You swiped right. You texted a few times. You actually met in person and he’s not a total creep. Weeks go by and you still like hanging out with this guy, maybe almost as much as your horse. At this point, he knows you’re an equestrian. (After all, he swiped right after looking at all those jumping photos, too.)

So things are getting pretty serious.

He’s probably asked about it already: “So, when do I get to meet your horse?”

When to introduce your new boyfriend to your horse, the barn, and your barn family is a decision that must be made with great care. This could be a make-or-break moment in any early and budding relationship.

It’s natural to feel excited, and maybe a bit nervous, about bringing a new boyfriend to the barn. Your horse and the sport are a big part of your life. It’s important that any potential romantic partner you share your time with understands and is supportive of that.

But on the opposite end, this could be pretty overwhelming for a dude who knows nothing about horses or the horse world we live in. Here are some tips to make sure that first trip to the barn isn’t a total disaster.

Take it slow. If your new guy asks about meeting your horse directly, that’s a good sign. He’s showing an interest in the things that matter most to you. Talk about it a few times and maybe start mentally preparing him for what to expect (i.e., manure, slobbering horse lips, lots of girls and maybe an overprotective trainer.)

Go on a quiet day. This may be harder at some farms than others, but it’s worth considering bringing him to the barn on a day when there’s not too much activity. As in, not the day before a horse show, when people are clogging the aisle while clipping their horses, parents and kids are running around, and there are a dozen horses in the arena for last minute lessons and show prep. Pick a morning or afternoon you know will be quiet and when you’ll have the barn mostly to yourself.

Don’t embarrass him. It’s safe to say that this new guy probably isn’t going to know a halter from a hoof pick. That’s cool, you’ll teach him. But don’t laugh in his face when he makes stupid comments or asks obvious questions. Remember, this is a good sign. It sounds like he wants to learn more about the hobby or activity that makes you happiest. Be kind when you explain to him what it is you do.

Keep it casual. Remember, this dude still has to meet your dad one day. Don’t build up this first-time interaction with your horse to be some monumental occasion. It’s OK if your horse pins his ears at him the first time. Let him feed your horse a carrot and pet him at his own pace. This doesn’t have to be an all-day occasion, either. It’s fine if your guy is a little afraid of your horse too… It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And he’ll get better at this, I promise.

Keep the door open for next time. OK, so he survived the dreaded first-time meeting with maybe just one nip at the shoulder and nice big slobber stain on his dress shirt. That’s not too shabby. Maybe offer for him to come watch your lesson next time. Or if he seemed brazen enough, offer to give him a pony ride around the arena on your horse one day. If this new boyfriend is truly into you, then he understands that this was the first of what will likely be many trips to the barn to see you and your horse.