You don’t have to be a Horseman to be a Horse Husband

In Opinion
You don't have to me a horseman to be a horse husband
You don’t have to me a horseman to be a horse husband

I feel the need to set the record straight: I don’t know how to ride a horse…and that’s okay.

Sure, I’ve been in the saddle once or twice, but sitting in a saddle while a horse moves beneath you is not the same thing as riding, especially when the horse’s behavior is clearly more a consequence of your wife’s guidance than any nonsense you happen to mumble through your inexperienced aids.

Timothy Harfield ‘riding’ bareback and bridle-less on Fledge the Mustang. Proof that you don’t have to ride horses to have a healthy relationship with a horse person.

When Elisa and I first met, I was completing my PhD in philosophy (I moved to Georgia from Canada for school. I stayed for love). Both Elisa and I are passionate people, who invest a tremendous amount of ourselves into what we do. At first, it would seem to make sense that people who are passionate about something should find a partner who is passionate about that same thing. Horse people should be with horse people. Philosophers should be with philosophers. But, as the saying goes,

“don’t defecate where you masticate”

Passions are good, but those passions are not our entire selves. There is more to us than our investments. But, particularly for passionate people (horse people are nothing if not passionate), it becomes very easy to lose our multidimensionality if we single-mindedly pursue one specific path. Left to our own devices, it is very easy to become unbalanced. Paradoxically, being with someone who is different from you can allow you to be more yourself than you could ever be by yourself.

“I am more myself with Elisa than I could ever be by myself”

A benefit of being in a relationship with someone who is exceptional in a domain that is entirely foreign to one’s own is that there is no competition. Not once have I ever aspired to be a horseman. But it IS important to find a way to cross language barriers. It is important to me that Elisa is different from me, but from the very beginning it was also important to me that I come to appreciate what she does. It is important that Elisa is able to express her joy to me, and it is important for me to understand it.

Like so many horse husbands, the way that I started out was through what I already knew. I had some experience with web design and marketing. I could wield a camera and wanted to improve my skill. And so by being involved on the marketing side, I could add value to Elisa’s career while at the same time creating opportunities to ask questions, learn more about what she does, and develop new skills of my own.

“Does this photograph look good?”

“No. The horse looks like a donkey”

“How about this one?”

“No. She’s being naughty”

“And this one?”

[eye-roll and stare] “you can’t possibly think that looks good.”

An interested person is an interesting person. Creating opportunities to help Elisa through an otherwise un-horsey skillset has made me a far more interesting person.

All this is not to disparage horse-couples. There is certainly a benefit to be gained from partnering up with someone with similar interests. All I mean to do here is to give hope to the non-horsey, that being with a horse woman does not also mean having to become a horseman. Again, this happens, but it is not necessary.

If you are a non-horsey man with a horsey woman, don’t despair. Instead, look for ways to become involved in your wife’s passion by incorporating your own. In doing this, horses are transformed from a ‘her-thing’ to an ‘our-thing’ without you ever having to jump in the saddle.

(Of course, you’ll still have to get your hands dirty, once in a while. Horses poop for a living, and life with a horse person will mean that, once in a while, you’ll still need to roll up your sleeves and muck…er, I mean ‘gain perspective’)

You may also read!

How to sleep better at horse shows

Part of the reason us horse hubbies can frequently be found napping at horse shows is that it’s so


3 strategies for dealing with public speaking anxiety: Lessons from a pro athlete

Fans often ask my wife, pro equestrian Elisa Wallace, if she still gets nervous. Her answer is always: yes.


8 Things I Learned About the Hunter/Jumper A-Circuit

I recently completed the transition from oblivious non-horseperson to full-fledged horse show boyfriend by accompanying my girlfriend to numerous


Mobile Sliding Menu