Jennifer Mellace: Thanks to a Horse Husband

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As I began writing this it was a chronological account of my life with horses?when I first started riding, my years as a working student, the day I bought my first horse (the summer after I graduated college), my marriage, my kids, my second horse and so on. But it was laborious to write, so it would have definitely been boring to read. So instead, I've decided to talk about my life with horses today and how thankful I am to the man who helps make it all possible.

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I am a wife, a mother of two (a 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter), a full-time managing editor, the owner of two dogs and two horses. The horses are Ben, a now retired 21-year-old, 17-hand Trakehner/Thoroughbred who I've had since he was 4 and Woodrow (aka Dubya), a 6-year-old, 17.1-hand Clyde/Thoroughbred who I've owned since June 2011.

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As any parent knows, your time is no longer your own?especially if you're working outside the home. So finding time to ride isn't always easy. Thankfully I have one of the most understanding husbands a woman can have. While he is not a horse person, he completely tolerates my passion and supports me 110 percent.

Since the farm where I board has no indoor, my riding opportunities can be limited by weather. That said, on average I ride 3 to 4 times a week. Not bad. Currently I'm working on strengthening Dubya's back, asking him to carry himself more back-to-front and chasing that ever elusive feeling of being one with my horse. While dressage isn't my main discipline, I am a firm believer that it is the foundation to everything else I want to do. My goals aren't too lofty?jump a few jumps, join the local foxhunt club out hilltopping and continue to take lessons and improve my overall partnership with my youngster. But as you may know, this takes a lot of time and patience. On days when I've been pushed to the edge of my parenting skills or challenged with a particularly tough day at work, coming to the barn and achieving a harmonious ride isn't always easy. But I continue to try and while trying, continue to grow that bond I so dearly appreciate.

When I first married my husband, an older woman asked when I was going to sell my horse. As she so bluntly put it ? "When will you have time to cook and care for your husband?" I just laughed and replied, "He knows it's a package deal ? the horse comes with me." He did know that and supports me still. I try to reciprocate, seeing him off on a few Canadian fishing trips and movie nights with the guys. But those times truly don't add up to the countless hours he lets me escape to the place that helps keep me centered.

Horses have always been a part of my life. I would not be who I am today without them. And I am certainly a better wife and mother because of them. They continue to share life lessons with me, and now my children, who have also become animal lovers and share (in their own unique ways) the many equine adventures I pursue.

So onward to another day and another ride. And a heartfelt thank you to the man who allows me to keep the dream alive.

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