I would venture to say most female equestrians dream of this ideal horse show boyfriend who brings you Starbucks, holds your horse, and tells you how great you did (even if you went off course). After years of bringing boyfriends to the barn as they tentatively pet my horse’s nose (and my horse rudely pesters them for treats), I found my horse-loving match on another sweaty, smelly, horse-hair covered day.

I spent the summer of 2014 grooming at A-rated hunter-jumper horse shows for the first time in my life. As a dressage rider who came from open 4H shows, I had quite the rude awakening, but was loving every second of it. All of July was spent working for Top Call Farm in up north Michigan at the show series formerly known as ‘Horse Shows by the Bay’ – now called ‘Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.’

Chris had been working for Top Call for eight years and was coming to finish out the fourth week of the show in Traverse City. We worked side by side all week (and stole a few summer kisses at night). Chris knew his way around the show, around the horses, and around the tack room, even more so than I did – I had never met a male who could groom a horse better than I could. The show ended on my 20th birthday, we spent the day packing up wall boxes and wrapping horses’ legs to be shipped home, and headed our separate ways back to our southern areas of Michigan.

A year and two months later, I get to ‘talk horses’ with the same awesome guy – and let me tell you, it truly is awesome to date someone who loves horses as much as you do!

  • I’m still caught off guard when we’re watching a horse go and Chris says, “He’s a nice mover.” I always sputter over my words a bit before agreeing that it has a really nice trot.
  • One of my horses was a hunter retiree turned dressage – I’m pretty sure he was happier to have Chris hunt him around than he ever was to have me collect him.
  • Whenever I come back from the barn reeking like horse and say “I’m sorry, I probably smell pretty bad,” he says, “Like I care, you know I like how horses smell!” And takes a big wiff of my horse-scented hair.
  • Chris’s favorite grooming tool are those mits with the funny bumps on each side, so I make a point to try to keep one in his wallbox when we’re grooming together.
  • Once he saw my garment bag that had my show clothes in it thrown into the back of my car and said, “…Shouldn’t you hang that up?” Now that’s the kind of person I need in my life.
  • Chris always names his pets after rappers (I don’t know why) and he wants a jumper named Wiz Khalifa. Talk about goals.
  • There’s something strangely attractive about a guy with a really nice horse in hand.

Dating someone who gets just as excited about going to the barn as you do is truly the best. If you have a chance, go for it! They do more than just hold your horse and bring you nice coffees.

Photo credit: Ashely McLaughlin

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