Equestrian Dating: Competing for Attention

If your significant other is feeling like they’ve been cast aside, it’s important to take an introspective look at your relationship…and yourself. Are you having them come out to the barn with you only to ignore them?

This article first appeared in the January 2017 issue of Heels Down Magazine. For more stories worth reading, subscribe now in the app and get a new issue delivered every month.


By Ashley Harvey

Raise your hand if you tend to lose yourself at the barn.

If you raised your hand, you’re just like me. When I go to the barn, I get lost in the art of currying and snuggling my horse, trying to perfect my leg yields, and cantering poles until I’m the next Laine Ashker, ready to hit every distance and looking awesome while doing it.

The barn is my happy place. I interact perfectly with my barn family, casually laughing and shouting something across the arena and hoping they hear me. Being with them is easy because we all are united in our love for horses and being part of this home away from home.

Once upon a time I was dating a boy, and when we first started dating I owned zero horses. I was on a hiatus from riding…and I was miserable. Fast forward a bit, and I went from zero horses to two horses.

The poor guy had no idea what he had gotten himself into. Gone were our long hours of spending time together, because the barn consumed my time. He was a good sport, and offered to come to the barn with me whenever his schedule allowed, but over time, a strain on our relationship developed.

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“I feel like you’re putting me on a shelf,” he said, his voice filled with months of frustration. I remember looking at him, absolutely shocked. I had known something was bothering him, but had no idea what. I started wracking my brain, thinking of a time when perhaps I accidentally brushed him aside. Nope, still nothing. So I asked him to explain.

He told me that at the barn, it’s all about my horses or my friends, and he felt like he faded into the background.

I can’t say that I had paid enough attention to my behavior to acknowledge whether he was right or wrong. So I apologized and told him I would do my best to solve the problem. Whenever we went to the barn, I made an effort to include him; I introduced him to my barn friends, taught him about the horses, and tried to bridge the gap.

If your significant other is feeling like they’ve been cast aside, it’s important to take an introspective look at your relationship…and yourself. Are you having them come out to the barn with you only to ignore them? Do they have enough activities to stay occupied? Because, I hate to break it to you, muggles don’t find dressage, or even jumping, nearly as interesting as we do.

Having your significant other bring a book, install a fun game on their phone, or something else to keep them occupied can go a long way in keeping them entertained while you’re riding. If they’re interested, you can teach them how to groom, explain what you’re trying to achieve while you’re riding, or have them take a video of your ride. Every muggle is different, so communication is key to solving this potential problem.

Neglect is not an enjoyable feeling. For some couples, it is an easy fix with a little bit of communication and compromise, but in other cases, things don’t always work out. I guess that’s why they say you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.

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