When I was younger, there was a click, a horse click. These are girls who LOVE horses so much that they join riding clubs, have all the horse posters, and learn to ride and rodeo at young ages. They wear tight, tight cowboy jeans, with sparkly belts and cowboy boots. They were skinny and strong, so the boys never made fun of them. We all just called them horse girls.
I wasn’t one of those girls. The key to being one of those girls is the ability to own your own horse, take care of it, and ride it whenever. I was a town kid. My only experience with a horse up close was when we were visiting my father’s step-sister, a horse girl, and I was feeding the horse and he bit me. HARD. I was bleeding, no need for stitches, but scary for an 8 year-old-kid. Needless to say, I wasn’t even friends with the horse girls because I was terrified of their best friends.
Horse racing is different. I’ll admit, when we went in Fargo the first time, I thought, yay, let’s go watch the red-necks. I expected people without shirts on, guzzling beer, barefoot, and chewing tobacco while the horses ran. It’s not like that. It’s also not horse abuse; as far as I’m concerned either. The reason why I think that it isn’t abuse is that these horses are loved. Truly LOVED. One night at Fargo, one of the horses was injured, a woman from the stands sprinted out to her horse, just like a mom at football game when her son doesn’t get up. The horse was fine, but I realized then, these horses must run. They are only happy when they run. Without allowing them to do so, that would be a form of abuse.
Going to a horse race is amazing people watching because you get people dressed to the nines all the way down to those described above. I love to watch people watch the races and the horses. The horses are beautiful animals, with strong, talented jockeys atop them. Riding horses isn’t cheap. Taking care of and owning horses aren’t cheap. Loving horses: that’s free.
When the horses get ready to be loaded into the gate and after the race, they are accompanied by other horses who I call their friends. Each horse has their own friend to keep them calm and give them company. Here’s where the horse girls come in. The majority of the riders of the horse friends are women. These beautiful, strong women ride atop the friend horses and take care of the racers. They are ignored and overlooked, but I see them. I see the 6th grade girl deep within doing exactly what they love to do.
If you do go to the horse races, watch how loved these animals truly are and watch the faces of the horse girls in the crowd, wishing and hoping to ride the rest of their lives. It’s worth the entire trip.