Dating a horse girl is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. We put in long hours at the barn and have no qualms about coming home covered in hay, slobber and various other unmentionables. We spend hours watching videos of ourselves riding and constantly ask our significant others to hold things (horses, bridles, lead ropes, saddle pads …) or handle the video camera.
And we’re constantly bemoaning our sore bank accounts as we continue to shell out money for shoes, shows, tack and everything else that doesn’t involve household products (what are responsibilities?).
So what’s the secret to dating an eventer? Surely the men out there who meet us have no idea what they’re signing up for when they first get hooked. Most of us feel we should wear a sign that says “Run for the hills!” on a first date before we launch into a 20-minute speech about how awesome Michael Jung is. No wait, Michael Jung is definitely at least second date fodder.
I took the liberty of asking some well-established horse husbands for their sage advice on how to survive a relationship with an eventer. Ladies (and gents!), pass this along to any potential partner. If they take any of these nuggets of wisdom to heart, they just might be a keeper. If not, well, at least our horses love us.
Here’s what our much-loved horse husbands had to say:
Josh Autry (HH to Jenni Autry): “At shows bring her a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night. And she will still love you even if you don’t understand dressage.”
Gamal Awad (HH to Hawley Bennett-Awad): “Golden rule for being with an equestrian: Horses come first. Husbands, well, maybe make the list. If there is room after cleaning tack.”
Tommy Bateman (HH to Leslie Wylie): “Picture yourself actually doing what she does — it’ll terrify and amaze you.”
Eric Caravella (HH to Holly Payne-Caravella): “For a non-horse guy, dating an eventer can seem overwhelming at first. Fortunately, her expectations of your horse knowledge are low. So, if you take an interest in the sport and somehow manage to use ‘oxer’ or ‘lead change’ properly in a sentence, she’ll be amazed.”
Timothy Harfield (HH to Elisa Wallace): “Being in a romantic relationship with a horse person is really no different than any other romantic relationship. The rules are the same: listen, work to understand their perspective, and don’t neglect the ‘little things’. Also power tools. And food.” (Read more on horsehubby.com)
Brian Rutledge (HH to Colleen Rutledge): “I have it easy because Colleen hasn’t been around for the last six years on Valentine’s Day because she is down south. But I got smarter as the years have gone by to at least send her something down there, be it flowers or candy. I was stupid at first and never sent her anything, and boy I still hear about that years later. Horse women remember everything. You get smarter as the years go by and try to stay on their good side!”
Dave Smith (HH to Tamie Smith): “If you want to impress her, figure out how to tell the brown horses apart.”
Mike Stutes (HH to Frankie Thieriot Stutes): “Don’t talk to her right before cross country, unless she talks to you. Make sure you have anything she needs, even though you won’t know what that is. And never try to give her riding advice.”
Eric Yeh (HH to EN’s Maggie Deatrick): “Have your own hobby. Mine is working.”
So let’s have a collective toast to all of those long-suffering horse husbands (and wives!), including those who said “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and picked up the sport themselves. We may scratch our heads wondering what’s so lovable about us when we’re so over the top obsessed with our horses, but we appreciate each and every one of you! Happy Valentine’s Day to all!