How to Train Your Horse Show Spouse: Advanced Level

All in good fun, Meagan DeLisle has been documenting the “training” so to speak of her horse show husband Wayne, cherishing all the moments they’ve spent together with her all-consuming passion.

After Wayne passed what I considered to be the intermediate level in his horse show spouse training, I definitely knew we were about to face some adversity. As with any equestrian challenge, moving up to advanced is quite scary and requires a certain amount of dedication. While it took a little longer, I am happy to say that Wayne has received his advanced card and that his “training” is finally complete. He has learned a lot through this process but all in all, I think I learned even more than he did. Without further ado I present to you our final leg of the journey.

Step One: Always Foster a Positive Learning Environment

Like the green horse, your horse show spouse in training will thrive when set in a positive and educational environment. The things we do seem crazy if you don’t understand why we do them, so I try and make everything into a lesson for Wayne to learn from. I have truly found he enjoys participating more when he knows what the heck I am doing and why the heck I am doing it.

He can pretend like he doesn’t like horses all he wants….but when I can snap this photo when he isn’t looking it is forever proof that he does. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

Anytime Wayne tags alongside as the ever helpful groom/photographer/shoulder to cry on I always try to expand on the task at hand. Teaching Wayne the appropriate way to groom was a much larger obstacle than one would think… he figured all he needed to do was grab the closest brush in the tack box and go to town, only to get frustrated that even after all his hard work Joey still looked dirty. “How do you make him look so clean?!” he exclaimed as a cloud of dust engulfed his head.

I tried not to giggle as I explained that each and every brush in the tack box had a purpose and a time to use it (to which he said, “yeah yeah you say the same thing about all the junk under the bathroom sink”). We forget how the simple stuff used to be a challenge, like learning how to get a difficult horse to lift his foot for hoof picking or fly spraying an anxious horse. You just have to keep things fun and laid back, even when you are at a show and running late because your husband accidentally sprayed show sheen all over your horse instead of fly spray and now your saddle keeps slipping…

Step Two: Reward Them for Their Efforts

As you move onto more challenging obstacles, the best thing you can do is remind your spouse how much you appreciate the time they take to help you out. Many of you know that somehow I managed to convince Wayne to allow us to attend Rolex this year for our anniversary. While there, a good friend of mine was doing a breed demonstration and found herself needing a helping hand. Drenched in sweat because this year Kentucky decided to unleash the heat on all of its Rolex-attendees, Wayne and I made our way to the ring to help out Victoria however we could.

And that wound up being setting up jumps.

Poor Wayne had never set fences before, but he toted the VERY sturdy (that is my nice way of saying ridiculously heavy) standards to the middle of the ring and helped me get them set up for Victoria’s initial jumps. Once she gave us the thumbs up, we would raise the poles up another hole and Wayne got to use his “perfectionist” tendencies to his advantage.

If his day job doesn’t work out, Wayne could have a future working in a jump crew. Photo by Heidi Rockhold Photography

Not one grain of sand was out of place near those jumps and Victoria’s breed demonstration on Repeat the Beat went fantastically. Of course after already hijacking our anniversary and turning it into a royal horse escapade that led him to carry around tons of heavy bags all day, I knew I had to let him have his fun. So off to the Land Rover demo ride we went, with a brief pause at the Beer Garden so he could down a glass of craft beer, and then I let him oogle all of the stores in the area that carried Carhart clothing and we went to every single one (even though they all carried the same. darn. stuff).

Step Three: Find Time Away

It is easy to get to the barn or a clinic or a show and get sucked into the environment. That being said, we can easily abuse the help from our beloved horse show significant other and the most loving thing we can do at times is step away. As equestrians, that is always hard for us. Our lives are centered around our four legged friends but for our own health and the good of our relationship it is important to enjoy other activities together as well.

Even though we have a good time together at equine events, Wayne still deserves some time away from the horse world. Photo by Meagan DeLisle

Take one night a month and put your phones down, stop looking at for sale ads and tack traders, inform your barn friends that you are on call only that night and just be with one another. We love to go see movies (bonus points if the movie has a horse in it so that I can get my exploding desire to talk about horses out of the way in a sneaky fashion) or get out with friends. Yes, it is difficult, but it is worth it to just be away from our life consuming passion.

And as much as I want Wayne there, I try not to have Wayne attend every single event I go to because I don’t want to bore him or burn him out. I never want him to feel like I take advantage of his ever helpful nature (besides, you have to teach the pony kids to carry their weight while they are young) and he deserves some time away from his horse crazy spouse.

Step Four: Cross Your Fingers and Pray Your Spouse Doesn’t Find a Hobby As Intense As Yours Or Else You Are Doomed……

Because seriously, we already know we are pushing the limits.

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