Friday, February 19, 2016

My Awesome Husband, and My Horses

Here's something you should know about my husband: we started dating before I started riding horses.

When I started riding, in college, and called him (my steady boyfriend, my best friend) and said, haltingly, "I'm really loving this horse stuff. I love it even more than I thought I would," he said, "I'd be happy to live on a farm."

I always wanted to ride. I can not remember not wanting to ride, can't remember a time when horses weren't important to me. I didn't get a chance to ride as a child because it simply wasn't something I knew how to do--I took ballet and drama class and piano, but there wasn't a lesson barn near me. None of my friends rode except one that went out to dude ranches on summer vacations. Nobody I knew did horses.

When I went to a college with its own barn, with a solid lesson program and an IHSA team, that was heaven. I learned as much as I possibly could. I pushed myself ahead, skipping steps so that even now I sometimes run up against things I should have been taught years ago yet still don't know. My trainer Angelica once stared open-mouthed at my ignorance. I shrugged. "I was raised by wolves," I said, and she nodded.

It didn't matter. I've always tended to throw myself headlong into things. I threw myself headlong into horses. Bought my first horse when my husband and I were first married, fairly broke--he won an award in medical school, brought home a check, and said, "Can you get a horse and tack for that?" I said, "Oh, yes," and bought a two-hundred dollar saddle, with bridle and fittings included, (even then, that was so cheap as to be nearly dangerous, though I did replace the stirrup leathers and girth immediately) and a chestnut Thoroughbred mare so recently off the race track that she still wore racing shoes. And three months later rode her in the hunt field. If that sounds stupid, you've no idea. It was crazy.

(If you've read The War That Saved My Life, you may have questioned some of the horse stuff, particularly Ada jumping Jonathan's horse out of the field. Nah. It's solid. I have personally done much stupider stuff.)

My husband doesn't like to ride. He's uncomfortable atop a thousand-pound animal with a healthy prey response and a very small brain. He watches me cry over lame horses and be frustrated by misbehaving ones; he hears about my friends getting hurt, gets a phone call that I'm being taken away from the show via ambulance. This is not what he'd prefer.

Yet here I am, in Florida, loving this part of my life. He's home and he's lonely and he understands. It means the world to me, that he gets this part of me, and supports it, and always has.

We were at karoke night at Blanca's on Wednesday, a big group of us. Someone mentioned my husband. My trainer Betty grinned. "Kim's husband is awesome," she said.

He is. Always has been. Don't think I don't appreciate it. I do.