Horse craziness is a disease that affects the mind. But don't tell a horseperson that. Most horsepeople reject the notion that their passion for horses is a mental illness. Some are offended by the idea. But I don't mean it that way. The victims of horse disease aren't insane - they just drive everyone around them nuts.
The Course of the Disease
The typical horsegirl goes through several phases prior to full-blown horse disease. The first is the Infant Phase. At this stage, the girl doesn't say much about it. This is because she is an infant and hasn't learned how to talk. These are relatively peaceful years for the parent.
By the time the child is able to walk – she won't. She will want to ride everywhere and on everything. Anything that moves will be a target: her big wheel, her brother's wagon, the vacuum cleaner, Dad's shoulders, Uncle Jim's foot. The cat.
Some parents believe that a child's fascination with penny-a-ride supermarket horses and merry-go-rounds is an early indication of horse disease. This is a fallacy. These activities are far too inexpensive to be considered remotely related to horse disease. On the other hand, if the kid demanded that you buy the penny-a-ride supermarket horse and haul it home in the back of the minivan, then it would be a genuine sign of horse disease.
The Infant Phase is followed by the Learning Phase. This is when you send your child to school to learn. The first thing she learns is that there is a girl in her school WHO ALREADY HAS A HORSE. Your girl will hate this girl. She will hate her with a bloody passion that defies description. But instead of being mean to Already-Has-A-Horse Girl, your daughter will suck up to her. She'll do anything she can to ride that horse.
Your daughter's association with Little Miss Suzy Hasahorse introduces her to the tangible reality of horse ownership. Before this, owning a horse was merely a distant dream, a faraway fantasy. But once she witnesses the phenomenon first hand, the parental idea of nipping it in the bud becomes the fantasy. Now that she has seen it with her own eyes, there is no going back; the genie has been released from the bottle, the apple has been eaten, the Rubicon has been crossed, and the snowball is in Hell.
By the time the girl is ten or eleven, the disease becomes fully active. This is known as the Military Phase. Now she is prepared to launch a brutal campaign of emotional and psychological terror upon her parents. Military historians would classify this level of conflict as "total war." A no-holds-barred contest. She will bombard you with unending requests for horse magazines, videos, and trips to the local riding stable. She will form get-the-poor-kid-a-horse alliances with friends and relatives who have no financial stake in the matter. She will blitz your defenses with pouts and tears and lethal looks. She will wear down your resistance by holding fake horse shows in the front yard using brooms and empty milk bottles. She will give her bike a name.
After a few months of this, parents of horse-diseased daughters will find themselves rummaging through the house for any type of white material. They need it for the flag. It takes a little time, but most parents eventually come to the conclusion that surrendering is the only way to peace. The surrender ceremony consists of the parent signing the Document of Capitulation (a check to a horse seller) while the victorious girl observes from her vantage point atop her brand new horse. "I need a better saddle," she announces.
With her new horse, the girl becomes an active participant in the horsepeople culture. Prepare yourself: she is going to develop some new personality traits. These traits are common to this subculture and they will be with her for the rest of her life. Coping with all of this requires patience, understanding, love, and a revolving credit account.
In order to understand the horsepeople culture, you must accept one simple truth: horsepeople are not like the rest of us. They may look like we do. They may occasionally talk like we do. They may even attempt to act like we do. But sooner or later, it will become abundantly clear that they are nothing like us. And they like it that way.
Once you accept the fact that horsepeople are inherently different, things will start to make sense. You will begin to understand that your horsegirl's bizarre behavior patterns and oddball habits are merely the accepted norms and practices of a distinct sub-culture. In other words, they're all a bit peculiar.
Living with a horsegirl (or horsewoman), (or horseboy), (or horseman), (or horseundecided) puts you in direct contact with this alien culture. Living next to them isn't all that easy either. This has nothing to do with race or religion or ethnic background or sexual preference (some like mares, some like geldings, and others prefer stallions). Also, horsepeople culture cuts across all socioeconomic classes. Be aware that while horse ownership is a traditional mark of wealth and status, it's also really good at creating poverty.