October 31, 2010
I wrote this article entitled “Silent Partner” which was published in USDF Connection magazine in 2006. I love the article (my one and only “publishing” ever!) and thought I would re-post it here. Looking at my life now compared to 2006 things are even busier…two horses (one young one needing lots of training and one older one needing lots of care!), an up-start business, and two kids who have lives of their own with school, sports and friends....Whew!! I need to go give my husband a big hug!!!! [U][B]Silent Partner[/B][/U] Like a lot of Amateur Dressage riders, I have a very full life away from the barn: two kids, a career, and a husband. My career gets my full attention 30 hours a week (I have to pay the board bill, after all) and my kids and my horse get most of my remaining waking hours. That, of course, leaves one very important person out of the mix. I know a lot of women riders whose husbands love to come and watch them ride and show. I even have a friend whose husband helps her muck stalls and tack up and cool down horses on his days off. I don’t have one of those kinds of husbands. My husband, Eric, likes to boast he couldn’t pick out my horse from a field of two. He has actually responded (several times) to the question “what level does your wife ride?” with “Um, fifth, I think.” That would make sense to a non-dressage person, I suppose, if you took into account the training and lesson bills over the years. However, my horse and I are actually riding First Level. Eric does have a pretty good excuse for his lack of equine involvement: a documented allergy to horses. His allergist advises that, when I come home from the barn, I should remove all my clothes in the garage (“Hello, Neighbor!”) and go directly to the shower before even saying hello. I have tried to be good, but I still often send Eric into a sneezing fit when I return from a ride. One might expect that, given all of this, Eric would be pretty bitter about my horse habit. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite. I consider my husband my biggest supporter. To five me the time to get out and ride, he alters his schedule so that he can watch the kids. He always asks with genuine interest how my rides went. He at least pretends to try to understand my frustration with my horse and things like the leg-yield. He attempts to justify my passion to our friends and family, even though, like many riders, I have gotten hurt doing it and it definitely cramps our style financially. Most of all, he willingly tolerates my love for the “other man” in my life, which not many husbands are secure enough to deal with. Often, when I am showing, it makes me sad to see all the “horse show husbands” waiting outside the ring with their boot rags and cameras. When I feel this way, I have to remind myself how much my husband supports me behind the scenes. He happily takes charge of my kids on the weekends that I am gone at a dressage show and is smiling and in a good mood when I return, tired and smelly from the day. I know that, even if he doesn’t have a clue about what is really involved in this thing called Dressage, I could never do it without him.