You’ve passed that honeymoon phase of a new relationship. It’s a few months in, and your new boyfriend has successfully met the horse and everything is smooth sailing – or so you think. But now, you notice that he’s starting to text more often about how long you’ll be at the barn. His excitement about your upcoming horse show is not as lively as it was during month one. What gives?
‘When Will You Be Home?’
I feel this is perhaps the most common question asked by non-horsey significant others. It doesn’t take long to figure out that we spend as many waking hours with our horse as possible, and this can cause problems with boyfriends who just don’t get it.
When asked how long you’ll be at the barn, it often invites defensiveness in your answer. What does it matter to him if I’m gone for three hours? He’s got plans anyway!, you might think. But rather than going on guard immediately, frame your response in a non-confrontational manner. Trust me. Give a clear time estimate, and do your best to stick with it. In any relationship, give and take is important, so be respectful of your significant other’s time as well as your own.
And with that give and take, remember to take a deep breath before asking a similar question when he goes off for a round of golf or over to a buddy’s house. Balance is key here – you can only expect the equal of what you are putting in!
‘Do I Need to Come to Your Show?’
Well, sure, that would be ideal. Showing support is also a key part of any relationship. If your person has a hobby or other activity they enjoy, they’d probably love it if you tagged along every now and then. But again, be respectful of their time.
There are only so many weekends in the year to enjoy together, and this can be more complicated if there are a lot of options for what to do. For example, my boyfriend does motocross, and he primarily rides his bike on the weekends. So we plan ahead: if there’s an event I’d like to go to, we’ll allot the next open weekend to go to the track, and vice versa. It’s not always perfectly split, but it feels very fair for both of us. Plus, there’s no stopping us from doing our own thing individually if we just can’t give it up!
But I want him to want to come to the show, not just because I asked him to!, you think. Most of the time, a horse show probably isn’t something he’d do on his own. But if it’s something that’s important to you, that should bump it up a bit on the priority list. When he does come to your shows, don’t automatically enlist him to be your groom, either. He’s there to hang out with you and support you, not to wait on you hand and foot. You don’t need a man for that, even if it is pretty nice sometimes.
‘Does Your Horse Actually Need That?’
Yes. The answer is always yes. All kidding aside though, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open regarding finances. Particularly if you share expenses and funds, be respectful of that and don’t surprise him with large charges on the credit card. If you’re footing the bill for your horse on your own, of course this is your choice.
It’s my horse! I can choose to do what I want with my own horse!, you respond internally.
I’ll use the example of my boyfriend and his motocross again here. Last week, he received about four packages from various motorsports stores, and I found myself opening my mouth to make a “Babe, how much did you spend now?” joke. But then I thought about how many packages I’d received for my horse, and how each one (at least in my head) was carefully selected with a purpose. So instead, I shrugged – and maybe put down a tally mark next to the “His Purchases” column in my secret notebook. You know, for use at a later date.
In all seriousness, here is a situation where holding back on being defensive is important. It can almost guarantee an argument, so have an adult conversation just as you would about any other expense that arises. Yes, it is your horse and, most likely, your money. You don’t need to justify the expense, but you can explain it so that he may better understand the use of the product or service.
Relationships are tough. Add in the time you put into your riding, and you’re stretched pretty thin. It’s important to have a good relationship with your significant other when it comes to your horse, but not all relationships are cut from the same cloth. Find a resolution system that works best for you and your significant other, and you might find that reaching that middle ground is a little easier than you originally thought.