When I search the intertubes, a ‘horse husband’ is often caricatured in one of two ways. On the one hand, the horse husband is a bumbling oaf who, although well-meaning, often doesn’t have a clue when it comes to even the most basic equestrian tasks. On the other hand, the horse husband is someone who doesn’t fully support their spouse’s passion for horses, is deeply anxious about the amount of time and money involved, and so is less a partner than an obstacle to be overcome.
It should be said from the start that much of the cyber-stuff on horse husbands is very funny. I am particularly fond of memes of men getting horse stuff hilariously wrong. I mess up all the time, and I am usually the first one to admit it — and take a picture — when I do. It’s adorable (cuteness points. Score!!!), and, from my perspective at least, my ability to laugh at myself affirms my wife by underlining the complexity of her work, while at the same time demonstrating self-assuredness. (PRO TIP: the best way to get out of doing a job is to do it once and fail so epically that you are never asked to do it again). I worry, however, that some of the adorable and hilarious horse husband material online is symptomatic of deeper anxieties and insecurities at the heart of many relationships between horse- and non-horse people.
Upon first entering into a relationship with a women and her horse(es), few men initially understand the cost and commitment involved. By the time they do, they are either head-over-heals or running for the hills. If the former, love’s blinders lead many men to convince themselves, in spite of strong assurances and evidence to the contrary, that horses are ‘just a hobby,’ and that after marriage, horses will be easily given up in the face of more reasoned opinion. In the minds of these men, horses are merely a proxy for husbands, and will no longer be necessary after marriage (and imprudent when looking to start a family). After all, how much time will a woman have for horses once she has a husband to take care of?
Entering into a relationship with a view to changing the other person is never a good idea.
Many men view horses as (1) threats to financial stability (Horses are a great way to make a small fortune: You start with a large fortune, then get a horse), and/or (2) competition for their partner’s attention. Resentment and disapproval drive passion underground. Feeling unsupported, women will progressively stop sharing their passion with their spouse, engaging in it as a guilty pleasure. This is what happen’s to anyone, regardless of gender, when they feel mis-recognized or judged. How soul-crushing is it not to be able to share your greatest passion, an important part of yourself and your self-identity, with your most significant partner? Feeling un-respected, why wouldn’t you take every opportunity to make fun of your husband, or horse husbands in general, for not being able to do the things that he trivializes?
A major goal of horsehubby.com is to demonstrate that horses and husbands are not mutually exclusive. Horsewomen are nuts (they are the first ones to admit it), but being nuts is a sign of living passionately. A key to effectively navigating a relationship with a horsewoman (or with anyone, for that matter), is to realize that passion is not a zero-sum game. Encouraging your wife’s passion for horses doesn’t mean that she will have any less passion for you. To the contrary, encouraging her in her passion will open her up to encourage you in yours. By encouraging and understanding each other in your respective passions, you will grow in passion for each other and laugh freely in love and with unfettered joy.