What it’s like To Be a “Horsegirl” in School

Emily McNeill, admitted "horsegirl" and Athena. Photo courtesy of Joe McNeill

BY INTERN EMILY MCNEILL

While watching a movie in history class, a calvary stampedes onto screen. Immediately, your classmates swivel towards you. In the midst of completing punnett squares in biology, a question regarding horse genetics appears, and your peers giggle your name.  A math problem briefly mentions a horse- suddenly you’re called on to answer the question. That’s right, even your teachers know. Congratulations, you’re the honorary horse girl.

Although no one can truly pinpoint when the horse girl stereotype started, there are countless memes and text posts that circulate Facebook and Instagram feeds. After all, according to the Internet, every school has at least one token horse girl. In my experience, it doesn’t take too long to become identified as one.

Whether my reputation began with endless horse posts on Instagram or my horseshoe necklaces, it was clear that my one defining trait to my classmates was that I was an equestrian. Secret Santa gifts (a horse calendar), nicknames (“horse”), and conversation topics (“how’s horse riding?”) were circulated around one thing: my sport.  There are even horse drawings next to my friend’s signatures in my yearbook.

One of my friend’s yearbook signatures – note the “horsegirl” nickname. Photo courtesy of Emily McNeill

Whenever anyone asked me what I did over the weekend, my answer was almost always that I was at a horse show, or training for one. Eventually, my friends came to learn that I spent most of my free time at the barn, and that I loved every second of it. Now, they always assume I’m riding if I’m too busy to hangout. Most of the time, they’re right.

Once I entered high school, I quickly came to the realization that as much as I love horseback-riding, non-equestrians can only listen to horse talk for so long. After explaining the difference between trotting and cantering for the third time, I knew the obsession over horseback riding could only understood by others who have it too. As much as I love to drone on about horses, the quick nods and fake smiles from my friends proved my horse talk was not that interesting.

A classic example of equine- themed jewelry. Photo courtesy of TPH intern Hatte Hamilton.

At first, that was pretty hard for me to learn since riding is one of my biggest passions. However, I understand that everyone has different interests, and I can’t expect my friends to always love the same things I do. Luckily, I now have a fellow “horsegirl” best friend who I can share my endless love for horses with.

Even so, I’m not ashamed of my reputation. I can confidently say I’ve taught all my classmates a thing or two about horses. From doing a persuasive speech about why horseback riding is a sport to coding a website for my equine photography, my love for horses has been demonstrated in many ways for my school to see. I mean, I’m sure all of us have worn breeches to school once or twice.

One of my favorite photos (that was posted on all of my social medias, of course) of Brandi, the horse I leased, and I. Photo courtesy of Joe McNeill

I still have a few more years to continue being recognized as my school’s token horsegirl. Even with the jokes, it’s a reputation I love to have. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance anyone reading this article has a little bit of horsegirl in them too. But no matter how many memes they make of us, it’s definitely a thing to be proud of.