I’d like to think I have a good sense of humour. I will happily be the first person to poke fun at myself (my nickname among some friends is Bridget, as in Bridget Jones because of my accident-prone, dating-disaster lifestyle) but one thing guaranteed to rile me beyond all else is calling me a “horsey girl”.
A few weeks ago, at a dinner party, a girl I hadn’t met before said I was “definitely a horsey girl” because I had worked at an equestrian magazine and used to own a four-legged friend. Our definitions of the term “horsey” are slightly different, I countered, as I throttled the urge to shove her face-first into her baked apple.
The term “horsey girl” conjures, for me, visions of the type of female (barely girl) you see wearing jodhpurs in the supermarket. Theirs cars, which sport an old “please slow down for horses” sticker, are filthy and full of bits of tack, hay and pony nuts.
Like their own appearance, these vehicles play second fiddle to the horse. Their conversation, even at dinner parties — if you’ve got them to leave said horse, which is sometimes hard — is about where the next dressage competition is and who at the livery yard has most recently upset them.
As “horsey girls” age, they start to morph into their horse, spending less time and effort on themselves and more on their horse. They cease to wear make-up and (sorry, I’m aware this will insult a few people!) their thighs and bottom might spread a little more each year. Go the gym? They don’t have time — that, like their money, is spent on the horse.
I might have worked for a leading equestrian magazine, but I’ve never particularly warmed to people who embrace “horseiness”. As a child I grew up with horses at home on our farm and I adored my own horse, but I also enjoying leaving him in the stable at the end of the day and get togged up and go out.
I’m not sure many of my friends even knew I had a horse. I am known for putting jodhpurs on just before I ride and peeling myself out of them before I even start untacking. I’m not embarrassed about riding, or my love for horses (I do love them), but I would be embarrassed about smelling of horses, finding straw in my socks and catching people yawn when I tell them how I was bucked off.
I now make my living as a travel journalist, and was at said dinner party, resisting the urge to flick peas at my table neighbour, having just returned from skiing in South Korea. She simply wanted to poke fun at me. Perhaps I take it too seriously — but please, no one call me horsey. It’s the ultimate put-down.