If Riding Were Marriage Counseling

Have you ever seen a horse and rider in a tense argument, with each not giving in, and thought, “Aww, they’re like an old married couple having a spat?” Or maybe you have BEEN that pair. I’m just sayin.’

If horses and riders were to have marriage counseling, this is how I’d see it going.

Rider: Why do you ALWAYS do this. You used to bend right and go on the bit all the damn time, and now it’s like you’ve totally forgotten. It’s like you don’t even care anymore.

Horse: Always? Always? What about that time last week that I was bending for like two minutes? Does that not even count? You’re so dismissive of my efforts. And you wonder why I don’t even care anymore.

Rider: Damn right you don’t care. I remember there was a time that you put in so much effort. You dazzled. You were a star. Now look at you. You don’t even want to do the simplest of things for me. You’ve developed an attitude. And let’s not even talk about that extra 200 lbs. you’ve gained and that useless hay belly of yours. You’ve really let yourself go.

Horse: WELL WHAT ABOUT YOU? When you first got me, you used to come in and brush my tail and condition my mane and call me Pumpkin. You’d kiss my nose and stuff. Now all I get is a smack on the butt.

Rider: Um, you mean when you bite MY butt when I won’t give you carrots?

Horse: Well I deserve them.

Rider: ::eyeroll::

Horse: WELL I DO. I work hard for you, you know.

Rider: Work hard? What are you talking about? The most effort you’ve put in all week is when you piaffed to the gate at feed time. You wouldn’t know a piaffe under saddle if it came smothered in treats and stuffed with hay. Like your belly.

Horse: You want to go there? OK, let’s go there. YOU AREN’T A SIZE 28 BREECHES ANYMORE EITHER, LADY. You should think about getting some new ones.

Rider: Well I can’t, because you took all my damn money. You know, spending it on the vet WHEN YOU FAKED YOUR LAMENESS LAST MONTH.

Horse: Well I had to do something to get away from your constant demands. Like last week when you insisted I go over that jump without knocking down rails. You have unreasonable expectations, and all you do is nag, nag, nag.

Rider: I wouldn’t have to nag if you just did it right THE FIRST TIME. GAWD, it’s not that hard.

Horse: You know, I go into my stall after a long day in the field stuffing my face and working really hard to tear the fly masks off the rest of my herd. It’s my job, you know, and sometimes I get really stressed out and just want to relax when I get back to my stall. The last thing I need is you constantly on my back as soon as I get home. Like, literally.

Rider: You think I don’t get stressed out too? You eat all my money. Like, literally.

Horse: Well you’d have more money if you didn’t spend it all on that damn mini. You know, ever since we got a little one, it’s like you don’t even care about me anymore. It’s all “squee, mini” this and “look at his tiny hooves” that. You know, I still want to feel important too. What about my needs?

Rider: Like more hay for your fat belly?

Horse: ::eyeroll::

Rider: You KNOW you love that mini. But you know, I got him for you, to keep you company, and all you do is ignore him. Maybe you should spend less time sniffing mares’ rear ends and maybe more time paying attention to him.

Horse: Well it appears that we both have valid complaints.

Rider: ::eyeroll::

Marriage Counselor:  OK. Well I see that we’ve aired some grievances today. God, it’s not even Festivus and y’all are laying it on real thick. What we have here is a failure to communicate and lack of respect. I’m not going to point fingers, but you know…  anyway, I want you to think back to a happier time together. What did that feel like?

Horse: Well I loved it when we used to not do all this dressage bullshit so much. Sometimes I just don’t want to. Also, it was, like, really beautiful when you let me eat all the hay I wanted to and you thought it was cute when I begged for treats.

Rider: OK, that’s fair. But sometimes, just sometimes, I need you to just suck it up and do things for the sake of this partnership. We all do things we don’t want to do sometimes, and even I don’t always like dressage. But we’re eventers, and we have to take responsibility. OK?

Horse: OK.

Rider: OK, good. It looks like you understand. I love you. Let’s not fight again. Now let’s just go do that dressage test and ride it pretty for old time’s sake. We got this!

Horse impersonates a giraffe down the centerline then bucks, farts and jumps out of the dressage arena.

Rider: (to trainer) I think we need to get some sale papers together. Call my lawyer.