The featured photo was taken in September 1988, right after my beloved Appaloosa pony, Rusty (Diamonds n’ Rust) and I won first place at the State 4H horse show in Richmond, Virginia. There were about seventy other ponies in that class. It was a great morning and a highly unexpected surprise to win first. Rusty bucked, but I guess the judge never saw it happen.
If you follow my blog, you probably know that I have a tendency to overshare sometimes. I often feel compelled to share the whole story, even if it’s not necessarily interesting or wise to do so. We all have lessons we could learn. I know I could use a few lessons in brevity. However, even someone who overshares, like I tend to do sometimes, can be surprised by other people’s expectations on social media platforms.
Before I get started, I will issue a half-hearted apology for the fact that my writing this week has been so much about stupid Facebook dramas. The good news is, I’m so annoyed by the responses I’ve gotten on recent comments I’ve made, that I now make a conscious effort to comment less. That could mean that I’ll move on to more hard-hitting or entertaining topics. One can only hope!
Anyway… on with today’s gripe.
A couple of days ago, Facebook suggested either a group or a page about Elizabeth Taylor. I honestly don’t know why it was suggested to me. I was never a big Liz Taylor fan. I mean, I certainly thought she was a beautiful woman, and as a horse crazy kid, I appreciated her performance in National Velvet. I do remember seeing her guest star on The Nanny, and I saw her in commercials for her perfumes and such, but I don’t know much about her acting career.
Liz Taylor was a little behind my era, and had done a lot of her most famous acting roles before I was born. I wasn’t into most old movies when I was growing up, aside from the major ones like Gone With The Wind, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. When I was coming along, I heard more about her marriages, alcoholism, and celebrity activism, than anything else.
I think I was more familiar with her son, Michael Wilding Jr.’s, work as an actor. He was on Guiding Light and Dallas, back in the 80s, and I watched both of those shows.
Anyway, for some reason, Facebook suggested this Elizabeth Taylor page to me, along with a post about her love for horses. There was a picture of her, as an adolescent, with a horse– probably the one who starred with her in National Velvet. And there was a quote by her about how she’d learned to jump before making the movie, and had successfully jumped a six foot fence while riding bareback. She allegedly said it made her feel like she was flying.
As someone who literally spent a huge portion of my childhood in a barn, I find that story pretty hard to believe. Is it the truth? Maybe… but I still find it implausible. Not that many horses regularly jump six foot fences. Those that do tend to be very valuable jumpers. And, in all of my years around horses, I’ve never seen nor heard of anyone jumping at that height bareback… at least not on purpose! Could it have happened? I suppose. But I noticed a lot of people agreed with me that the story sounded a bit like bullshit. They were saying so in the comment section.
I added a casual comment to someone’s response, reminding everyone that National Velvet was made in 1944. So if she did try to jump six feet while bareback, it likely would have been extremely dangerous and foolish. She probably didn’t bother wearing a hat (helmet), and even if she did wear one, it was not as safe or effective as the ones that people wear today. If she tried such a stunt and was successful, she was damned lucky… and pretty stupid, in my opinion. But again… it’s just my opinion, and I realize I could be wrong.
When I left this comment, I was being totally casual. It was an offhand remark– the online equivalent of small talk. This is a very trivial issue to me, and not something I care to research or verify. Mainly, I was just gratified to see that I wasn’t the only one who was calling bullshit on the story’s veracity.
Naturally, people started tagging me in responses, reminding me that Liz Taylor allegedly started riding when she was three years old, so she wasn’t a “new” rider, as I wrongly assumed, based on what was written in the quote.
Again, Liz Taylor doesn’t really matter to me, so I didn’t look her up to see when her ass first landed on a horse’s back. If she really started riding at age 3, fair enough… although I doubt she was progressing that much in her skills at that age. I wouldn’t expect her to be good enough to be piloting talented jumpers over six foot fences, even if she did start riding at age 3. Certainly not bareback. That’s sheer lunacy to me. My opinion again. It was not something I really wanted to argue about. If it’s true, it’s true. I don’t really care one way or the other.
The evening wore on, and Bill and I went to bed. I spent all day blissfully unaware of that post and, in fact, had completely forgotten about it. Then, at about 5 PM, I got a tag from someone I didn’t know. Not knowing what she was referencing, I clicked to see what was up. And it was some twat who wrote something along the lines of, “Have you ever even been on a horse? Do you know *anything* about horses?” Then there was a long diatribe about how Liz Taylor certainly could have been jumping six foot fences bareback, and a link to some site that I didn’t bother checking. To tell you the truth, I didn’t read beyond her first two sentences, because I found them extremely insulting and irritating, and I was momentarily really pissed.
