The Kentucky Derby and Conjunctions

The Kentucky Derby was Saturday. And I always get a little emotional about horse racing. (Catastrophes happen. I don’t cry. But when the horses’ cross that finish line, my eyes water like I peeled onions.)

Because I’m a horse lady from back in the day.

Circa 1987.

Picture 4-year-old me putting a harness on a 2,000-pound horse, leading it into a paddock, and going for a ride.

Outrageous, right? If only…

You see, my congenital myopathy was affecting the way I walked.

I used to put one hand on my hip. But instead of when I dip, you dip, we dip (what up, 69 Boyz?), it was stick my stomach out and shuffle my feet. Just like a woman who’s 8 months pregnant.

Zero balance. Zero rhythm. Zero breakdancing.

So my neurologist suggested I enroll in hippotherapy — that’s just a fancy term for horseback riding — because the way a horse walks transfers variable, repetitive, and rhythmic movements to the rider. Which improves their coordination, balance, and strength.

Cue the alarm bell blaring, the gates blasting open, and little me hobbling toward a privately owned horse barn. (I could never beat a racehorse to the finish line.)

Even though it was therapy, I loved every minute of it. Because of the special bond between a girl and her horse.

The horse’s name was Monique. She was a tall, chestnut mare. And while she stood 17 hands high, she was a gentle soul.

She was my horse 2x a week for almost 6 years. But I didn’t just ride her. I brushed her thick coat & inhaled her dander, I filled her bucket with sweet feed mix, and I braided her mane with ribbons.

Our bond was so strong that I could ride her without a saddle or a bit or a sidewalker. (Note: a sidewalker isn’t a strange-moving zombie from The Walking Dead.)

Our bond was so strong that I could scream her name from the parking lot, and she’d whinny back.

Our bond was so strong that I could apply goopy ointment to her hooves that eased painful hoof degeneration.

Because of Monique, not only did my walking improve but also my ability to walk was prolonged.

I never ended up using a wheelchair full time until I was 10. That’s a different story for a different day.

I know people have strong opinions about horse racing. But I have strong opinions about the bond between a horse and rider. And winning.

You know what your readers want to win?

Concise copy.

When you want to shorten your copy and focus on its meaning, cut conjunctions.

Like I did above:

Example 1 — “when I dip, you did, we dip (what up, 69 Boyz?)”

Example 2 — “Zero balance. Zero rhythm. Zero breakdancing.”

Example 3 — “I never ended up using a wheelchair full time until I was 10. That’s a different story for a different day.”

I could’ve added “and” for clarity. But the sentences would’ve lost their dramatic effect.

Try this copywriting tip the next time you want to emphasize a point and quicken the pace of your copy. Like you’re trying to win The Kentucky Derby.