Hold your horses girls! Before galloping off into the sunset, be sure you know what life with one is really like before you make that big commitment.
I had the pleasure of attending the premiere of Cavalia’s “Odysseo” show in Burbank not too long ago. If you haven’t been, picture Cirque du Soleil with beautiful horses on a stage the size of a hockey rink. The performers, horses and visual effects meld together into a romantic fantasy that reminded me of how, as a horse-crazy little girl (and boy-crazy too), I longed for a heroic steed of my very own.
Since I grew up in the city, I rarely saw horses in real life. I learned about them from books like Black Beauty, where the horse spoke directly to the reader, TV shows like Fury and movies like National Velvet, where the horses and their riders shared a loyal bond that never disappointed.
I begged my parents to buy me a horse because I was sure if I had one all my lonely days would be over. In my romantic fantasy, my horse and I would have the most amazing adventures together. We would surmount any obstacle, leap over evil villains and gallop into the sunset in the ultimate expression of love and beauty – just me and my horse – forever.
I finally got one as a reward for getting straight A’s in the ninth grade (a brilliant parental plan that kept me from becoming a do-nut shop waitress). I remember the anticipation of that school year and how, after doing my homework, I’d read oodles of books about the care and feeding of horses in anticipation of his arrival. Yep, I was going to be the best horse owner ever.
Then the horse arrived, along with the biggest surprise of my young life. You see, horses are not like the intuitive, emotional champions portrayed in children’s books, TV shows and movies. Not at all!
In real life, horses step on you (usually by accident but it still hurts) and they’re ruled by animal instinct, not intellect. They’re more interested in eating than bonding with you, and despite what they do in movies, they can’t read your mind. In fact, a horse would rather hang out with his horse friends than hang out with you, and if you make one mad, you’ll find yourself suddenly sitting on the side of the road while he trots back to the barn, oblivious to your despair.
I remembered all this as I watched Cavalia’s “Odysseo” and realized that horses and men have a lot in common, at least in terms of how we females perceive them. There’s the myth that starts with fairy tales and then, there’s the reality many of us discover once we’re married.
Now, that’s not to say you can’t have a wonderful, rewarding experience with a horse or a man. But there is a vast difference between enjoying a romantic fantasy and rolling up your sleeves and digging in to handle the tough parts of “ownership.” In the case of a horse, feeding, cleaning, taking care of them when they’re sick, training them, grooming them and learning how to handle them so you won’t get hurt – come to think of it, not so different from being a wife.
So before you spend a lot of time shopping around for one and constructing fantasies of the magical life you’ll have once you marry your dream man, be sure you have realistic expectations about what marriage is like once the violin music stops.
As for me, I still like horses (and men). In fact, I like them a lot. But frankly, I think it’s a lot more fun to take one out for a spin from time to time or, at best, do a short-term lease. Because when it comes to buying one, owning one, getting one — well, don’t do that unless you fully understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and can accept a horse, or a man for who and what they really are.
(Don’t miss Singular magazine’s article about Cavalia’s Odysseo, including photos and a video montage from the show.)
Copyright © Kim Calvert / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.