I think it was always inevitable that I would become a horse hubby, even though I didn’t know it until it happened. While I never specifically planned on being a loving and supportive husband to a woman who owns and dotes upon her horse, that was purely for lack of a wife and a horse, not the desire to be a supportive spouse to the woman I care about.
However, it was meeting the other horse hubbies in my wife’s social circle that solidified what kind of horse hubby I was to become; and indeed there are numerous kinds of horse husbands, just like there are numerous levels of buy-in for any spouse when it comes to their partner’s hobbies.
That support ranges anywhere from tacit acknowledgement of that hobby to others in conversation -“yeah, we own a horse” – all the way up to complete buy in and being an active participant in your spouse’s hobby – traveling with your wife to shows, being her gopher as necessary, and her assistant coach, and her cheerleader, and her photographer… you get the idea. I bought in and I’ll never be lacking in the “is there anything I can do to help you” department.
This decision happened gradually over our first couple of years together, as I learned how she had two friends who each owned a horse and a husband, but for the two of them the horse hobby that their wife participated in was mostly just a thing that they let their wife go off and do while they occupied their time some other way.
It could just be my personal opinion, but that always struck me as far more condescending than supportive. I can’t imagine a less supportive way of being supportive than “allowing” your spouse to participate in a hobby, as though your permission were necessary for them to have that personal pastime.
I was already leaning in the other direction, but after seeing those two spousal interactions I was certain. Horse ownership was an area where my wife had been doing her own thing since long before she met me, and so it would be perfectly alright if she wanted it to continue that way. However, I would also make damn sure that I understood her hobby, the thing that she loves, well enough that I would be able to help her any time she wanted.
This has allowed me to develop a lot of new skills. I guarantee you the help was appreciated when our horse went through nearly a year of stall rest and then daily physical therapy for a torn bicep tendon, and my wife wasn’t the one having to drive across town to the barn every single day after work.
I have a decent idea of how to fix the boards on a stall, and I’m able to not embarrass myself when it comes to tacking up a horse for a show, or grooming, or even having a reasonably educated conversation with my wife about her performance on her most recent cross country course or a set of stadium jumps. That last one is taking the longest because the curve is steep, but I’m getting there.
Sure, it has its moments.
There are times where I have to get myself up for driving to the barn because her energy is enough to ride but not drive, and I know she’ll feel better if she rides, so I get over myself long enough to make that happen.
There are times where I find myself saying “oh, Elisa Wallace is at this show? That’s great! And she’s… who again?”
But there’s also the joy I get from seeing her happily bringing home a first place ribbon, and the happiness that comes from a job well done, even if that job is simply “helping someone else’s day go off without a hitch.”
And I’ve discovered a new perk to all of this, which is getting to be a role model. There are a number of young females that board at our barn, and I’d like to think that in some small way I’m setting an example for them to see.
They have the opportunity to see that yes, there are men out there who will be supportive of your hobby, and not just superficially but in a truly meaningful and helpful way. To see that there is no reason to ever compromise this pastime that they love because someone they’re with “doesn’t get it.”
So I guess I’m saying that I’m here to advocate to any and all horse husbands and strongly encourage that you jump into this horse life with both feet if you haven’t already. Yes there will be challenges and new things to learn, but they’re all far less terrifying than you think. Heck, I just recently drove a loaded horse trailer for the first time recently and it turns out it’s not that hard after all!
If you’re already bought in and are wholly supporting your horse wife, good for you, keep at it. If you’re unsure, step outside your comfort zone and just start trying something new. It doesn’t matter what skills you try to pick up, or what knowledge you acquire – hell, it doesn’t even matter if you actually remember it all, the mere brave act of having tried will take you further than you think.