February 2015 | Help! My Boyfriend is Jealous of My Horse
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Help! My Boyfriend is Jealous of My Horse

February 2015 - Malorie de la Mare

Dear Mal…
This seems almost more like a relationship question than a horse question. But I suspect you’ll have some valuable advice for me. I have a boyfriend and a horse—that’s two separate entities. The horse is wonderful, and I truly enjoy being with him and spending time with him even when I don’t get to ride him. We do exclusively trail riding, and an occasional hunt. Boyfriend doesn’t like horses, and especially doesn’t like my horse. He says that the horse takes up too much of my time. My boyfriend and I have been living together for a couple of years, but I’ve had my horse for about seven years. Both my boyfriend and I work and we share lots of friends. We also each have a small group of separate friends. Mine are almost all related somehow to horses. His are almost all related to his great passion: golf. I’ve calculated that, on average, I spend about 14 hours a week with my horse. During golf season, my boyfriend spends about 20 hours a week playing golf. When golf season is over, he and his friends go to football games, or they go to bars and watch football games. Personally I think that having a “separate” passion is a good thing. I don’t begrudge him his golf games or his football games. Why do you think he gets so uptight about my horse? What do you think I should do?


Well, Torn…
I do have a suggestion right off the bat: become whole! You should not be torn between your love for your horse and whatever it is you feel for your boyfriend. Some people are very jealous. Your boyfriend obviously doesn’t think you should have a passion for anything but him. The fact that you love your horse and enjoy being with him should be a source of pleasure for someone who truly loves you and cares about your mental health. His petulance about your horse—a relationship you had long before boyfriend entered the picture—strikes me as immature and needy.

What would he like you to do while he’s slogging away on the golf course or cheering for his football team? Are you supposed to be home, alone, pondering the wonders of your relationship with him? Does he not like the idea that you have independent thoughts, activities, etc.? Life is way too short for anyone to spend precious hours feeling guilty for enjoying their horse or their golf game. I think you should have a candid discussion with boyfriend expressing your dismay about his attitude toward your relationship with your horse. You might ask him exactly what the difference is between 14 hours a week with the horse versus 20 hours a week with golf and football.

Good relationships are built on respect, trust and individuals’ mutual desires to see each other happy. You both deserve to enjoy your lives. If you’re contemplating taking your relationship to the next level, it would be in your best interest to have this conversation sooner instead of later. Good luck.

Dear Mal…
For the past couple of weeks my horse has come in from the pasture with his mane and tail matted—I mean epically matted!—and tangled with these little sticker-type things. They’re about half inch round little balls. It’s nearly impossible to get them out of his hair without a lot of pulling. Ouch! These things have stickers all over them, and they get all over me when I remove them from my horse. What are they, and is there some way other than to cut clumps of hair off my horse to get rid of them? HELP!


Dear Stuck…
Your horse has discovered burdock. Those stickers are really, really annoying. Burdock is an invasive weed to some, a tasty treat to others. It’s true! There are folks who actually make tea from parts of this plant, and eat the fleshy roots (they claim the roots taste like potatoes). The stickers that your horse has attracted are tough to remove. But you definitely need to get them out of his mane and tail. For one thing, your horse could scratch his eyes on pieces of the stickers that fly off. For another, the tighter they get in his mane and tail, the more difficult it will be to get them out.

You should start with a good, sturdy comb with teeth that won’t break easily. Comb around the matted hair, and below it, so you’ll have only the most tangled hair to deal with. Spray the tangled mats liberally with ShowSheen, or another product that makes the hair “slippery.” Be careful, though. Don’t use something that shouldn’t be on your horse! Once you’ve sprayed the mane and tail, carefully—either with the comb or with your fingers, start teasing the stickers out. Once the main body of the sticker is removed, it’s fairly easy to comb through the mane and tail and get the residue. It’s important to make sure you get the whole thing out, because you don’t want any parts of this sticker ball to wind up in your horse’s eyes. When your horse gets his forelock tangled with these burdock stickers, the hair is so close to his eyes that you could even inadvertently comb some of the burdock residue into his eyes. So be careful! Unfortunately burdock is not easy to get rid of, and it seems to proliferate in so-called disturbed areas, like pastures. So your best bet is to be prepared and be patient.