by Alan Phlipot
I am a real horse husband. I met my now wife 6 years ago while she was in college and I a recent graduate. When we first started dating, I knew nothing about horses. All I knew was that they were big and scared the crap out of me.
Shortly after starting, dating my wife and I had a very serious conversation. She wanted to make sure that I knew where horses stood in her life. She told me horses would always come first and me second. Her reasoning: because I can feed and clean up after myself and horses cannot. From that point on I knew that if I wanted to be in my wife’s life I would have to muster up the courage and be around the animals that scared me.
I started by spending many long hours at the barn watching her clean stalls, clip horses, and ride. Eventually I figured that if I was going to be there I might as well help and maybe we can get out of here faster… and that’s what started it all. I would clean buckets and carry in shavings bags. Then I moved onto cleaning some stalls and eventually bathing. Shortly after my wife graduated, we got married and decided to move back to Michigan where she was from. This is when I really learned how much hard work it took to make a relationship work in the horse world.
We visited farms to board at and eventually sat down to weigh our options and picked one. The barn was about 20 minutes from where we lived and that became a big problem. There were many days when I wouldn’t see my wife until 8-9 PM. I would get up and leave for work around 6 AM and get home at 5 PM but she would be at the barn already. It put a lot of strain on the relationship so we had to come up with some compromises. This meant me shifting my work schedule and then going to the barn with her. It wasn’t much better but at least we were there together.
After a year of boarding we were lucky enough to find our current property. My wife’s dream was to have her own farm. Projects we have completed are: new barn with an indoor riding arena, outdoor riding arena, new shelters in winter turnouts, and new fencing for all turnouts. Many times these projects seemed never ending and I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing it. I was never the outdoor guy. I hated cutting grass and now we have 18 acres to up keep. It has been a slow process but I have learned so much and now my wife is showing again and so now I am learning lunge and read courses.
I still don’t ride, which some people don’t understand, but I can watch a horse and rider and find small mistakes that need corrected. Many of my wife’s friends ask her and I how they can find a guy like me or if I will train their boyfriend or husband to do the things that I do. I always give them the same response. I can teach them if they want to learn but they should always be upfront about their love for horses and what their goals are in life. I knew that from the start and now I enjoy the life I have and can’t wait to leave the office to go work on the farm.
I am more than willing to share my experiences on any topic HJU readers would like to hear about, so please post them in the comments.
Gardian Farm LLC