Sim Horse Games Got Me My Career – Part 1

Sim Horse Games Got Me My Career – Part 1

I am a closet sim horse game player.  There, I said it.  The weight of years of hiding behind my fake cyber ponies has been unlifted!  Really I should say I’m a former sim horse game player, because I don’t exactly have time for such things at the moment but I will tell you one thing: I owe my career to these games.

That may sound drastic, but it’s true.  I went to college for English Education (high school teaching), and I work in design, UI and web marketing right now.  Those are all skills I picked up myself through various jobs but originally they all came from sim.

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What is this “Sim” which you speak of?

In its broadest term, sim is simulation and in this case – simulation horse games.  The deal is you have virtual horses to breed, train and show.  You may think of fancy 3d computer graphics, but I can assure you that its roots started much, much simpler.

Part 1: Sim Horse Chat

I basically grew up in the dawn of the internet.  We got AOL in my house when I was 12, and almost immediately after I stumbled upon these AOL sponsored “Sim horse Chat” rooms.  What what?

Turns out they were for either showing your sim race horses, or showing your sim hunter/jumpers.  How do you show a fake horse in a chat room you ask?  Why, through lots of creativity!

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The race horses were judged on description.  Each horse/rider combination would have a different color/font to differentiate themselves and a person would “judge” the race and call out the turns.  It went something like this…

And the horse’s have left the gate!

Simon breaks clean and gallops across the dirt track, his hooves churning the footing beneath him and muscles stretched out underneath me as I lightly perch in my position and look between his ears for a spot on the rail.

The “judge” picked the eventual winner usually by who typed the most and who had the best description of galloping their horse in the race.  A pretty font color and a good sim horse name never hurt either!

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Racing was my favorite and also the most popular kind of competition in the sim horse chat rooms, but jumping was another that was run much, much differently.  This time the “rider” would enter the “ring” and type a word for the gait their horse was performing.  Like so:

Walk
Walk
Trot
Trot
Trot
Canter
Canter
Canter

And the gait would be typed at least once a second – you would be penalized if you went slower. The “Judge” would then insert a “Jump” in the middle of the “Course” so it looked like this…

Canter
Canter
…I0I====I0I…

And the “rider” would type “Jump” and “Land” and then “Canter” as soon as they saw the jump. You “pulled a rail” if you typed “Canter” after you saw the jump emoticon.  It was actually a really, really tedious thing to do correctly.

From these sim horse chat competitions, I would write notebooks with all my horse’s results and placings.  When that got boring, I discovered the world of geocities free websites and started making my own pages.  At first I just did the WYSIWYG builder, but eventually I wanted to do more complicated stuff (like that java script that makes a picture look like water!) and began to learn rudimentary HTML.

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This was my hobby after school if I wasn’t at the barn, which at that point in time I only got to ride a few days a week.  Sim horse chat was a treat, and it taught me…

  • How to type really, really quickly (I clip along at about 125 words a minute)
  • Using descriptive language with writing, which helped my creative writing, content writing at my job and I’d like to think blogging too!
  • The beginning of my love for HTML and CSS

Stay tuned for part 2, where I delve deep into the world of Photoshop and graphics with Sim!  Did any of y’all ever participate in AOL sim horse chat or something similar?

27 thoughts on “Sim Horse Games Got Me My Career – Part 1

  1. I used to play horseland. I learned most of the photoshop and HTML skills I have from that. I haven’t done it in years though… Need to get my hands on a cersion of photoshop!

  2. I never did a sim chat and I think I wouldn’t have lasted long enough. It sounds tedious. 🙂

    However I did play a lot of the horse simulations and I’m still pretty big in a horse racing one. They can be a lot of fun. Though I find myself with way less time to devote to it these days.

      1. I still play SIMhorseracing.com … in fact, that’s how the boy and I met in a round about way. (We’re both very good friends with the owner/designer/administrator and she introduced us at the Breeders’ Cup a few years ago).

  3. I owe much of my web design and Photoshop skills to the SIM horse world too! And like you, that is part of my job now… better not tell my parents because they hated those games!!

  4. That is so awesome! I have never heard of chat room horse games before. I would be interested to see how it works in real life :).

    I did play lots of games like horseland. Like everyone else, it really developed my Photoshop and web design skills. Now that I manage the media for my real horse farm, I am thankful for some of those skills. And on a side note, I love when non-horse people are amazed to see I have some of those skills. Who would have thought ;).

    1. I find the same thing! When people are like ‘wow, how did you learn to do these things?’ I have a hard time being like “well, fake pony games!”

  5. The group I was in interacted solely through e-mail. When we had a show or a race, you put all the horses’ names on slips of paper and drew for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, out of a hat! It was VERY time consuming, especially if your farm hosted an all-around show. LOL!

  6. So, I played games like Championship Horse Trainer and Let’s Ride!, where you had to coordinate the speed/gait that you wanted by the key you pressed and space bar was almost always “jump”. Then you had to time those jumps for the ideal spot (a green bar between two red bars), or you would get a refusal or knock a rail. I actually really loved those games and actually have one in my bag right now!

  7. I think I’m too old to have played the sim games. By that time, I had my own pony and was spending all my time and money on him! I did play with Breyers a lot as a kid… does that count?

  8. Ha, I totally played sim horse games (and pbem Anne McCaffrey fanfic…o.O)! Never saw that kind of chat approach, though. Sounds better than the (totally rigged) random draw method with which I was familiar!

  9. I think I started in the sim world a little after you. I haven’t heard of your sorts of sims, and the ones I used were website-based. Horseland wasn’t the first sim I joined, but one of many. A lot of them were run through expages and geocities as well. (RIP the WYSIWYG geocities pages with blinkies, animated backgrounds, crazy-coloured text and areas of text overlapping one another. Hope to never see the likes of you again!)

    Ludus Equinus (LE) was my favourite sim but perhaps came too late for you (about five-six years ago). It no longer exists – RIP LE! – but it ran along a similar vein to HL. I had one of the earlier accounts – 372 – and when the game closed a couple of years later, there were over 20,000 accounts.

    I mostly dabbled in RPGs though, more than sims. Did you ever venture down that road?

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