English is a quirky language. There are a large number of “rules”, most of which have more exceptions that the New York State tax code. Horse people come from a wide variety of backgrounds and like most specialized hobbies, horse talk is has a vernacular all its own. We have some made up words like “cribber”. That is a hysterical one to try and translate into Spanish. So far I have not found someone that can give me a short translation of that, so if you are at the track with a Spanish speaking groom you end up reading a note card that has you asking the individual if the horse “bites and sucks on the wall”. Of course, I could be saying anything for all I know. Regardless, it gets a perplexed reaction.
German is a far more direct language for horse terms, but in English they take about three sentences to explain. “Schwung” is pretty easy (loosely translates to “swinging through the back”) but it is also a nice way to test if someone was a teenager in the ’90’s since they will quote lines from a “Wayne’s World” movie or at least start singing.
One of my all time favorites is from my forays into the world of selling horses for others. Invariably someone will come to see a horse or call and ask “does it ride good”. I realize that salesmanship and the potential commission should override my desire to be a smart alec, but not so far. I invariably answer with “I have no idea, normally I do the riding”. People from a sport or English discipline normally laugh or rephrase the question. Western people seem to either not understand what I am saying or I get the hairy eyeball. I will let you draw your own conclusions on that.
My other personal favorite is the verb “to buck”. Some of my most respected friends (or former friends once they read this) have a hard time with this one. I would say “the horse started bucking”, “the horse bucked me off (see a previous post on Whitman)” or even the “horse is a known bucker or has a bucking problem”. I have had several people turn a phrase along the lines of “he bucked me”. or ask ‘is he bucking me” I let it go a time or two before I just couldn’t take it any longer. I finally pointed out “just so you know, the verb “to buck” is no where near as flexible as the “f-word” but you keep using it the same way”. That normally gets some owl like blinking directed at me and solves the problem.
Editors note: I realize my own speech habits and patterns are far from perfect, but I am comfortable with being a hypocrite. However, if you want a good laugh – listen to what I say to “Siri” and what “Siri” believes I have said. Karma is a mother.