it man-flu for a reason.) That little joke aside, the point of this post is not to mock men or devalue them or make them seem less than women in any way. I know there are many talented male equestrians – riders, farriers, barn managers, and the rest – that should be respected, but in the vast majority of barns, women rule.
Instead, I think we should consider changing the way we talk to emphasize and value women more than we currently do.
So why do we tell people to man up when, for equestrians, many of our icons of strength and determination are women? Perhaps we should change our vernacular a little? I believe in the value of words, and maybe, just maybe, if we make the way we speak more appreciative of women in general, young women will also come to appreciate themselves more.
To this end, I propose that every time you find yourself inclined to reach for the term “man up” you instead use “woman up” or “ovary up”. After all, the vagina, uterus, and ovaries are certainly physically stronger than the average male anatomy. Dan Savage has a great way of putting this, which goes something like “Balls are not strong. They are weak – kick them and they incapacitate their owner with pain. Vaginas are strong. Vaginas take in sperm and SPIT OUT BABIES. Respect the vagina”.
But I don’t want to go around yelling “vagina up” in the general public or at horse shows. And “uterus up” sounds weird. So I’m going with “woman” or “ovary” instead.
OH WAIT. I just had a genius idea. Perhaps “MARE UP”? Ehhh? I know a LOT of mares more determined than any man I know. Ah yes, I have arrived at the best one of all: boss mare up. Boss Mare Up, ladies!
Thus I invite you all to #bossmareup and join me!!
(And for getting to the end of my nuttiness, I reward you with an image of Murray and Connor making out.)