How to Deal with a Horse-Crazy Wife

I tricked my husband into marrying me. You see, when we were dating, I wasn't into horses. I had been as a kid but got out of horses in my twenties to pursue school and a career. After we had been married about two years, I woke up one morning with a radical epiphany. There was a void in my life, a big black hole, and that void was horses. That very day I got a job at a barn mucking stalls, began riding again, and a year later purchased my own horse.

My husband was understandably blind-sided by these developments. All of a sudden the wife who liked pedicures and spray tans traded her stilettos for muddy riding boots.The change in apparel was just the beginning. I frequently spent hours at a time at the barn and when I came home, I was engrossed in the latest issue of Practical Horseman or 101 Exercises for the Dressage Rider. My spending habits changed as well. I dropped hundreds of dollars on saddles, riding clothes, supplements, board and vet expenses and even had my swanky SUV rigged up to pull a horse trailer. I was absolutely and completely obsessed.

My obsession soon caused problems in my marriage and I had to learn how to manage my condition of horse craziness in order to avoid being divorced. My husband has learned that horses are a permanent fixture in the landscape of our life together and he has made adjustments as well. The three of us are now happily married, me, my husband and my horse. So let me give some advice to the husband who finds himself wearily tolerating his wife's equine mania.

First, accept it. If your wife is truly horse crazy, her condition is permanent. The first step on the road to happiness is acceptance of the fact that horses are going to be around, in some capacity, forever. If you push her to sell the horse, or quit the riding lessons, or get a new, less expensive hobby, you're only going to create a very unhappy wife. I'm telling you, if you make her choose between you and the horse, you may find yourself a single man.

Second, find a way to compromise. Set some ground rules. For example, she is not allowed to go to the barn right before date night because you prefer her to smell like perfume instead of horse while you're out to dinner. You have to allow her to do what she loves, but you as her husband should be able to set some boundaries. Your wife will not understand what is so offensive about the smell of horse, because she loves it. To her it smells like honeysuckles in summertime. You will have to remind her that you do not suffer from the condition of equine mania. This should make sense to her, depending on how badly she's afflicted. Once the two of you can agree on the limits of her craziness, you should be able to live peacefully.

Third, support her. Go to the barn every now and then. You can prove to her barn friends that you do exist and she hasn't been making you up all these years. She will be delighted to see you! If she has a horse show, offer to go and take pictures. Every once in a while, ask her, "So, how is your horse doing?" She will give you a funny look and then say lots of phrases you won't understand, like "He's finally accepting contact and going on the bit" or "He jumped a bounce today and then cleared a double oxer!" If she's smiling, you should smile too. Any effort on your part to take an interest in the thing she loves more than anything (other than you, of course) will be appreciated. You will find that your willingness to participate in her obsession will inspire her to put a little extra effort into making you happy. She will feel so lucky to have a husband who actually likes horses!

Finally, do not fight her efforts to turn your children into horse people. If they were not born with the condition, then no amount of prodding and encouragement on her part will turn them into horse people. If they are, there's nothing you can do about it anyway. Just humor her. But don't be surprised if your daughter's Christmas list has only one word- PONY.

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