A Horsewoman Scorned

“He hit me again.”

“Can you see this bruise?”

“It wasn’t his fault, I was in his way.”

These were the messages my girlfriends received most of the last two weeks, and f it was anybody else—any other woman in this entire world—their responses would have been different.

I would have been told to go to the nearest shelter, or call 911. I would have been told that he will never change, and he didn’t love me. Or, that he had mental issues and I needed to leave, running and screaming.

Instead, I was told the opposite.

Because the man I’m in an abusive relationship with is 1400 pounds of solid muscle, shod hooves and raging adrenaline.

Instead of being told I don’t deserve being thrown against a wall, I am asked if his back is sore. Instead of photographs of bruised arms and battered hips invoking rage or sympathy, I am told to change my bit. And each time that I write my girlfriends in a rage over being taken off with or tossed into the air, nose bleeding and hands blistered, I am told it is my fault—not his.

My face says it all. Photo by JJ Sillman
My face says it all. Photo by JJ Sillman


What’s with the double-standard? Why is it ok for this massive beast to toss me around when it would most certainly not be ok for my 180 lb. manfriend to do the same? Why am I told every day that it is always my fault, and never his, when the opposite would be said if it was a human? If it is never your fault as a woman to be abused by a man, why is it said to always be your fault as a horsewoman?

I sarcastically posed such a question on facebook a few days ago, explaining this relationship based on abuse after a long day at the barn where I ended up sore and exhausted. If nothing changed in a few weeks, I joked, I would be admitting defeat and someone else could have the bastard. Then I watched the comments roll in telling me how this entire situation was my fault. How I must be doing something wrong to ask for the abuse.

Initially, I agreed. Just like a woman that’s been cheated on I had to admit that I was warned. I had been told by his previous lovers that he was a jerk. Yet, he had never lied to me and tried to convince me otherwise. Just like a woman who might google a man before entering in a serious relationship, I had done the same, and found horror stories of his past indiscretions.

Nixon, in his previous relationship, being "taken in." Coady Photography
Nixon, in his previous relationship, being “taken in.” Coady Photography

He had mugshots and a record, and I knew all of this before signing on the dotted line into this marriage of horse and horse owner.

I entered into the relationship as any woman does—with the belief that I could train him. Put the seat down, do the dishes, grill a steak, do not kill me on cross country—ya know, the basics.

But as all women for the past 2016 years have found, the man could not be trained. Sure, he mellowed a bit as his six pack turned into a beer gut and his glistening coat got a little muddy. He let me believe progress was being made while secretly plotting his impending midlife crisis.

The good times were good.
The good times were good.

He knew all along he had me duped by his stunning good looks, pristine pedigree and professional success. He lured me in with a few good nights out on the town and a couple of blue ribbons. He waited, plotted, and right when my heart was full and my lifetime commitment was secure, he snapped.

He forgot how to half pass, he forgot how to jump. He couldn’t seem to figure out how to trot, and definitely didn’t remember his lateral work. But he remembered how to gallop, and he remembered how to bite. He found a renewed love for spooking at invisible mythical creatures and a stunning ability to avoid all contact from water while being hosed off.

I hung my head, feeling like this was entirely my fault. I had married the beast, making the bed that I would be forced to lie in. It was my fault I was being assaulted on a daily basis, and not his. He was bred and raised to be this way. He had gotten away with these bad habits for his entire life, so who was I to try to change him?

I heard over and over about how the tough ones are the best, and how they make us better riders and horsemen. But I’m also here to tell you that sometimes these tough ones just suck. They’re cocky, arrogant and, at the end of the day, they’re just jerks.

But I’m not a quitter. I’m not filing for divorce. Yet.

Therapy sesh.
Therapy sesh.

So I asked him if we could do couples therapy, and he agreed. For the next few months, a few times a week, we are going to go to a lesson therapy, take road hacks long walks holding hands, and bran mash joint bubble baths. I hope, and pray, that we can get this relationship back on track. We’re going to see if the chemistry that made us fall in love can be reignited, but contained. We’re going to see if this marriage of horse ownership can be saved. If not, there is going to be one sexy lawn ornament in Kentucky, and one bitter divorcee.


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