Guest Author: Stacey Chepren
You would think going on a six month “work trip” would be a little invited break from Horse Hubby life. Some significant others merely put up with the horse life because they know there is no way out of it. If your significant other has the horse bug, it’s a permanent condition 98% of the time.
My husband Shane and I have a significant complicating factor to our life with horses: we’re both active duty military. This means in addition to the regular work that comes with the horse life, we have to relocate our farm about every three years. I have this down to a science, I have been doing it for almost 11 years now. Shane just follows my lead when moving time rolls around and we get it done. His support is invaluable in those times. He drove 17 hours behind my rig with an overnight stop with my mares. He bought us two way radios and because of that, when I had a huge blowout on my trailer I knew immediately when I may not have known for another minute. I was able to pull over instantly before any more damage took place. I was shaky from it happening and having to pull over on a narrow shoulder on the side of a very busy part of I-95 and he had the tire changed in less than five minutes to get us off the shoulder as fast as possible. He also had the forethought to put a battery powered impact gun in my tack room for that trip, making it possible to change that tire with NASCAR pit crew skills. He was there to sign Brook Ledge on to our last base because it was the easiest spot we could get the big rig into that was closest to the barn to load our senior citizen for his trip to our next location.
Deployments are a part of our complicated horse life as well. In between deployments are various shorter trips for work called “TDYs” or temporary duty, in civilian terms. They can range from three days to two months. We both have them, and when I’m gone I never worry for a second about how the horses are being cared for. He even puts everyone on notice at work that he’s a “single parent” for that time frame and if the horses need something (vet appointment, farrier), he’s leaving.
Deployments are six months long for us Air Force people. They are where I would expect him to be happy for a little mini-vacation from his chores, or enjoy some relief from not hearing about horses one thousand times a day, or show plans, or me agonizing over little details on tack that I want, but can’t make a decision on.
You also need quite a bit of preparation for a deployment. The preparation is combination of training, medical appointments, as well as getting your personal life in order (prepping classic cars for storage, switching insurance on some vehicles, getting powers of attorney where necessary, freezing gym memberships and cell phone accounts, etc…).
Let me tell you what Shane was doing the last week he was home before his recent deployment. He worked around our property to make things easier for me while he is gone. I didn’t ask him to do any of this. I can handle the farm while he is gone. One example of what he was up to was trimming branches that were getting a little too long near where I turn around to park my trailer. He also went out and trimmed all the branches that had fallen during a recent storm on our trail around the property, or that had become long enough to be annoying when I ride my 17 hand horse around.
What does he do while he’s deployed? In addition to hunting down terrorists, he is busy taking as many pictures as possible of equestrian life from the other side of the world to show me. He wants to FaceTime with the horses. I randomly find boxes delivered in the driveway that are full of their favorite treats: Nature Valley Oat ‘N Honey granola bars. The other morning I had an email saying I had a gift at Dover Saddlery, it was a surprise $200 gift card for things for my upcoming show season.
During his last deployment, our old man gelding came home after retiring from life as a carriage horse and a big hitch horse. The day Brook Ledge dropped him off to me in Georgia from Salt Lake City, my hubby ran around his office in Afghanistan telling everyone he is now a father of three. Distance means nothing for him when it comes to the horses. This guy takes his Horse Hubby title VERY seriously, and I’m VERY lucky to call him mine.