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Life with Horses is Never Orderly


Review by Nancy Brannon

Robert Burns’ poem “To A Mouse” might as well have been intended for a horse, when he wrote “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley…” which we often translate to “oft go awry.” That’s pretty much the theme in Morgane Schmidt’s book Life with Horses is Never Orderly: Cartoons for Riders Who Are In on the Joke.

If there are two things that equestrians and horse owners have learned over time it’s, one, that horses will often upset our “best laid plans” with plans of their own and, two, to laugh at these situations. Schmidt certainly understands the crazy times of life with horses, having owned and competed horses in eventing and dressage for years. And she certainly knows how to bring humor to the most maddening and frustrating situations.

She has been a lifelong fan of Thelwell cartoons and began her own comic series in 2011, illustrating her funny reflections on life with horses. Ten years later, she has turned her witty observations into a book-length collection of cartoon characters that every horse owner will find something to laugh about. So, bring more humor into your life as you peruse the topics herein: Horse Ownership, Good Barn-Keeping, Seasons Are Fun, Challenge Accepted, On the Road, ‘Tis the Season, If Horses Are from Heaven, Riders Vs. Normal Society, and Never Seen Before.

The book begins with Horses: the ultimate in character building, taking you through a variety of humorous situations that horse owners face every day. There’s a list of “Things I have worried about today as a horse owner” to “Books I could write as an equestrian,” such as Money In, Manure Out, a novel and Broke, Broken and Bedraggled. The illustration of the horse trailer looking like a giant beast’s open mouth with tongue as a ramp is right on target from a horse’s point of view for not wanting to load. And famous last words: “This horse is bombproof! Beginners ride this horse. My grandma rides this horse!” is illustrated with a pony bucking and a child flying through the air. “How to Read Horse Sale Ads”
begins with the usual sale text and translates that into what it really means. “Is sensitive to his surroundings” translates to “he spooks at everything.” “Always in the ribbons” translates to “ mostly pink and green in shows with no more than 5 or 6 in the class.” “Free horse” is illustrated as a “bottomless money pit.” There’s also an equine vocabulary, as defined by horses themselves. Throughout the book, people are characterized as “small predators, aka staff.” And, of course, social media followers will want to read “If Equestrians were Honest with their Facebook Posts.”

Good Barn-keeping takes you through the daily routines at the barn, where shoveling manure is a major part of the day, illustrated by “The Top 5 Most Annoying Moments when Cleaning Stalls.” Of course, the most annoying is when you accidently slam the pitchfork into the stall door or a wayward stall mat, which flings the carefully collected manure everywhere.

My favorite in this chapter is “If Your Horse had a Planner.” Every day’s routine includes a “catered breakfast, maid service, ‘noonsies,’ catered dinner, and night snack,” with various special events throughout the week. Monday is body work; Tuesday is acupuncture; Wednesday is pedicure with the farrier; Thursday is spa day; Friday is chiropractor and massage.

“Puddles 101” illustrates how horses leap over mud puddles on the way to turnout, but then roll in the mud puddle after being turned out. This goes well with “where would your horse choose to roll?”

In Seasons are Fun, my favorite cartoon is “when your horse has a sense of humor” that depicts a tiny “snow man” made of manure balls. “Snow” compares how non-horse people see it and how horse people see it. And then there’s “reason #17 why equestrians winter in Florida.”

Challenge Accepted explains why training isn’t for the faint of heart. “If my horse was aware that social distancing was a thing” is illustrated by the horse avoiding being haltered. “Different Perspectives” contrasts “what you see” with “what your horse sees.” Read this to understand why horses spook.

Another funny illustration is using the tractor and front-end loader to push the horse into the horse trailer. “I thought you were into Natural Horsemanship” the horse thinks. Equine Yoga provides proof that your horse can bend when he wants to (imagine Fergus reaching under the fence for a juicy blade of grass).

On the Road explores traveling with horses. Did you know that horses who ride together in the trailer for 15 minutes are married for life? Don’t miss the “checklists: horse show edition” for how to prepare for a horse show. Braiding? Another exercise in futility.

Other funny ones are the “Dressage Pit Crew” and “Today’s Spook is brought to you by – the Letter A.” Then there’s deciphering your dressage test, where most of the squiggles in the “remarks” section make no sense.

In Tis the Season, check out “A Pony’s Christmas List,” which begins with “Horse treats.” Valentine’s Date Night Tip#12 says: “No matter how cute he says you look in breeches and boots and no matter how unnatural it is for you, you should leave enough time to shower and change into normal people clothes before going out on a date.”

In the chapter If  Horses Are From Heaven, you’ve probably seen “The Many Faces of Mare,” all nine of which are the same irritated, ears back look regardless of whether she’s happy, bored, playful, hungry, stressed, or whatever.

“Time for Pony Camp” shows a horse talking to a pony covered with paintings of hearts, rainbows, flowers, and hand prints. Pony says, “The next person that touches me is losing a finger.”

In Riders vs. Normal Society, read “Lies I tell myself, equestrian version.” Barn Cars shows all the stuff that’s crammed into the back of an equestrian’s SUV.

In Never Seen Before, “horses can be summed up simply as: It as all going so well – until it wasn’t” as that plastic bag flies by. Solving Rubik’s Cube? Child’s play compared to reassembling your bridle. Untangling polo wraps from the wash is something we’ve all tried to do and requires the skill level of an expert problem solver. Finally, “My Horse’s Motto: There’s never a bad time for snacks” as the horse eats the greenery in the box by Dressage letter C.

No doubt, you’ll find more than one thing you’ve experienced with your horse illustrated here for you to get a good laugh! It’s always good to bring humor into your life with horses; helps you cope with the frustrating and unexpected. Find out more, download a sample chapter, and watch a preview video at:

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