Let’s start by saying this is quite a big deal in our household! Never did I think in a million years that my husband James would be learning to ride. It all started due to lockdown. James had nothing else to do other than coming up to the stables with me. I had a lovely cob called Smartie to look after last summer. Smartie was the perfect school mistress and the safest horse anyone could ride. So James decided to have a go and actually quite liked it!
During the time we had Smartie James rode her every week. He even bought some jodhpurs!! Sadly we were only looking after Smartie temporarily. So she returned to her owner in December & James hasn’t had a horse to ride since…until now! Today James is having his first proper riding lesson on Lissy! My friend and coach Kate is giving him a lesson on the lunge. I cannot wait to see how it goes!
During the time I was helping James learn to ride I learnt a lot about riding and my own mindset by seeing horses from the eyes of a complete beginner. It was super interesting. So I thought I would share what I have learnt when I taught my non-horsey husband to ride.
If you don’t know what could go wrong you worry less!
James has a lovely calm air of confidence around horses. I feel this is because he hasn’t seen anything that has frightened him yet. He isn’t worried about bad things happening as he doesn’t really know what can go wrong yet. Don’t worry he is always supervised with the horses by someone who does know what to watch out for. But it is actually very refreshing to handle the horses with him. For example when I first bought Gracie, she wasn’t the calmest to be led in hand. So James would take her for me as he is stronger and very calm. Gracie reacted really well to this. It made me take a look at myself. Why am I getting scared of my own horse when my non horsey husband can handle her just fine?!
It’s really nice to have a groom!
Now James has been coming to the stables with me for a few months he makes an excellent groom! He can groom Gracie, carry stuff for me, put out poles and pick up poo and he even clipped Smartie for me! It is just great!
Things that are second nature to me have to be taught to non horsey people!
I remember vividly trying to teach James how to do rising trot. I showed him how to do it and explained the best I could. But I realised that I learnt to do it when I was 5 years old…I now do it without thinking. That makes teaching it so difficult! Feeling the rhythm and looking at the horses shoulders seemed straight forward to me. I completely forgot how tricky it is to learn when you’ve never done it before.
Also there was a time me and 2 of my friends all shouted at him at the same time when he fed Smartie an apple without breaking it in half first. Something we always do, but never thought to say!
There are a lot of rules to learn when it comes to horses
Leading and mounting from the left, brushing in the direction of the fur, leaving a hour before riding after feeding, rolling up your stirrups when you lead your horse, passing left shoulder to left shoulder in the arena and leaving a horses length between you and the horse in front are all things we must have learnt at some point that are now completely normal to us!
We use a whole horsey vocabulary
It turns out we use a whole different vocabulary to other people! Napping, diagonals, gaits, transitions, numnah are just some of the words that we use that non horsey people may not understand. Let’s not forget that James and I live in France! James speaks French very well but like me has had to learn horsey vocabulary in 2 languages! The funniest time I remember was when we were at my french coach’s yard and she was saying we could go see her foal. Now foal in French is poulain. So when my coach was asking about if we wanted to see the foal James was just catching the first part which sounds a lot like chicken!
We can make horsey holiday plans
Now one of the mega perks of riding with your husband is that you can plan fun holidays in the future that involve horses. Safari on horseback in South Africa. Dude Ranch in Colorado. Jungle ride in Costa Rica. Yes to all of those please!!
It’s fun to share your passion with someone.
Lots of people have said to me that they wouldn’t want to share their stable time with their partner. But I have loved it. It’s nice that James understands more about horses, what Gracie needs, why I spend so much time down there and planning and thinking about what I will be doing with Gracie. He now ‘gets it’ a lot more than before and understands how important Gracie is to me and that she is always a priority.