Are Horses Causing A Strain On Your Relationship(s)?
When is the last time you had an argument with your significant other (or any loved one) about you spending too much time at the stable? You’re not alone! Horses can cause a strain on your relationships and for many different reasons.
Some girls (and guys) grow up to marry the cowboy (or cowgirl) of their horsy dreams, but for many of us equestrians it’s a non-equestrian who we meet and fall in love with. In the fantasy world I like to reside in, all equestrian partners would take up a passion for horses—but in reality, this is far from what typically happens. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the people who love you most to occasionally daydream about dumping manure in your stable shoes. It’s basic human nature. When one partner has a strong passion for something that takes up a lot of their time, money, and energy, it’s only natural for the other partner to get a little frustrated now and again.
At first, I thought my husband was sure to fall in love with horses. After all, he’s the perfect candidate—he likes animals, he enjoys being outdoors, and he’s naturally comfortable and confident around horses. Even with all this going for him, and a good deal of persistence on my part, he’s not one bit interested in becoming obsessed with horses. About once every-other-weekend he comes up to the barn with me, puts on a good face and helps me out with my never-ending list of ‘strong man chores’ and poop shoveling. While he’s happy to help where he can, I know he’s only doing it for me. He doesn’t find serenity in mucking stalls or endless joy basking in a horse’s company. That’s my thing, and I totally get that (although I’ll never stop wishing he’ll wake up one day loving horses so much he wants one too).
Why Horses Cause Tension in Relationships
In a healthy relationship, it’s perfectly normal for both partners to have their own side hobbies and pleasures. The trouble with horses is that they are not a side hobby, especially when horse ownership is involved. Owning horses means spending at least a few hours a day at the barn; cleaning, feeding, exercising, etc. A normal hobby, say playing tennis, generally takes up a much smaller snap of your day. And unless you compete, it’s just not a big deal if you can’t make it out to the tennis court everyday. It’s not so simple to ditch the barn when you have a living, breathing horse waiting for you.
Horses don’t just take a lot of time, they cost a lot of money too. Horses hog up a good portion of any middle-class budget, which can cause hard feelings from those not enjoying the perks of all the money spent. After all, the annual cost of owning a horse is enough to go on a fairly fancy vacation for two. I imagine those hard feelings are further compounded when the non-horse-loving partner is footing the bill.
In addition, a horse is a pet but it’s not typically a ‘family pet’ like a dog, bird, fish, cat—or any animal who lives in the home and the family gets to know and love. Horses live in barns away from the house, which can create a detachment for non-equestrian family members who can’t possibly get to know and love your horse’s unique personality like you do. Therefore, when you go on and on about your horse(s), loved ones can easily lack compassion and understanding because they know the horse but they don’t know the horse.
Working Towards Compromise
My husband is extremely laidback and pretty supportive of my equestrian lifestyle, but even he can get a little uppity about all the time and money I spend on horses. Sure, sometimes I get annoyed that he’s annoyed, but I also have a lot of compassion for him. When I step into his shoes, I get it. And I’ve found that being open minded to the feelings of my non-equestrian partner helps relieve some of the tension, allowing us both to openly express our feelings to one another instead of keeping them inside until they explode.
Tips for Reducing Relationship Strain Caused by Horse Ownership
- Sometimes, non-equestrians don’t get the special bond us equestrians share with our horses. It might seem silly, but I’ve found it helps to explain how important horses are to you. Don’t forget to mention how they make you a better (more enjoyable) person to be around!
- Let your partner know that your horse is an animal and requires a certain level of care to remain healthy and happy–and to give you peace of mind, no horse-lovers wants to feel like a horse abuser.
- Hire help or ask a horse friend to get your horse out and conduct other stable chores certain days of the week to free up some of your time. Relationships are about compromise and spending too much time with horses can ruin your relationship if you’re not willing to make enough time for your loved one.
- Work together to create a schedule for going to the barn that works for both of you, and perhaps helps you find more time to spend together.