Monday, December 06, 2010

Horse Husbands, here's some food for thought.

These last few weeks have been a crazy time for Kaswyn and I. They've also been trying for my family. Fortunately, Craig recently did some thinking about my horse that has led to an epiphany of sorts on his part. I think there are those who can benefit from this line of thinking, so I asked Craig to write it up so I could post it.

Here it is -

Hi. Sheri’s husband here.

I generally don’t poke my nose into this odd and mysterious world of horse people, but Sheri's asked me to write a guest post concerning a recent revelation I've had. An epiphany, actually.

I should start by admitting that I don't much like Sheri's horse. I know that's blasphemous talk, and I certainly don't expect any of you to take my side on this. I know you'll probably say "You don't ride, you can't understand" and, to a degree, you're right. But I have my own hobbies that I'm passionate about, and they require a certain amount of dedication and time commitment, so I think I have a baseline understanding, even though I agree that I'll never share the deep connection Sheri has with her horse.

But, in my own defense, this isn't a knee-jerk "what's that gonna cost?" or "I never see you anymore!" thing (even though that has certainly played a part) but, rather, an attitude that has developed over time.

When we first started dating, Sheri made it clear that she and her horse were a package deal. And if I couldn't deal with her riding, then it wasn't going to work between us. And for the first five years it really wasn't much of an issue. Or, at least, not as big an issue as it would become. I wasn't passionate about riding or Kaswyn, but I didn't object, either. I was pretty neutral. Riding made Sheri happy, so why not? Yeah, it cost money for stabling and feed, but it wasn't causing financial difficulties, really.

But, in the past five years, Kaswyn has become a real money pit. He is constantly lame, and the efforts to diagnose, manage and treat this lameness has run up hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

This stresses Sheri and makes her miserable. And I don't want my wife to be miserable.

Being a man and approaching things like a man, my thinking is that if you remove the stress-causing element (Kaswyn) then things would be better. This kinda came to a head recently with the whole affair of taking Kaswyn down to OSU, having him develop mysterious blood issues, postponing surgery, Sheri having to fetch him on Thanksgiving Day thereby missing dinner with my family, then having him develop new mysterious issues only to be rushed to another vet for an overnight stay… Sheri was a stressed-out, crying mess for most of a week.

Mulling these events over in my head, I started to form an analogy that would help convey to Sheri just why this series of events angered me so.

I thought: Let’s say Lily (our oldest daughter, who is now only seven) were 16 years old and dating a boy who she just LOVED. But every third date or so she came home in tears. And she was constantly spending excessive amounts of money on him. And even when things were good, she was still stressed and nervous, just waiting for when things turned bad again. If this were the case, there’s no way that Sheri or I would stand for it. We’d tell her that this guy is bad for her, and she should dump him, that there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. And even if she told us, "But I really love him! I need him in my life! I’d be less without him!" we’d stick to our guns.

Now here comes the epiphany part.

As I thought it over I realized that it wasn't a very good analogy. It would be closer to the case if Lily were an adult and married to a man who was suddenly faced with a serious and potentially life-altering issue. Cancer. Parkinson’s. Macular degeneration. Something like that. If THAT were the case, I realized, I wouldn’t tell her to dump the guy. I’d tell her that she’s in a relationship that she committed to a long time ago and that she should stick it out, support him.

Don’t give up hope.

This completely altered my perception of the situation. I mean, I still don’t like to see my wife unhappy, and I don’t like it that such a large percentage of our household income is spent on one animal… but now I think I have a tiny bit more understanding of what’s going on in Sheri’s head. And, for maybe the first time, I think she's doing the right thing.

Also, check out this post at Behind the Bit for a similar blog post about horses and husbands.


Taya said...

I like you Craig- even though I've never met you. I know Sheri. I've even spent time with Kaz. I also have a husband. He does ride, a little, and I am lucky that he understands the whole horse thing. His hobby is expensive too and I really appreciate that he doesn't hold horse expenses over my head.

Amy said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad you are seeing the situation from her perspective. It says alot that you are even trying. I hope that someday my husband might have the same epiphany.

Scarlett said...

To be fair to Husband -
Why haven't you just retired Kaswyn? He's old enough that age is a major factor, and you are playing the "this may fix it" game for high dollar stakes.

I am not accusing - I'm genuinely curious because my trainer is facing a similar decision with her warm blood.

At what point do you stop and say, "You gave me your best - I'm not going to put you through any more exams, procedures, etc unless I know unequivicably that you will get some pain relief from them."

There's a point where our selfish desire to continue to have the FEI horse to ride and be partners with takes over the well being of the animal.

I am NOT NOT NOT saying this is the case for you and Kaswyn... Please don't think that. I'm saying that sometimes its more like putting your grandmother through experimental procedure after procedure to help fix her arthritis so you guys can go hiking together again - you don't know, you're spending lots of money, the process is painful and stressful - and why??? So you can ride tempis together again.

I am curious how you're balancing that really HARD line to walk...

Again - I am not criticizing here at all - my guess is you have gone through the process already and thought it through. I just want to understand how you came to this decision in this case, especially with all the family frustration, risk of procedure, financial obligation, and uncertainty it would work.

Dressage Mom said...


I'm not offended. The answer to your question is too long to post here. I'll address it in an actual blog post. It's complicated. :)

Katie L. said...

Thanks for sharing your side of things. I think my husband's thoughts are similar to yours, though I also think he knows better than to ever suggest giving any of it up :-) To validate the first analogy that you realized didn't apply to this situation, I have known people who try to make a horse work for them even though it's just not meant to be. There are ones whose personalities don't match their owners, who are mean, who are dangerous, etc. Hopefully all of us have someone in our lives who might help us realize that if we are in that situation. Stressing out of love, rather than out of fear of the horse itself, is what your wife is going through...and it is a struggle.

Rising Rainbow said...

YeaH, Craig! I'm so glad you fot it. I know it will take a lot of stress off Sheri that you now understand.

Kaswyn has given Sheri the best years of his life and it speaks to her great character that she hasn't discarded him because he's now having issues.

Sounds to me like you are a great pair.

Jen said...

MAJOR points for Craig - a most awesome epiphany there, dude (and you know how we like those around here ;o)

Dare To Be Different said...

Wonderful insight. <3

Achieve1dream said...

Great post and so true. I can see why you would've been upset and angry when you were thinking the first analogy. I would be too. I'm glad you had such a wonderful epiphany that helped you understand what Sheri is going through. We invest so much emotionally into our horses there is just no way we could get rid of them if there's any hope of having more time together. Your second analogy is dead on accurate. Thanks for sharing. We enjoyed hearing from you.

Tammy Vasa said...

That was really nice for him to share with us. I have issues with my husband and the horses - not $$, but because he doesn't have any hobbies of his own. He rides, but isn't passionate about it. He seems me off having a good time with my riding buddies and feels left out. It's been difficult lately.

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