Husband Training

In honor of our anniversary & to prove I didn’t forget this year:
[Originally appear as “Horse Tales: On Husbands and Horses”, Horse Illustrated, September 2011.]

Photo by Kathie Mautner

My horses may be unbroken hooligans, but I am a spectacular husband trainer. I start with a man who’s ridden a handful of times and drives a Datsun 300Z sports car. I produce a man who has his own horse and covets the Dodge truck with the Cummings diesel engine.

Be Careful What You Ask For
Since he is smart and observant, new Hubby easily becomes a human mirror. I tell him what to look for; he corrects my riding. The initial dialogues run something like this:
Hubby: Your hands are too low.
Me: What do you know? I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. How could you think you know more about this than I do?! Rant! Rave!
Hubby: You said that your elbow and hand should make a straight line with the bit. They don’t. Your hands are too low.
Me: (grumble, grumble)

Allow Them Room to Grow
Our first horse as a couple is an off-the-track Thoroughbred, complete with racing plates attached. Hubby quickly learns to stand in the center of a lunging circle. After a few months, Horse is progressing nicely but is half-broke at best. I go out of town. I call back to check on Horse and Hubby. “We’re fine,” he says, “Only, I got tired of lunging. I decided to ride.” I am struck dumb by the unsuitability of a novice rider and a horse whose three gaits started as walk, jig, and buck. “It’s okay,” he tells me, “He only ran halfway back to the stall.”

Don’t Lend Him Your Horse
Horse eventually learns the three gaits. We head to a horse show. I’m thrilled to scrape up a few pastel ribbons in low jumping classes. Hubby rides Horse in the Introductory Rider division. They win the two over fences classes, didn’t bother with the flat class, and win the division. Yes, winning reflects on my training. Yes, I had schooled Horse over all his jumps. I still want to make the two of them walk home.

Beware of Overtraining
At another show, Horse dumps me at a cross-rail and heads for the horizon. Hubby and a family friend observe this statement of principle from the side of the warm-up ring. Family Friend goes after Horse. All well and good. However, Hubby also goes after Horse, leaving me prostrate across the jump. Look after the steed. Try not to forget the wife.

Don’t Laugh
I borrow a friend’s Patient Little Horse for a family trail ride. Horse is a complete pill toward P.L.H. the entire ride. P.L.H. bears this with fortitude. Back at the barn, P.L.H. finally decides he’s had it with Horse’s behavior. From a standstill, P.L.H. makes a surprise lunge. Horse leaps backwards with a startled Who Me? attitude, complete with a dramatic Miss Piggy hand to the chest. Horse can’t believe someone has an argument with him. In the fuss, Hubby is taken by surprise and comes off. There is a moment when Hubby and Horse have exactly the same startled look on their faces. I can not restrain myself. Don’t laugh if your spouse falls. Really, really don’t start laughing before he hits the ground.

A Word to the Guys
Hubby’s advice to future horse husbands: Give it up. You are never going to rip the horse out of the girl, so don’t even try. You may choose to follow her to the barn, or you may send her off with a kiss on the cheek, but she’s going to go. Get used to it.

Hubby’s advice to all horse husbands: Never, ever ask your wife to chose between her husband and her horse. You won’t like the answer.
How do you reconcile spouse & stable?

4 thoughts on “Husband Training

  1. Mine date-turned-husband started out with a Mopar, an unruly Doberman and a pocket procetcor. I didn’t even bother trying to reconcile .. I just brought him over to the Dark Side. He never knew what hit him. Now his horse sickness is worse than my own. Hope you have a happy!

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