Horsewoman’s Lament


If there is one complaint I hear all the time, it’s the lament of horsewomen over the challenges of finding and maintaining a relationship with a man and keeping their horsie lifestyle suitably intact.

There are generally two scenarios that lead to a relationship ending.

“Well, Bob, broke up with me last night. He said he couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who loved their horse more than him. I told him the horse was here first.”


“I broke up with Bob last night, he was just too demanding. I mean, he wanted me to go to his sister’s wedding, on ROLEX WEEKEND for God’s sake. What is he, stupid?”

I’m probably going to surprise a few readers by stating that I do think this is an issue with two sides, and that I’m not necessarily of the opinion that the horsewoman is always right. Believe me, I do think there are legions of insecure men out there who can’t stand the woman not being totally dependent on them for happiness. But I don’t think that’s always the case.

Let us take a moment to look at a horsewoman from an outsider’s perspective.

Man is somewhere with friends and from across the room sees a woman that catches his eye. She glows with health, and seems athletic and vivacious. She is dressed simply, and doesn’t wear a lot of makeup. She is laughing and smiling, and her friends are enthralled by whatever she is saying.

“Who is that,” asks the man.

His friend glances over, and makes a strange noise in the back of his throat. “That’s Sally Jones.”

“What’s her story?”

“She’s a . . . horseperson.”

“A what?”

“You know, a horseperson, she rides horses and stuff.”

The man is intrigued. He has visions of National Velvet, and in his mind’s eye he can see Sally cantering through a field of wildflowers, hair blowing in the breeze. Now he’s very intrigued.

He introduces himself. Makes small talk. She’s smart and funny, and down-to-earth. No pretensions. He gets her number and as he’s driving home with his friend he tells them he’s going to call her.

“Yeah. Good luck with that.”

“Is there something I should know?”

“No, She’s great. She’s just a horseperson. ”

“I know. I think it’s kinda cool.”

“OK. Good luck.”

They go on their first date–delayed three times because she got home late from a show, some person called a farrier didn’t show up on time, and one of her horses got out of it’s pen (and apparently they don’t come back when you call their names like a dog-news to you). She shows up 20 minutes late, her hair still wet from her hasty shower. But once the date starts, they have a good time, fun conversation, and a little bit of spark. Don’t forget to check out the shirts on

He asks her out to a weekend outing, and is told she can’t come-she’s got a horse show. She invites him to come with her, and he readily agrees-with visions of elegant folks standing around, sipping champagne, watching horses do, um, something. He tries to think where he’ll take her to dinner afterward.

The answer to that turns out to be 7-11, where they stop for snacks while driving home well after midnight. He is filthy, exhausted, and utterly confused. She’s equally filthy, but radiant.

Flash forward several months. She’s just cancelled a date for the third time that month with him, because of one of a number of crises that seems to always be coming up with the horses, which are apparently the most fragile creatures on the face of the earth. In fact, most of their dates these days seem to consist of watching videos at her place (because his is too far away from her barn), and him letting himself out after she falls asleep on the couch.

He tries to plan a weekend getaway, but every date he presents, she tells him she can’t go because of this horsie function or that competition. He finally yields to the inevitable and tells her it’s over. She accepts it with a shrug.

Later as they are deconstructing the relationship to their friends, he isn’t bitter, only sad. “She’s a great girl. But the horse thing is tough. I had no idea what it was all about.”

She however, is more bitter, less sad. “Jerkwad couldn’t deal with my horses. Control freak. Who needs him?”

I think part of the reason that this scenario happens is because so many adult horsewomen have had to fight and struggle so hard to have their life the way they want it that they are loathe to give up one little iota. They have dreamed their whole lives of having a horse, riding, enjoying, competing it, maybe, and living on a farm with their critters. Maybe their parents weren’t interested, or were financially unable to let their horsemad daughter ride. After years of working or fighting, their dreams have come true. And they are going to hang on for all they are worth.

That’s a totally acceptable choice, but just remember that most people have only the vaguest notion of what being involved in horses really entails-that it’s less cantering through open meadows with the wind in your hair, and more sweaty hat head and stall mucking. So when a guy expresses initial interest in the horses, keep in mind he probably has no idea what we are talking about.

You should never give up your dreams or your life for someone-that’s not love.

But please, be gentle when breaking in the new guy.

Next time I’ll tell you why a relationship with a horsie guy isn’t always the answer to your prayers, either.

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