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Melanie laCour

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Best of HN: Am I a Bad Horse Mom?

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As we enter this year’s holiday movie season, there’s one new release that caught my attention. The comedy A Bad Mom’s Christmas in particular got me thinking: are there Bad Horse Moms and am I one of them?

Having seen the original Bad Moms movie that is the basis for this holiday-themed sequel, I feel like the “bad moms” mentality definitely applies to the horse world. And to be very clear to those who have not seen the film, the adjective “bad” in the titular “bad moms” does not adhere to the dictionary definition of the word: that is to say “bad” in this context is not used to mean evil, wicked, depraved, awful or rotten, but is rather a term assigned by the main characters to mean those ladies who consciously refuse to beat themselves up attempting to adhere to currently prevailing standards of parenthood which they deem to be unrealistic. Essentially they take the word originally intended as an insult and make it something worth aspiring to.

In the first Bad Moms movie, after a particularly rough day involving her job and the many obligations that come along with raising children, protagonist Amy stops at a bar to have a cocktail and runs into two other tired, overburdened moms. Together they drink and vent and prop each other up, making such declarations as:

“Do you know what I hate? There’s so many f@#$*&$g rules.”

Collectively they decide to rise up in protest of the currently prevailing norms that bring unwanted and unnecessary stress to their already busy lives — things like perfectly-packed healthy organic lunches and overfilled extracurricular schedules. They emphatically declare “screw it, let’s be bad moms!” and clink glasses in a toast “to bad moms!” (And then proceed to drunkenly trash a grocery store.)

When it comes to the horse world, there are of course the equivalents of Christina Applegate’s character Gwendolyn: the wealthy, bespoke, impeccably coiffed, shiny Range Rover driving, organic muffin baking, perfectly scheduled horsepeople with immaculate tack, barns, horses and ensembles and a lot of help maintaining it all. And that is awesome — you go, guys.

However, sometimes there really are too many rules. Which leads me to my point: there is definitely something to be said about doing things the “bad moms” way. That is, tackling your horse life by doing what you want to do the way you want to do it, realizing that horses aren’t as fragile as you think and that in the end all that matters is that you and your horse are healthy and happy, if a bit disheveled.

So here is my salute to the “bad moms” of the horse world, a group to which after mere seconds of introspection I realize I absolutely belong — except instead of peeling around suburban streets in a cherry red vintage Dodge Challenger with my kids in tow, I am tearing around the fields on a yellow ATV trying to herd my ungrateful horses up to the barn where my dogs are feasting on their manure.

A TOAST:

Here’s to: 24/7 turnout rain or shine (or blizzard), to horses naked as jaybirds and barefoot as trailer park housewives, to one-ton round bales, tack held together by dirt and saddles with sweat stains, missing keepers, grimy feed buckets and un-swept barn aisles, to full time jobs, doing it all yourself and wanting to get the most out of your time, stinky breeches with holes where the sun don’t shine, half chaps that don’t stay zipped, boots that are starting to crack, un-tucked shirts and unkempt hair, tank tops, home remedies, mud coated horses left muddy save for a small area on which to perch a saddle and girth because ain’t nobody got time for that, to single-strand electric wire fences, farmer’s tans, saddle pads turned an unidentifiable murky gray color, bridle paths … JK yeah right, cockleburr tails, whiskered faces, furry old man ears, dreadlock manes and prehistoric wooly mammoth winter coats.

Here’s to: having my horses in my backyard, seeing them fat and happy off acres of un-mowed pasture, to being in the saddle in the sun after a long day at work, to stock trailers, rough trails, camping and 20 mile backcountry rides, to beers with friends after a long day on the trail (and sometimes while still on the trail…), to converting your husband into a full-fledged horse person, getting lost on horseback with said husband in the dark, in the woods and to surviving the aforementioned, to the little jump course he built you from scratch and the little jump field you created in your front yard, to galloping the prairie on a Thoroughbred you retrained, to yellow quarter horses with the dimensions of loveseats, to making friends and accepting that not everyone does things the way you do and to learning new things and to making the most of your free time.

Listen, I’m not saying be negligent: certainly, care for your horses as is necessary for them to remain healthy. And I’m not saying that if you clean your tack every day that you don’t have fun — even Gwendolyn joined up with the bad moms in the end. I just want to give a shout out to my fellow bad horse moms who know how to keep it real.

TO BAD HORSE MOMS!

Melanie laCour lives on the prairie with her husband and multiple equine and canine charges. After training in hunter/jumpers since childhood, she has now added a western saddle and frequent trail riding to the mix.