My husband is not my “horse show husband.” He’s my regular husband.
He is supportive.
He kindly ignores the show fees and board checks coming out of the bank account. He hauls my horse to shows on weekends, spending his own sparse free time helping me frantically follow my dreams in the short lived Minnesota show season. He celebrates with me when I do well, and laughs with me when my horse refuses a jump because I was blatantly staring down at it.
He is honest.
Remember that part about staring down at the jump? He’ll hold me responsible. He also will gently remind me that my horse broke gait, or that we had an awful canter transition right in front of the judge. He tells me when I’m being extra cranky because I’m trying to do a million things at once to get ready for my ride. (Whether that is always beneficial, I guess I’m not actually sure.)
He pays attention.
He watches and learns from what went well and what didn’t. His knowledge level is much higher than he gives himself credit for and his observations and insight have never ceased to come in handy for me. Did I notice that I was not getting to the top of my rise in that last flat class? Now I do. Riders are breaking out of the canter in that deep footing on the far end of the arena and it could be easily avoided? Got it.
His strengths balance my weaknesses.
Memorize a jump course from a sheet of paper? Cue blank stare. My man looks at the sheet once and never fails to translate it into a pattern that makes sense to my rather abstract mind. (“White flower box, ugly red one, big scary one,” etc.)
He goes out of his comfort zone for me.
In case you haven’t noticed, the horse world isn’t always incredibly welcoming. Not only are the “gigantic” horses themselves a little off-putting to someone who isn’t decidedly obsessed with them but, let’s be honest, we horse people are not always the most patient and kind of souls. When we are saddling our horses while also trying to tie a number to our waist and memorizing the six different courses we are riding that day, sometimes we do get a little extra cranky. We carry on conversations with terms that “normal” people probably assume aren’t real words and we don’t always bother explaining what we are talking about. When we do bother, it often comes out a little unintentionally demeaning. (How could you not know what a hack is?)
One of our first dates was horseback riding. My husband gamely climbed on my spunky Appaloosa gelding and I rode my half-broke POA gelding who proceeded to dump me on the trail along the way. (I think twice?). He didn’t tell me until a couple of years later that that canter I thought he initiated was his extra game steed’s idea, not his and he just didn’t really know how to tell him to stop so he went with it. (In all fairness, this man is pretty great at the fake-it-till-you-make-it ideology and, in my defense, I believed in his riding capabilities maybe more than I should have at that point!)
He shares in my interests.
Part of every successful relationship is sharing in your partner’s interests. Over the past few years of learning and watching, my husband has taken an interest in riding to the point of actually owning his own horse. I can’t help but laugh to myself a little when people tell me how cute it is that he comes to be my “horse husband” at horse shows (after I am done inwardly cringing, of course) when I know that the biomechanics of his rising trot are significantly better than several of the competitors in the ring. Next year, maybe he and his mare will join me in the ring. Did I mention that he bought himself breeches, with no persuading on my part?
I know that “horse husband” and “horse show husband” are, of course, meant in a positive way, but I truly can’t help but to cringe when I hear those phrases. I don’t feel the need to preface his title with anything. He is just my husband…being a good husband. When we go to breweries or to football games he doesn’t call me his “craft beer wife” or his “football wife,” though I kind of regret saying that because now he might.
I don’t want to minimize the positive contributions he makes to my showing experiences (and life!) with what I feel is such a silly and rather demeaning title. I hope that all those brave husbands out there who gamely dive into the horse world to be good husbands know that we “horse show wives” are eternally grateful!
About the Author
Ashley Haglund is a horse professional living in Minnesota. She is proudly owned by a sassy sport pony mare, and together they enjoy competing in the hunter/jumper rings. Ashley enjoys instructing, training, and is currently completing her equine science degree through RCTC in Rochester, MN.