The Ups and Downs of Being a Horse Hubby

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Colleen Rutledge and CR at Aachen.  Photography courtesy of Jenni Autry
Colleen Rutledge and CR at Aachen. Photograph courtesy of Jenni Autry.

This post is going to be about some of the highs and lows of being a horse hubby.

About ten days ago, my wife left for Europe with her horse to compete at the Burghley Horse trials in England, which is one of six 4 star events in the world.  She always leaves early so that her horse has time to get acclimated (yes, apparently horses get jet lag also).  This time, there was also a very slim chance that, if she was there already, she might get the chance to represent the United States at Aachen in Germany as well.

I get word when she arrives in Holland that she will not be competing in Aachen.  She gets on a transport truck and heads to the yard in England where she is going to be staying and training.  She and her horse get there late on Sunday, safe and sound with no issues after a 12 hour ride other than being really tired. Everything is going as planned until I get a text really early Tuesday morning: they have opened up another slot for the Americans at Aachen! (the first high).

I am so excited that my wife will finally get to compete for her country, and I am on cloud nine for her.  I think about how tired they are all going to be:  Colleen, her horse, and her groom. But hey, my wife is tough. She can handle it.

They get picked up on Tuesday evening and drive all night to get to Germany.  They make it there 12 hours later, and just in time for the horse inspection.  I get to see lots of pictures coming in and see a couple great pictures of her and Covert Rights (aka CR) in the horse inspection. I t’s another proud hubby moment because she looks great, and they pass the inspection with flying colors.

My wife and her horse are a little late to the game.  All the other riders had been training for a couple days with the US coach already, and Colleen had unfortunately missed that because of her last minute call up as ‘pitch hitter.’   CR is a young horse, who had never traveled overseas before, so that was another worry for me, especially now that he was suddenly thrust into this huge competition.

As you have probably figured out by now, I pay a lot of attention to what’s going on with my wife and her horses.

The first day of competition comes and I am really excited for my wife and her horse.  CR is usually awesome at dressage, but has one of his worst scores at this level (the first low).  I talked to a couple people and they said that he just didn’t look himself.  Apparently, he looked like he was asleep. But, oh well: time to move on to show jumping.

My wife’s horse can be great at this, and then he can be not so great.  It just depends on the day. Unfortunately, her horse has one of his bad days and knocks down three rails (the second low).  As I said in my original interview on Horse Hubby, when my wife is having a bad day, I leave her alone.  BUT that does not mean that I don’t check up on her.  So I send a text to her groom to see how she is and (as expected) she is very bummed.

The next day is cross country day, and I’m pretty excited because I get to watch. They have a live stream from Germany!

Here is where I have to confess something: every time my wife goes out on cross country at the bigger events, I really feel like throwing up.  Both my hands start tingling.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.  My wife and I have been together for 15 years and this is no lie: I can count on one hand the number of times she has fallen off on cross country.

Back to the story …

So I anxiously wait for Colleen and CR to go out.  I feel like throwing up.  My hands start tingling.  She heads out, but the live stream doesn’t have a camera on her for probably the first six jumps, so I’m getting annoyed.  When they finally show her, she is not on her horse.  Then they cut to a replay of her falling off (the third low).

Confession again: I’m freaking out a little bit now because my wife broke her hip after a fall a few years ago.  I am seriously worried about her and, of course, I can’t reach her yet.  When she finally calls me, she tells me everything’s okay and tells me she is just mad (those are not the exact words she used, but this is a PG post).

I find out later that day that the Americans got the bronze (second high).  Colleen was on the team, and so she got the bronze also.  I was worried they were going to hold this against my wife, but apparently everyone knew they were thrown in to this and did not have much time to prepare.  That made me feel better.

So for all you Horse Hubbies out there: if you are like me, then you are going to feel your wife’s pain when she has a bad day, and you are going to love it when she has a great one.  Try to take it all in stride and don’t stress about it to much.

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