What Does It Mean to be a Barn Girl?

What Does It Mean to be a Barn Girl? | SLO Horse News

I’ve been a self-proclaimed “barn girl” all my life.  I love the scent of dust and hay when I pull down the dusty path toward the big double doors.  My heart still leaps a little when I hear the familiar nicker and see my horse with her head hanging out of the stall door as I walk inside.  I don’t even mind the dirt that I’m covered with by the time that my day at the barn is through.  I don’t dress to impress when I head out to the barn, I dress to be practical…as my well-worn boots can attest.  I don’t fix my hair as I normally would, in fact, it’s usually tucked into a baseball cap – also well-worn.  This is the way it has always been, and the way it still is today.

Recently, though, I went out for an evening of music at a local restaurant and ran into a couple of people who only knew me as the “barn girl”.  They didn’t recognize me at first, with my hair done and make-up on; with fashionable and dust free clothes, and (gasp) high heeled shoes!  It took several moments before one of them came over and said “Wow, you look different!”.  He then followed that up by saying I look “amazing”, and that got me to wondering…do barn girl’s not look amazing, or do they just look amazing in a different way?

Barn Girl Stigma

Perusing Facebook the other day, I saw a post by someone who was asking horse people to “please have a little respect and not come to the grocery store dressed in your barn clothes”.  The argument was that it was both unsanitary and undignified to go into an establishment wearing clothes that were (forbid) dusty or had a faint scent of hay or horse.  This struck me as odd, because I quite often stop by the grocery store on the way home from the barn.

I always make sure that I wash my hands before leaving the barn, and if my boots are particularly dirty, I’ll give them a good spray down with the hose before I get into the car.  I suppose, though, to some people that see us barn girls (or boys) coming into the store with our practical clothing, it might seem as though we don’t care or that we aren’t sanitary.  I can tell you that my horse is probably the most sanitary and well cleaned creature on the planet – I have more show sheen, betadine, sprays, brushes, picks, scrubbers, etc., than I could ever possibly need.  I, myself, am also clean.  Sure, I may have some dirt stains on my jeans or some slobber stains on my t-shirt, but I also always make sure to dust myself off, wash my hands (and usually my arms and face) and make sure I’m not tracking anything with me as I walk.

Looking at me, and others like me, though, I wonder what non-horse people see?  It also makes me wonder what these people see when they look at a construction worker or farm laborer who decided to stop in to the local supermarket for a gallon of milk on his or her way home.  What is the solution?  Should anyone who is working around animals or dirt carry a change of clothes with them at all times so that they don’t offend the public?  And what about those people who go into grocery stores after a work-out at the gym…isn’t their sweat just as dirty?

I’ll Always Be a Barn Girl…and We’re Really Not That Bad

Some people like to cycle, some people like to hit the gym; other people like to go for a run, and me…I like to go to the barn.  I’m not going to dress up in something that impractical – I’m not getting rid of my baseball caps and my just broken in boots.  I’ll be clean and cautious when I leave the barn, as I always am, but I’m not going to allow my hobby to stop me from stopping at the grocery store to pick up dinner.  I’m also not bringing a duffle bag with slacks, blouse and heels to change into before I go into said grocery store.

I can be both the rough and tumble barn girl who likes the scent of dust and hay, and I can also be the girl who dresses up to go out to a concert or nice dinner.  We’re the same person, she and I…we just have different appearances, sometimes.

Cover Photo credit: Sarah Williams

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I have been an equestrian most of my life, having gotten my first pony at the age of 5, and 30 years later, I competitively exhibit my Half Arabian Reining horse on both the Arabian and NRHA circuits. There are three passions in my life, riding, photography and writing. Being able to combine all three of these things is a dream come true.

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