Horse Husband Training

By Terry Golson

When Steve and I met, I was leasing a horse, so he knew that horses were part of the story of who I am. Your significant other might get that you’re “into horses” but at the beginning they never really know how that affects the relationship. In our case, it took years before it finally dawned on Steve what it meant to marry a horse girl. There were pregnancies, children, finances and health issues that kept me from horse ownership. But about seven years ago, the stars aligned. It was possible for me to start riding a friend’s horse on a daily basis. Steve saw how happy it made me. He said, Why don’t you buy a horse? It was very sweet. He had no clue.

But, he’s been the perfect horse husband. He likes taking photos of Tonka and me. He comes to our lessons and horse shows. He holds Tonka while I go to the loo, pack the trailer, etc. etc.

Tonka loves Steve. He’s the guy who hands the peppermint over after I come out of the dressage ring. When Steve takes hold of the lead rope it means relaxing grazing time.

But in the six years that I’ve had Tonka, that’s all that Steve has done. Chill with Tonka after I hand him the lead line. Next week I’m going to Dallas for the ASAT conference. I’ll be gone three days. If the weather is anything like it is right now, it’ll be bitter cold and icy. There’s a chance that the horses will be stuck indoors. Even when it’s a deep freeze and I can’t ride, I still go to the barn to hand walk Tonka. I thought that this is something that Steve could do while I’m away. But he would need training.

Yesterday I gave Steve a lesson. In all of this time, he’s never put Tonka’s halter on! That was easy. Tonka stands stock still for it. I’ve trained him to do that and my horse knows that good things happen after he’s haltered. Like a nice moment with his friend.


The next step is to walk Tonka out of his stall. Horse people have (or should have!) a special dangerous obstacle radar. This is something that Steve needs to develop. One must leave the stall straight, so that the horse doesn’t get jabbed by the latch. I pointed out the tub of grain waiting for Finn to return to his stall. If you don’t notice it, your horse will, and instead of walking up the aisle, you’ll be yanking your horse’s head out of someone else’s bucket. Scan the aisle. Is there a blanket on the ground? Walk carefully past it.


Once in the aisle, I showed Steve how Tonka knows that the word ho means to stop and stand still.


Then I drop the lead rope so that Tonka ground ties. At this point, he can have a carrot.


The one bit of the grooming routine that I want Steve to be able to do is to pick out hooves. Tonka supervised.


Steve aced picking out the hind hooves!


Then it was into the arena for a walk. Especially on a bitter cold winter day, the indoor is a social and relaxing place. Others have the same idea. Steve won’t be cuddling Tonka from his back (like Katie on her pony), but there’s no need. Tonka enjoys stretching his legs and seeing his friends.


Still, when I’m around, Tonka knows exactly where I am at all times. Those perky ears are pointed at me.

But I’m sure that these two will be happy for each other’s company while I’m away.

Do you have a horse husband or significant other who loves that you love your barn time? Do they help or are they amused from a distance? It’s Valentine’s Day. Did you get your non-horsey partner a horsey gift? Steve got a dish towel that says “I have to go. My horse is calling me.”

18 thoughts on “Horse Husband Training

  • John Schaller

    Being fairly new to horses myself, I can relate to things like picking feet and haltering initially seeming foreign. They look like they really enjoy each other! My fiance is sort of an aspiring re-rider, who does go on trail rides with me occasionally now, so the familiarity is there though the time budget is not always. No horsey Valentine’s gifts between us…yet…but we actually have talked about possibly visiting one horse that my fiance likes dropping in on as part of Valentine’s evening.

  • Diana

    My husband Scott also is a great horse husband, he cleans my rig, helps pack, holds Harley and supports me in all my travels ❤
    He has never riden but Harley and I don’t hold that against him
    From Maine.

  • Paul

    I’m the horse nut and have been for as long as I can remember. My wife of 23 years is not. And I think that in many ways, that makes our relationship stronger. She understands how important the horses are to me, and she doesn’t begrudge the time and money I spend on them. She’s also happy to pitch in and feed (and clean stalls) if I can’t do it for some reason.

    I know lots of happy couples where one person is the horse nut and the other is not. I’m curious, do you think it’s an easier relationship when one partner is the horse person and the other is understanding, but not-a-horse-person? That’s compared with two horse people.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      When I was in the cooking business (both as a chef and a cookbook author) I never wanted my significant other in the kitchen with me. It’s not exactly the same with the horses, I do like having Steve help a bit, and it’s great to have his enthusiastic support of my horse obsession. I still don’t need him to get his own horse! (Although sometimes I think that a mule would be fun for both of us.)

      • Paul

        We tried getting a horse for my wife, but it didn’t work out and the gelding ended up in my string. We have four horses now, so I care for and ride them all.

        Sounds like Steve and Tonka will do fine while you’re away. Welcome to Texas!

  • Jan

    Steve has always supported you and will enjoy himself with Tonka. Its great to have a relationship that works for you both. My husband and I have been married for 52 years he is my sole mate and best friend we seem to be able to know what the other is thinking and bounce of each other 🙂

  • Gin

    Steve is a real gem. Even suggesting you buy yourself a horse. When I was young and started dating I wouldn’t even go out with someone unless they were a horse person like myself. When I married he was a cowboy and we had many, many happy years of horse ownership.

  • Kim

    Steve is awesome! And Tonka is so very well-behaved! Just another reason to train for good manners-for just times like this when someone other than you is handling the horse. My husband helps out, but he likes to make improvements to my methods. It’s kind of like child rearing. The dads so things a little differently, but it all works out just fine. We have to just appreciate and not micromanage.

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