Hilary Moore Hebert: An Ode to My Horse Husband - Dressage Today

Hilary Moore Hebert: An Ode to My Horse Husband

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My husband is not a horse person, but that has not stopped him from being the perfect horse husband. I still recall the moment when we were dating that I told him I wanted to take a job as a working student. We were standing in his kitchen and I don't remember what he said, but I do remember that he didn't stop me. That would be the first of many times that he "allowed" me to follow my equestrian dreams.

With Mike in Spain, when we were not looking at horses.

With Mike in Spain, when we were not looking at horses.

When I flew to Utah (we live in Maryland) to participate in the only USDF "L" program that had space, Mike came with me to scribe. We were only dating, but he sat by my side writing all of my scores and comments. I forgave him for writing "threw" when I said "through"?and he smiled through my minor insanity when I felt I didn't have the right "judge's outfit" for testing and forced him to walk the women's clothing aisles of Walmart at midnight, when we had to get up in seven hours.

Since then, we have bought a farm and I have spent countless weekends away at horse shows.

Though he is still not a horse person, he has become a horseman. Mike stays home most show weekends because he is the only person I trust completely with the supervision of the farm. He tops off the water troughs when he is out in the yard, comments on what the horses in field board were doing today and has taken on our barn renovations with the care of a horse owner. Did I mention that he is allergic to horses?!?!

While walking to the dressage warm-up at an event last year, Mike turned to me and said, "isn't it weird that an event horse would be doing Spanish walk." I was about to laugh at him for saying something so ridiculous, but sure enough, heading toward us was a hot horse being led ... in Spanish walk. I have no idea how Mike knew this, as I don't train Spanish walk. Maybe it was the stop in Jerez during our honeymoon, the half-time performances at WIHS or the countless other horse events I drag him to. However, somewhere along the way he started paying attention and not just in a way that suggested he was just trying to learn enough to keep me from yelling at him for not caring. Now he can parrot scores and comments about almost every movement in dressage as he sees them. He knows to be excited about a 70 percent and he can recognize a clean flying change.

Mike is not a big talker, so when we got married last April our vows were short and to the point. I could see how it might not have been easy to see just how deeply he loves me. However, on our first anniversary this year he let me ride in a horse show. After I finished my Prix St. Georges test, Mike excitedly pointed out that I was competing against Ravel. When I told him that was impossible, that Ravel had retired from international competition, he said he knew that. He said it was the only reasonable explanation for why he would assume that an Olympian could be competing in the small tour with a new rider.

Of course he knew who Ravel was, that Steffen Peters was his rider and OF COURSE he knew Ravel was retiring after the winter season. Of course he knew these things. I love this sport, but my husband could care less about dressage. He just truly, deeply loves me.

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