Friday, July 25, 2008

Where do my horses meet technology?



I've been away again, surrounded by the normal trappings of my "real" job in the technology industry and far away from the dirt and manure of my preferred job as horse owner. This time I was in Portland for my favorite O'Reilly conference, OSCON. We had fun photographing all the folks who came to show us their old O'Reilly t-shirts. There were some real classics in the bunch! The booth was comfortable and attendees, authors, and editors had a place to sit down and talk about everything from books to podcasting and video to Perl 6.

Surrounded by all this technology talk usually means that if horses come up at all, it's because I bring them up, but I decided not to this time and went a more passive route. We had ribbons on our badge holders that you could use to express what conference tracks you were interested in. Perl, PHP, Databases, etc., and while I'm interested in those things from a theoretical standpoint, I'm certainly not capable of holding a coherent conversation about coding with the experts that surrounded me. So I decided to make my own little ribbon that said "Horses" and let others start the conversation if they wanted to. Some people laughed and asked if I were serious, but a few people actually had horses, had horse stories, or just wanted to talk about horses for a minute or two in and amongst the technology buzz.

Swirling around me in the conference noise was a lot of talk about where technology intersects other interests--space, politics, parenting, you name it. For me, that "other interest" is obviously horses, and this blog is where those two things come together. I'm probably never going to be considered a leading technologist in my day job, but some of the comments I've gotten on this blog let me know that--as obscure as it is--it does provide insight and information to other horse people out there. It has also connected me with people in different disciplines that I might otherwise never have met. It's a virtual extension of one of the things I love most about owning horses--the actual, physical community of horse people.

The horse community can be a little odd, but it has also proven to me time and time again that regardless of what kind of riding you do, there is a basic love of the sport and a kinship between those that choose to answer the call that transcends what kind of saddle you use. When I fell off Bar at the beach, the other riders not only came to make sure I was okay, but also accepted Bar and the situation at face value, and helped get him taken care of, too. They may have talked later about how crazy we were, but in the moment, they did what had to be done to make sure rider and horse were safe.

I'm just an ordinary owner, one who is sometimes a little overwhelmed by the challenges we have with our two horses. I suspect I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with herself for not doing better, and probably not the only one who has horses who get hurt, get tired of the arena, or snort at bridges. If even one thing I write helps someone a little bit (or at least makes them laugh), I feel like I'm giving something back.

So for me, technology and horses are not mutually exclusive. However, taking the laptop to the barn or twittering on your iPhone from the saddle is definitely not recommended.

1 comment:

Kathy Sierra said...

You're one of the rare places where my two passions--horses and tech--intersect : ) I'm not sure why such a drastic difference, but in the US especially, the fact is there are far more men than women in tech, and far more women than men involved with horses. So there's that.

In Iceland, where my horses are from, the horse culture is far more male than female, so it's much more common to find men involved in other professions (including tech) with horses as a hobby.

I think almost any place where you're surrounded by people who care deeply about the relationship they have with their animals is a healthy one. It's so great for keeping things in check--you just can't have a safe (let alone meaningful) experience with your horse if you're too focused on yourself. ; )

Cheers. Still looking forward to getting together for some trail riding sometime! And you have an always-open invitation to come ride the Icelandics when you come to Santa Cruz!