November & December 2017: Crazy Horse People

Crazy Horse People

by Kelli Kozak


Kelli Kozak with Victor in 1983

The Santa Ana winds still blow in my hometown of Los Angeles, goading fires to even more death and destruction throughout the horse community. Had I still lived there, my horse Doc and I would have been forced to evacuate with scores and scores of others. Our last residence is likely gone. I am thankful we are physically untouched, and I am so sorry there was nothing I could do to help.


Although my body is safe in the peace and quiet and beauty of wild Montana, my mind is agitated and searching. This tragedy sparks reveries, remembrances of hours and hours spent “at the barn” with friends and their horses, whom I no longer see. I think of us as we were then, in love with our horses and riding, and counting the minutes until we could next saddle up and race the wind.

Kellli with Dancer 1978

Definition of “crazy” from

  • full of cracks or flaws
  • not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason
  • impractical
  • erratic
  • being out of the ordinary
  • distracted with desire or excitement
  • absurdly fond
  • passionately preoccupied


Young girls get away with being horse-crazy. They boast their own demographic. They have multiple book series, model toys, and clothing emblazoned with their equine idols. Name the toy, and it will likely be available with a horse on it. My Little Pony! Many start there, at a very young age and without a clue that what feels like a simple childhood crush is the beginning of a transformative, lifelong relationship.

Definition of “love” from

  • strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
  • affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
  • an assurance of affection
  • warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
  • the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
  • unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

and lastly,

  • a score of zero

Which naturally takes us to …

Definition of “broke” from

  • penniless

Don’t expect your HCP (Horse-Crazy Person) to pick up the check. They would if they could, but they simply cannot. Stable board, vet bills, shoes and trims, feed, supplements . . . new halter, matching jump boots, more brushes just because, new saddle pad, another saddle that the HCP can’t afford . . . it goes on and on. So please spring for dinner. There’s a good chance your HCP hasn’t eaten lately, as they’ve been busy “at the barn.”

But take heed: HCPs have hay in every pocket of every item of clothing, so choose your dining establishment wisely. Every pair of footwear has spent time in a soiled stall, a muddy wash rack, or a dusty arena. Aroma of horse permeates their skin and hair. If it bothers you, think of the scent as Eau de Cheval—it’s top-dollar (see above).

Regardless, don’t expect your HCP to be spontaneous, with the ability (or desire) to drop everything to join you at . . . anything. No offense, but whatever has to be done “at the barn” is far more important. And there is always something to be done at the barn.

There’s no such thing as bad weather. There’s only drier, wetter, colder, hotter, which only require more or less clothing. Weather does not ever mean a change of plans, i.e., staying in and not going “to the barn.”

Human illness is irrelevant. Theirs and yours. Equine illness is an all-hands-on-deck event and must be given the 24/7 attention the horse deserves. In times of horse-related crises, Horse Crazy People can imagine the unimaginable.

And it has come to pass. I cry an unfathomable amount of tears—tears of grief for the pain and fear suffered by the horses; tears of sadness for their humans: owners, riders, trainers, grooms, caregivers; and newly erupted tears for the horses and ponies I have had the honor of riding and loving and losing.

Reviewing in my mind the image of a mile-long convoy of trucks and horse trailers on a Los Angeles freeway and the news footage of exhausted humans caring for strangers’ horses as if their own, I cry tears of pride, as well, for being able to count myself among the crazy horse people.


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1 Comment

  1. Deb Reed on December 19, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Love your writing and soul.