You Know You're at My House When...

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0 walk in and inhale a smell that's a cross between that of a somewhat musty library and that of a tack room. The library odor comes from all the books and magazines, many of them half a century or more old, that line shelves, stack up on tables, and assert themselves wherever else there's room. (Can't be a writer without references, right?)The tack room scent issues forth from such items as the trophy saddle displayed in the family room, to the antique saddles and bridles I've collected for years, to the 50-plus pairs of vintage cowboy boots that somehow insinuated themselves into my domain. Add in the ranch dust carried in by four sets of doggie paws, and you get that distinctive aroma familiar to most horse nuts and probably disdained by those who subscribe to, say, Architectural Digest.

You also know you're at my house when you spy the kitchen counter desperately in need of replacement, and the gleaming aluminum horse trailer within sight of the kitchen window--the one whose price tage would've replaced that kitchen counter many, many times over. You know you're here when you see the piles of people laundry, not yet dealt with, and the stacks of freshly cleaned and neatly stacked horse blankets ready to go back to the barn. You know you're peeking into my closet when you see one lone skirt, purchased sometime in the 1980s, and at least 20 pairs of stiffly starched, new-style jeans lining the closet's rod.

You know it's my fridge when you open the door to find little in the way of fun snacks, but a veritable arsenal of syringes, needles, and bottles of emergency equine meds. Another dead giveaway: the prominently posted list of phone numbers for every vet and vet clinic within a 50-mile radius.

There's no sign at the front door stating, "Horseperson Within--Enter at Own Risk." Why would I need one? You'd know what kind of person lives here the minute you opened the door!