Experts say--no doubt the elusive board of "they"--that it takes around seven seconds to form a first impression of somebody. I would like to say that I am not that judgemental or shallow--sometimes it takes even less time for me to decide what I think of someone.
In WalMart, for example, (officially my least favorite place on earth) it can take as little as three or four seconds. This split second judgement kicks in when I spy a three hundred pound shopper with a cart containing cheap wine, The National Enquirer, and cartons of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cremes ( which, by the way, are delicious. Something that artificial shouldn't taste good). Or the guy with a feathered mullet and I-Don't-Call-911 T-shirt (for more examples see a fave source of shallow entertainment: www.peopleofwalmart.com) .
Notice I didn't say seven second evaluations of people are good or accurate. Only God can determine inner spirit and heart. But to judge is human and, as a member, I err. Frequently.
But can a person come even close to a true (though incomplete) impression of somebody in around seven seconds? I say yes. As long as they're wearing equestrian footwear.
Last week I stood in the check out line at Costco. With nothing to do but wait, I engaged in people watching. It's fun to imagine things about people based on attire or the food in their cart. I can justify this, I'm a writer (characters have to come from somewhere you know). A woman in the next lane proved to be challenging: bland looking, nothing spectacular in her food choices-- peanut butter and tomato sauce, average height, and appropriate, non-descript clothing. Then I looked at her feet. She wore a pair of Ariat paddock boots. Chunks of dried manure and mud clung to the soles. Suddenly I knew several things about this stranger I would likely never meet.
Like other sports, horseback riding has rules, attire, lingo. And while any old person can wear a pair of cowboy boots, only someone serious would invest in Ariat. Someone who actually rides and, more likely, owns their own horse. Here is what I know about serious equestrians:
1. They are compassionate and passionate. By definition a passion is something you endure suffering for. Trust me, this applies to riding a horse.
2. They probably did not spend much time playing with Barbie as a child and likely enjoy manual labor/getting dirty. Girlie girls do not last as equestrians.
3. They do not give up easily. If in doubt, muscle around a 1,000 pounds of horseflesh for a month or so. If you don't give up, you'll discover new levels of will power and determination. I promise.
4. They own other animals--a hundred bucks says the home has at least one dog.
How's that for seven seconds? Now, for an Oatmeal Creme or two...