Photo Credit: Sherry J Photography
Looks like it's time for me to interject myself into the blog, it has been a while! Hopefully, you all liked my last blog post title "Horse Hubby (or HSO) Basics aka Farm Life Hacks." It's been almost a year since that post and hopefully it has been helpful to some of you. Lately, I have ben getting suggestions to open a Horse Dad/Hubby/Significant Other school to teach new people about horse stuff. Of course this was in jest, but I keep getting the suggestion, so maybe there is something to it. I am writing this from a guy/horse dad perspective, so please, take no offense to me saying horse dad or hubby. This "guide" can apply to both men and women, but it's easier for me to write it this way. Got to throw it out there because it is 2018, and well, it's just polite.
Let me start off with saying this: you can't make someone get involved with the horse life who doesn't want to be a part of it. You can't teach someone who has zero interest in learning. If this is extremely important to you, that you have someone who is as equally invested into the horse community as you are, you might need to find someone who already is. Again, you can't make people do something they don't want to do.
So you have someone that has the willingness to learn and meet you halfway, what do you do? First thing, he/she needs to follow Horse Hubby on Facebook and listen to the podcasts. It's somewhat of a support group that mainly has guys who live with or are married to a crazy horse lady (yes, you are crazy horse people).
Now, the best thing you can possibly do is learn nomenclature. That will get you about 60% of the way in the horse world and it will impress your Other Half. I had to learn most of this the hard way, by spending time at horse shows and listening to what announcers were saying, eavesdropping on instructors teaching, and admittedly, YouTube. You don't need to make comments about riders such as "she needs to have silky reins and not have a death grip," or "she needs to hug her horse with her legs." That's trainer talk, not horse dad talk. Now, you can say "that's a good looking trot, canter, etc.." and you will be right most of the time. I think for the first year I was with Stacey I stared back at her with a blank expression when she would tell me something along the lines of fixing the bend or a horse getting flat over a fence.
I pretty much knew only four things about horses when we started dating: which end the food comes in, which end the food comes out, riders sit somewhere on the back, and they like carrots. If you don't know these four things then please message me on Facebook and we can do one-on-one lessons. When your Other Half is riding, you should know at a minimum the difference between walk, trot, canter, and gallop. It's kind of hard for me to describe what to look for in the differences in this post, but YouTube is a great resource.
When it's not riding time, it's barn time. This is where it's your time to shine. There is a lot of nomenclature for this part, and a lot of stuff you can take charge of or help with. Brushes: there are a ton of varieties, but you need to really only know the differences between two. One is a curry, and the rest are brushes. I don't care what anyone else tells you, these are all brushes and if you are asked to hand one, you need to ask which one. If your horse lady says the one with the wooden handle, you hand her the one with the wooden handle. Easy peasy. If you are really smart, you buy her a grooming bag with a horse grooming kit and when she asks for something, you lift the bag within reach because she is probably standing on a small ladder and you will earn just as many kudo points without really knowing which one she is asking for.
Washing a horse: have you ever washed a car? It's the same thing. Start at the top and work your way down. You could Google how to wash a car and pretend every time it says car, they mean horse. Now odds are you are probably going to have your significant other step in and take over, or redo something. THAT'S OKAY! Horse women are extremely picky when it comes to the cleanliness of a horse. Do you know how many things we have that keep Klein's tail white? I don't, mainly because I can't count that high. So do the basic wash (remember car washes? You are going to do the cheap setting) and let them worry about the details.
By the way, bonus points for you, this is NOT a white horse, it is a grey horse (but we all know it's really white).
Beer makes washing them more fun.
Fetching a horse requires patience, and practice. If you plan on being around for a while, it's time to start teaching an easier method of calling a horse in. I'm not saying that's why I taught our three (the fourth is still learning) to come on a whistle, but do you really want to walk half a mile in one direction to fetch a horse? Nah fam, work smarter, not harder. So you caught a horse, what do you do? You should be able to put a halter on and use a lead rope to lead (hence the name) a horse back to the barn. This is an invaluable skill. Do you know how many horses I've had to catch that escaped? Well over a hundred. Wait, what? We have a hundred? No, but it is a known FACT that every barn you are at whether you board there, your significant other is at another barn taking a lesson, or you are at a show, there WILL be loose horses at some point.
See pictures about how to hold a lead rope...
Normal halter/lead rope.
Lead rope around the neck method.
Halter made with a lead rope.
The belt method.
Manual Labor: Men, let's talk about the elephant in the room. You are a guy and you can lift heavy thing, open hard jars, and fix things. This is going to be the BIGGEST help you can do for your crazy horse lady. One of my sole jobs is horse barn maintenance, and that's okay with me. Horses like to horse around, and when a 1500-1800lb animal (we have big horses) hits something, it usually breaks. I am talking fences, chairs, and fans (looking at you Wesson), moving entire barn walls off the foundation (ahem, KLEIN!), knocking off everything hanging up, etc... If you are not handy with tools and fixing things, you better learn. Crazy horse ladies, you better learn. Crazy horse ladies, you better learn some things too because every time I leave the country, shit breaks and Stacey has to fix it.
YouTube is also a great resource for handy man repairs (seeing a trend yet?). Now, I am not talking about plumbing sinks, running electrical wires, or shingling roofs, but you should know how to mend a fence. When it comes to lifting heavy things, lift what you can. I will tell you right now, I have a huge advantage with barn chores because I am 6'3", 270lbs of pure American freedom. I also go to the gym five days a week, most stuff is pretty easy for me in regard to manual labor. If your wife gets 200 bales of hay delivered, your ass better be out there helping her put those bales away! Now remember what I said earlier, work smarter not hard. I recently bought Stacey a heavy duty wagon to haul hay out into the pasture. Like I said, most stuff is easy for me but that doesn't mean I have to tire myself out for no reason.
We use the cart only for hauling hay bales out into the pasture. If you have ever tried carrying a bale by the string for a distance greater than 20 feet, you will understand the pain.
Pasture cleaning and barn cleaning another big thing. You have to have a poop free pasture and barn to keep the horses happy and healthy. Some diseases, viruses, and parasites can transfer from horse poop to horse. We all know how to sweep and shovel, grab a broom and start sweeping the barn. Want to make things easier? Buy your crazy horse lady something to make barn chores easier for her, but instead it's for you, that's a trade secret. (Hint, refer to the linked blog post in the beginning)
What is the last thing you can learn? Take the initiative. Even if you do something wrong, the fact that you tried means a lot (pretty sure that's relationships 101) as long as you don't endanger yourself or your horses. Yeah, I have a good five year head start on most horse boyfriends but I learned by doing. If you do something wrong and the crazy horse lady tells you, check your ego at the door and listen to what they said.
Ultimately, this is on you, but be honest with your significant other. If this isn't your thing, tell them. I know plenty of guys married to horse women who have no input in anything horse related, nor do they even know the names of the horse(s) she owns. That's ok too because I'm sure they had a discussion about it 20+ years ago.
Last thing, if you were told to read this, ask yourself why? I asked a bunch of crazy horse women for input, is one of these paragraphs about you? Maybe you should get out to the barn right now and help...
Hope you guys enjoyed this, if you want to see more Other Half perspectives on horses so your significant others/spouses have something to read, let us know!!