The problem with both my husband and I being horse people is sharing.
For some, sharing comes easy at home. It’s “our” TV, it’s “our” movie collection, etc. However it’s not so easy when it comes to horses, horse equipment and differing needs.
One of the things we have had to figure out is how to navigate sharing horse items and even the horse. Jack quickly became more “my” horse than his horse. At 14.3 hands, he’s perfect for my 5’0″ height with no legs, but not so good for my husband’s 5’9″ legs that go on forever. Also, just sharing is hard. You can’t exactly ride together if you only have one horse.
That was when Guinness came into our lives. At over 16 hands, he’s the perfect height for my husband and he’s also just a general sweetheart, but also a fun ride. He looks smashing in a English saddle which is exactly what he likes to ride in. And Guinness needed someone who could give him ride time. Problem solved.
However the difficulty of sharing comes into play even with our tack trunk. Hoof conditioners, fly spray, shampoo – they all never last very long. But we’ve started figuring out how to work things out and who uses what more. The only problem left to tackle is when he doesn’t leave things in the same spot I left them!
We may have had to figure out a lot of things, but with communication, we have. It’s also a great lesson for our marriage and how to make sure both of our needs are fulfilled and we’re both happy. And I’m one proud wife when I see him riding and achieving his goals.
I think my husband would love me writing a blog post on this. You see, unlike in Europe, men riding English have a horrendous time riding riding clothes in the United States. Somewhere over the years between the Revolutionary War and the 1700s and now, we as a culture as Americans have forgotten that men can ride English too. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of high level and high achieving men at the Olympic and Grand Prix level. They do exist, but I get off topic.
When searching popular sites for horseback riding clothes such as SmartPak, Dover, and even local tack shops, men’s apparel practically does not exist. At our local Dover, he has not even a full rack of men’s clothes and that includes breeches and tops. There are some breeches (but if you want another color beside tan, you’re done for), but almost no polos. They practically do not exist. When he finds a polo on a website or in a store, he almost always jumps on it especially if it’s on sale. Otherwise he just can’t find them.
Since when did riding English become an almost all-female sport in the U.S.? Why does it matter if he’s a man who enjoys riding in the English saddle? He should have the same opportunities for clothing as we females do.
Now I know the stores’ side of it. The market is small. There are not as many men who ride English as women especially up here in the Northeast (though the national chains aren’t much better.) However how can you really tell the market if you offer absolutely no products for them? It’s almost as bad as the plus-sized market for women in our sport.
As an equestrian wife who also rides and happens to usually fall in the more plus-sized clothing market (I’m right between. It’s annoying.), I feel for him. I know the struggles. And I hope slowly just maybe it will change and brands will offer more plus-sized and men’s clothing because not all equestrians are a breeches size 26 and some of us happen to be men too. The plus-sized market has certainly grown in the last few years as the demand has become more obvious and women have spoken up.
For now, all I can do is support him and be a good wife and help him find clothes as much as I can. And if anyone has suggestions on how to find a decent selection of men’s clothing, please leave me a comment. I am always open to help navigating this.
I have officially found my new favorite product for Jack.
Photo courtesy of State Line Tack
This is the Aloe Advantage Enhanced Detangling Conditioner. It can be found on State Line Tack for $7.09. The description describes the product as:
“All-Natural Pro Series creme formula enriched with Aloe vera and Panthenol for maximum absorption. Detangles as it conditions deeply to repair and protect the hair shaft. May be used as a detangling conditioner and leave-in moisturizer or as a finishing rinse. Prevents broken and split ends without leaving a buildup. Trigger spray allows for even coverage and creme texture prevents runoff. Also great to remove loose hair, mats and tangles on dogs and cats. Long lasting for horse, hound and rider.
