A lasting bond exists in the mysterious relationship between women and horses, little girls and ponies.
That bond is difficult to explore and even harder to explain because there are no definitions, no real “truths” behind the relationship.
Nancy Conger’s one-woman show, The Truth about Women and Horses, this week at The Old Fire Hall, seeks to discuss the special closeness between women, horses and why this closeness is so difficult to define.
Conger herself is a horsewoman, who professes a longstanding love for horses: “I’ve always been involved with horses, at first only in fantasy as a child, but then I was involved in riding lessons,” she says.
Conger, like many horse-crazy little girls, measured her suburban backyard to see if it was big enough to keep a pony, and took books out of the library on care and feeding of a pony, when she didn’t even have one. It’s an obsession, and one she clearly experienced and had to explore.
“It was because of my childhood obsession and my adulthood love of the animal, that I knew there was something to it,” she says.
“What is that? What is up between women and horses? Why do we have such a fascination with them?” she asks.
Conger set about asking fellow horsewomen, friends and others about women and horses. “Boy did I open a can of worms!” she laughs about her initial foray.
She discovered that the thing about women and horses is that it’s impossible to define.
“Men said it was about power, and about sex. Women said it was about a bond, love, power, control and relationships. No two people said the same thing,” Conger says.
Love of horses can be about power, control and bonding, because when a woman rides a horse, she is in control of a thousand-pound animal.
Conger started to realize that there was no “one” answer, but all of the answers were interesting. They started shaping into characters that would form the structure of her one-woman show.
“I have one character, a woman who shows Saddlebred horses, preparing for a horse show with makeup and doing her hair while reflecting on the primping process her horse is also going through for the show,” Conger says.
Horses are a reflection of culture. Specifically, the fascination women have with horses can be reflected in Conger’s performance and how interactions with horses reveals how girls and women are shaped by cultural expectations, pressures and difficulties.
“I seek to show horses as a theme, a reflection of how we are affected by culture,” says Conger.
Consider a 15-year-old girl, pimpled and awkward, grooming her gorgeous Arabian horse’s mane. The horse’s beauty reflects how ugly the teenager feels. Later, a child gallops her stick horse, free and wild, around a yard — not yet tamed by society to be demure, quiet, pretty.
Conger’s show, The Truth about Women and Horses, opens at The Old Fire Hall Wednesday, Sept. 15, and runs until Saturday, Sept. 18. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office, Arts Underground and www.yukontickets.com.