You see, I spent years riding horses. I owned a very special Appaloosa pony for years. I took lessons, cleaned stalls, went to horse shows, showed hunt seat and Western, went on competitive trail rides, attended riding clinics given by fancy Frenchmen, fox hunted, completed 4 H horse projects, and I have a huge box full of over 200 ribbons, plaques, medals and such in storage in Texas. I even won a horse blanket one year. So yes, I do know my way around a horse, even though I gave up riding a long time ago.
Maybe I should have responded to the idiot with just a picture of my ribbons…
I realize this person doesn’t know me at all. I don’t know her at all. My guess, though, is that I was probably riding horses and shoveling manure when she was still a spark in her daddy’s testicles. I also suspect, like a lot of Facebook experts, she moseyed on over to my Facebook page to see if there was any evidence of my “expertise” with horses. When she saw no equine pics on the public version of my account, she wrongly assumed that I don’t have any experience with horses, hence her moronic challenging questions to me– a total stranger.
I was tempted to respond with indignance, but instead, I took a deep breath, and then sighed with a loud groan of utter annoyance. Then I posted something along the lines of this:
Yes, I have experience with horses. I grew up riding and showing my own horse. I still don’t believe this story. If you do, good for you. I really don’t care.
Then, just because I had a feeling it would inspire laughter from those who knew me when I was young, I posted this:
I was gratified when my former riding instructor wrote this…
A time or two?. Try more years than I care to think about!
I am honestly very indebted to my old riding instructor, because I certainly wasn’t the easiest person to teach… or even just to deal with, especially when I was going through puberty. And she was there to see me in all my moody, hormonal glory! Isn’t it awesome that I still know her as I’m now going through menopause! I’m not quite as moody these days… or, at least I cry less.
It’s because of her that I ever owned a horse of my very own. She taught me so much, and having unlimited access to her farm no doubt kept me out of trouble… and possibly even the psych ward. I had a tendency toward depression in those days (as well as today, but now I have booze).
The fact that I had a horse, and had to work to keep him, kept me productive and active, and helped stave off the darkest moods of depression. I spent hours riding my bike to and from her farm, cleaning the ten stalls in her barn, and doing the many horsey chores required when you have a horse. Even if you aren’t into showing, as I was in those days, there’s a lot of work to be done. I do miss it– and horses– very much. But I think the work might kill me these days. 😀
So yes, when some rando on Facebook asks me if I “know anything” about horses, simply because we disagree about a silly quote allegedly by Elizabeth Taylor– a dead actress I don’t even particularly care about– it does smart a bit. Was she really expecting me to post my horse experience resume on such a random comment between total strangers? Who’s got the time for it?
However, I was also gratified that my fellow horsey friend from those days, another of the many Jennifers born in the 70s, posted this in response to my peevish status update…
Ha! I was doubting that post from Liz too. I’ve never seen anyone do six feet bareback.
Jennifer and I were in 4 H together and enjoyed many a hot Saturday at horse shows when we were growing up in Gloucester, Virginia. She knows her way around horses, too. And anyone who knew me in those days, knows that horses were then my life. It’s almost hard to believe now. Seems like a dream.
I guess this incident can be filed away under yet another reason why Facebook sucks. But then, if it weren’t for Facebook, I couldn’t share a laugh with the people I knew when I was an avid horsewoman. It’s a testament to the specialness of that time that those people are still my friends so many years later.
Whether or not Liz Taylor ever jumped six foot fences while riding a horse bareback isn’t that important, at least not to me. She’s been dead for years, so it’s not like her feelings are going to be hurt if I don’t believe this alleged quote from her about her horseback riding skills. Maybe it is the truth, but I don’t feel like verifying it, one way or the other. Especially now.
Liz’s alleged quote kind of reminds me of that ghastly video of Alan Osmond, when he talked about how he was the best marksman in his Army basic training unit, yet he never saw a single day in Vietnam. Instead, he stayed behind at Fort Ord, where he served as a typist. Now, I absolutely respect Alan for serving in the Army, but I think his claims about his military badassery are probably hyperbolic bullshit. And this quote by Elizabeth Taylor is probably similarly hyperbolic. I base that on my experiences with horses, even as I acknowledge that I’m not an expert and I quit riding some time ago. I never claimed to be an expert. I just know what bullshit smells like.
So no, I don’t feel like qualifying myself with a rundown of my equine experience and expertise, just to be allowed to leave a comment on a random Facebook post about horses. I shouldn’t be expected to do that. I’ve got more important things to do, like manscaping Bill’s chest hair.
On another note… I notice that a lot of horse people really can be insufferable jerks. I don’t miss that.