- All-Natural Formula
- Contains Aloe Vera, a natural humectant, to gently balance without leaving a buildup or causing skin irritation
- Protein fills chips and splits in hair, and tames split ends and “frizzies”
- Makes hair shiny, manageable and full of body for a free flowing mane and tail
- May be used as a finishing rinse or as a leave-in moisturizing and detangling conditioner
- For use on horses, dogs, cats and people”
I purchased it from my local barn tack shop, Birch Tree Tack. The reason this is my new favorite product was after I used it on Jack’s tail. Anyone that has met him knows he has the most full, insane amount of tail. (Not that I complain!)
If you can tell in the bottom picture, his tail is so curly and frizzy, you can’t even see his back legs! And this was after two hours of detangling with Cowboy Magic.
However it is almost one of the frizziest, craziest things to maintain ever. Usually it’s braided up and tied up in a tail bag, but taking it down for shows used to take me hours. I had to sit there with him on the crossties attempting to detangle the mess of hair. I used Cowboy Magic. I had started falling in love with Canter Mane & Tail. The Canter was doing better than the Cowboy Magic, but the Aloe Advantage gets the top prize.
The day before my dressage show last weekend, I spritzed some of the Aloe Advantage into his tail and brushed it through. I then braided it up into a loose braid for overnight to take down in the morning. Thinking “Ok, let’s give this a shot.”
The next morning I took his tail down. It was flat! It laid perfectly, it was shiny and soft and the shavings that had gotten into it came right out. And it’s been perfect since. No fighting with it. No hours of detangling. Nothing. Needless to say I was amazed and have started using it on his mane and forelock which is also a frizzy mess.
I 100% recommend this product to those who fight with tangles in their horse’s mane or tail. I do not have a dog so I haven’t tried it on one and I haven’t tried it on myself…yet. I am certainly looking forward to continue using this leave-in spray conditioner on Jack!
Note: I purchased this product on my own accord and did not receive anything for this review.
Jack, who has been under saddle for less than a year now, was broken Western. Its secure seat has given both my trainer and I better control and stability while handling some very “baby” moments.
After I was gifted a dressage saddle, I really realized my focus was in making Jack into a dressage horse. I had done some dressage tests before myself and absolutely love patterns. The best part about the sport is exactly what the word dressage means; training. It’s the perfect opportunity to teach Jack how to handle himself and how to behave.
At the end of September, we will be entering our first Western Dressage competition together. We then have another one in October and then November. After that, we will be transitioning to traditional dressage over the winter.
For some reason, the “magic” of dressage has really hit me more than jumping ever had. The circles, the bends, the shoulder-ins, the extended trot, I love all of it. So now we begin the basics of dressage with Jack before the September show; rounding out his turns and circles and perfecting our trot being consistent and a nice free rein. I’m sure I’ll have more blog entries in the future about this endeavor!
One of the things my husband and I take on every week is a selection of barn chores. From mucking out stalls, watering, feeding and typical clean up, the extra money is a nice touch for our monthly bill. But it also takes an incredible amount of teamwork to be able to accomplish.
Picture this: 11 stalls of horses needing to be mucked out. Twenty-four horses to feed lunch to. Sweeping, emptying the garbage, and watering to be done in as much time as you actually want to spend doing it. So hence, accomplish the task as efficiently as possible.
Being two people instead of one does definitely works to our advantage. But when we’re cold in the winter or hot in the summer, barn chores can make anyone a bit testy. We do sometimes snap at each other. But it’s how we work through that snappiness that counts.
Eventually after a few weeks of doing chores we started really bonding as a team. We divide the tasks for the day and switch off when one of us gets tired or needs a break. We have figured out a way to work around each other and to take advantage of each other’s strengths and it’s only helped our marriage.
This teamwork and bonding is applied to other things in our life such as household chores. He goes to the laundromat, I fold the laundry. He does hand washing, I load and unload the dishwasher. We both switch off cleaning out the cat box. And when one of us is feeling overwhelmed, we aren’t worried about talking it over and communicating why we feel how we do.
Vacuuming may not be as time consuming as lugging around hay bales and wheelbarrows full of manure, but how we deal with both of them is the same. It’s the same foundation and building blocks to a good relationship.
