Some of us dream of finding a partner who is equally enthralled with horses. We have visions of riding together, laughing over sweet nothings as we fling poop out of our horses’ stalls simultaneously, and competing at the same shows but not against each other. (That could be dicey.)
And then there are those who prefer to have a super non-horsey partner, thank you very much. Count me in that group.
When I first met my husband, he was big into the local tennis scene. His mantle and shelves were lined with trophies and plaques, shining like beacons of testosterone-fueled glory for all to see. I was in awe of his athleticism and intensity on the court, and I was ever the supportive girlfriend – and then wife – at all of his matches and tournaments.
After a while, I thought I might like to play a set or two with him sometime, so I asked him to teach me.
With every set, my lack of coordination on the ground became more and more apparent, and he was unfailingly impatient with me. It was as if I should have emerged from the womb with the knowledge of how to return a serve with a massive backspin on it. You know, like him.
We soon gave up the charade. And when I started riding again for the first time since I was a teenager, I was elated to have an athletic endeavor to call my own. I could fail on my own without watchful eyes!
When I started showing in the teeny-tiny local baby hunter classes, the jumps were tripping hazards more than anything else. But, I was riding and showing again, and I was over the moon to be doing it. I had a horse, though wonderful, who was a bit too much horse and wholly unsuitable for me at the time (hindsight and all that). So even though those local shows had, well, really low bars at times – literally and figuratively – we still crashed and burned a lot.
My husband had to hear about this a lot. With glazed-over eyes, he listened as I explained how horribly we did and how upset I was. He did his duty in comforting me, but I could feel the tennis star in him dripping with disappointment that I didn’t also have my own wall of trophies. And then came these words out of his mouth: “Are you sure you want to be doing this? It doesn’t seem to be going so well for you. Just like tennis, actually…”
At that moment, I welled up with the most competitive spirit I had ever had to that point in life, or might ever have again. I vowed to show him that I, too, did not suck.
The next show, I had my chance. I came home with second-place and third-place ribbons. I was so proud, telling him how well we’d done, and that our hard work was finally paying off. We were legit. I could feel how proud he was, and we celebrated with wine.
What I didn’t tell him is that there were only two of us and three of us in those classes, respectively. Creative truthfulness for the win.
At the next show, he decided to come watch and see our awesomeness in person. He was all smiles and support as we groomed, got ready and warmed up. He applauded and cheered for our sub-par round, as he didn’t really know what was going on.
And then came the hack class, where all two of us went in. I swear, I could feel his jaw drop.
After the class was over and I collected my second-place ribbon, I felt his eyes narrow on me as we exited the arena with my horse jigging sideways.
“Second place, huh? Mmm-hmm. Congraaaaaaaaats.”
I cringed heavily. And then he busted out laughing. I had been found out, and my days of fudging my ribbons were over. Thereafter, he would always ask, “But how many were in the class?”
So those without horsey significant others, cherish those opportunities for creative riding white lies. Y’all with boyfriends who ride can keep ’em. I’ll take blissful ignorance any day.