I’ve been riding horses and learning how to train them for years, but this is a completely new concept to me: How to train a “non-horsey” boyfriend.
Where to even start? There’s so much to cover…what is dressage? What is cross-country? What’s Eventing Nation? All of the different types of tack, what it means when my horse ‘spooked’ or ‘refused’, and, most importantly, the all encompassing love for riding (and how to respond appropriately to this obsession).
With the help from my boyfriend, I hope to give you a little more insight on how to ‘train’ your significant other who might be new to the ‘horse world’. Disclaimer: I am definitely not an expert.
Start them slowly; if you rush things and show your ‘crazy horse side’ too early, they might become nervous. If you’re ‘friends’ on social media, they probably already know that you are a horse person (from the countless pictures of your amazing horses).
For the first few dates, try not to talk too much about horses so they don’t think that’s all you do. Focus on some of your other interests or what else you have done. Then, when you feel like they’ve become relaxed and comfortable around you, start talking more about your rides, your horses, upcoming shows, etc. while continuing conversation about other things as well.
As they start to understand the importance of horses in your life, you can start teaching them terms that they will need to know in conversations. Eventing, dressage, show jumping, and cross country are all very important because they will understand more of what you really do. Visual aids help; show videos of upper level riders to show how intense the sport really is. Once they understand the basic terms, you can start talking about types of tack, feed, and anything else.
Now is the important step: Introducing them to the horses. This is really make or break. They might be a little timid around the horses for the first few visits because it is new to them and they might be scared. Reassure them by showing that horses are gentle; have them pet a horse, have them lead (a very quiet horse), and maybe even brush a horse.
They will become more comfortable, it just takes some time. If they don’t want anything to do with your horses, they might not be best suited for the horse life so you might need to rethink some priorities and the future of the relationship.
Eventually, they will need to ride the horse. This will make them understand just how hard it is and they will appreciate what you do so much more. Make sure to put them on a quiet horse and that it’s in a safe situation; a good experience will produce confidence and good results. This step might take some time, so don’t be too forceful about them riding right away.
The final step is getting them to understand just how important horses are to you. Yes, they know you love them and they know that it’s your passion, but it’s more than that. To prevent future arguments or confusion, sit down and talk to them. Make sure they know it’s not ‘just a horse’.
Your horse is your priority and pretty much your entire life. Make them know you’re a crazy horse person so they aren’t shocked later. Warning: Do NOT take this step too early. You should be at a secure place in your relationship to prevent any break ups (if they get freaked out). They will also learn from time; as they are around you and your horses more, they will start to understand your world.
It’s not a simple task; there’s just so much to learn! Make sure you’re returning the favor by trying something that they like (I went running which was definitely an interesting experience). Relationships are double sided so make sure you learn about their passion too!