This month TSB took a few minutes to ask Menno Kalmann, author of the side-splitting WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS AND SO ARE THEIR HORSES, how he and his wife (the “real” rider in the family) stay fit, to describe his idea of perfect happiness, and to admit what one might find in his refrigerator at all times–among other things. Menno’s answers, like the stories in his fantastic (book-club worthy) book, had us all rolling in the (barn) aisles.
TSB: January is our “Fitness Month.” Does your wife “work out” to get fit for riding? Do you? If so, what forms of exercise do you routinely enjoy?
MK: My wife never stops working with her horses (I’ve included a picture of one of her regular winter exercises to “prepare” her dressage horse for Grand Prix!) I myself play squash. It keeps me fit, it only costs me the amount of one squash racket every two years, and after a match, I don’t have to spend an hour cleaning the squash court.
TSB: What are your personal fitness goals for 2011?
MK: Our goals are to stay alive, and for me personally, to never fall off a horse again.
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
MK: It would require some negotiation with the wife, but I think it would be a Lusitano, and the book would be “100 Ways to Survive When You Are Trapped on a Desert Island, with Only a Portuguese-Speaking Horse for Company.”
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
MK: My wallet and my cell phone. We are very busy and often stressed. When we lose something important, like a wallet, it often shows up in the fridge. Mindless actions–like most actions in my life (such as “marrying into” a equestrian enterprise, for example…)
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.
MK: It was 18 years ago. It was high and scary. But the horse was well trained by my wife, and the brakes and steering worked fine. I had some lessons in the arena, and at first I thought that I was a very apt student, because it all went very well. Soon, however, I found out that this animal was very experienced, and he just tolerated me on his back as a hitchhiking passenger and did his own routine.
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.
MK: Last year I was launched by my horse, landed on by back, and while I was investigating my various body parts to see if I was still alive, I heard my wife laughing. She claims it wasn’t because she thought it was funny but more likely because it gave her a nervous breakdown. That was the second time I’ve come off a horse. You can read the story of my first time in my book WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS AND SO ARE THEIR HORSES.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
MK: A few weeks after my first riding lessons, on the morning of Christmas day, we went for a trail ride. There was snow, absolute silence, just us and our horses. We even saw some deer. Maybe I spoiled the mystic atmosphere a bit by calling out throughout the ride: “This is fantastic! This is real wealth! This is the essence of life!”
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
MK: Never getting tired of my compulsive impulses to make bad jokes, all day long (I can tell you, this is very tiresome, even for myself. I need to attend a tragic funeral from time to time to give it a rest…)
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
MK: It is great when they clean their own stall, and even better when they volunteer to take on a paper route in order to contribute to paying of the costs of their maintenance.
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?
MK: Sometimes in the summer we can create a complete meal from that which is grown in our own vegetable garden. That makes me very happy.
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect holiday/vacation?
MK: I always escape to the mountains of Switzerland. It is really the worst environment for horses. Two years ago we climbed a steep mountain, abysses all around, and quite dangerous. To our great surprise there was a horse farm on top of that mountain. So we of course decided to take a “tour” of the area on two horses. They knew their way. It was amazingly dangerous, but they knew where to put their feet every next step of the way. We told each other how happy we were that they were so experienced. But when we got back, the farm owner was surprised that all went well, because apparently it was only the third time EVER someone had ridden my wife’s horse…
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
MK: I would ask Einstein, “What is the meaning of C² (for example in E = MC²)?” because when he claims that the speed of light (C) is a fixed number, what’s the use of multiplying or adding, if it never changes at the end…?
TSB: What is your motto?
MK: Buy my book: WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS AND SO ARE THEIR HORSES.