Summer can drive any horse owner crazy. The amount of flys, gnats, horseflys and mosquitos attacking our animals is frustrating. It can ruin an entire ride, especially if an angry horsefly is after you! One of my favorite new products to use on Jack before saddling up is Pyranha’s No-Bite Fly Spray. It comes in a green bottle and it also works to repel ticks. New England has had a huge uptick in ticks this year so I definitely wanted to make sure my fly spray offered some protection.
My only complaint with this fly spray is the bottle top. The sprayer comes out more like a vicious stream than a healthy mist and my horse didn’t love this. I had to change the top or put it in another spray bottle.
To purchase, go to Pyranha, Inc. and find your local dealer. Most Tractor Supplys and other such stores do often carry Pyranha products.
(I was in no way paid or given free product to write this review.)
With springtime finally coming to New England, the discussion is now on show season. In a fortunate-unfortunate scenario, both my husband and I enjoy showing. The problem? Sharing a horse. We began negotiations about how to work show season out and eventually came to a compromise.
The key to the answer was simply the fact that I am currently riding Jack while my husband is not yet. However, since Jack hasn’t been off property yet or to a larger show, he will be entered into a lot of in-hand classes. While I can be anxious on show days, my husband is cool as a cucumber. Therefore, he will take Jack into the in-hand classes while I will ride him in Green Horse Walk/Trot once he’s ready for it.
Now most horse couples aren’t like us in this sense. Husbands typically aren’t your showing type. The trick to having a husband during show season is to not just make your husband your servant. Yes, he can be a good groom or hold your horse, but he also needs to feel appreciated. Make sure to pack snacks and sunscreen and give him breaks too. Let him decide what he wants to be responsible for. Don’t order him around.
I know shows can be stressful, but remember at the end of the day no matter the color of your ribbon, your husband is going home with you. Sometimes it’s good to put your marriage before your showing.
My husband and I are very unique in our work schedules. He works early days while I work what I call 1.5 shift (not quite second shift, but just about.) I also work Sunday-Thursday while he works your typical Monday-Friday shift. Although some people would balk at these schedules, there are definitely some pros and cons – especially being a horse family.
The big con of course is the fact that we really have to cherish our time together. We see each other for a sliver of time when I come home before we go to bed and then from Friday evening when he’s out of work to Sunday afternoon when I go in.
However there are pros when it comes to horse time. During the weekdays, I will visit the barn in the mornings and see our gelding, Captain Jack. It’s my own special time with a good deal of piece and quiet at the barn since lessons are usually later and most people are at work.
My husband tends to go in the evenings after work if he can or Sundays while I’m at work. It’s his time to spend with Jack and also have some time to himself. We both use our free time to get chores done around the house and run errands.
On weekends, we tend to visit the barn together at least once a weekend. We take Jack out together, exercise him, groom him and just enjoy him. It’s nice to have the occasional “us” time with him.
It’s taken us a good bit of time to work this out. Our differing work schedules have taken a lot of adjustment, a lot of compromise and a lot of trial and error. Now that it is figured out though, it works out very smoothly. It’s not ideal in any way, but for us, it works.
The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post from one of my horse friends. It detailed examples of how a guy could be a “horse husband.” It pretty much said a man must wait on his wife hand and foot at shows, at home, holding your horse, constantly feeding you, being supportive, etc. The thing is, this post kind of made me angry.
A relationship — whether between your horse and you or your husband and you — is a two-way street. It’s not a black and white, I am your queen and you listen to my every orders. I don’t think that would really work on my husband or my gelding quite frankly. But the post made me think. How many wives struggle balancing their life as a wife and an equestrian?
It can be difficult to figure out if it’s more important to go to the barn to work your horse or stay at home and do the chores. It’s a constant push and pull game as you work to balance work, home life and barn life.
Now I know I don’t have kids (not human children anyway) and that brings in a whole new equation. However this blog is going to be my attempt at helping women like me to figure out the best way to do well in the show ring and in your home.
And the journey begins now.