“Niiiiice horsie. Gooood horsie.”
Among seasoned equestrians, “husband-proof” refers to a horse that anybody’s spouse can ride safely, regardless of his horse-handling experience—or lack thereof. Generally, this kind of horse is purchased by a woman who has finally convinced her husband that horseback riding is a grand way for the two of them to bond.
Finding a horse that is suitable can be challenging. What makes a horse husband-proof in the first place? Here’s a list of requirements:
- Big. When it comes to being husband-proof, size matters. A horse must be tall enough and hefty enough to easily carry a husband. No tiny horses for burly men, please.
- Calm. This means the horse will refrain from demonstrating dance skills and stand stone-still for mounting. He will also remain unfazed by blustery winds, unworried by waving branches and tolerant of small creatures that scamper across his path. In short, a husband-proof horse is “dead broke.”
- Mature. Husband-proof horses are typically at least 15 years of age. Most are closer to 20 years old. Though age is not necessarily a factor, feisty 3-year-olds generally do not qualify.
- Experienced. This horse has been around the block a few times. He’ll follow along on a trail ride without fussing, showing off, or spooking at every little surprise peeking through a nearby clump of trees.
- Patient. Husband-proof horses are tolerant of humans who mount on the wrong side, fiddle with the reins, fidget in the saddle and are generally jittery about riding atop a 1,500-pound beast in the first place.
- Steady. These horses are more likely to acknowledge an unexpected sight or sound with the flick of an ear than by bounding off in the opposite direction.
- Self-reliant. A truly husband-proof horse is able to put his own head through a halter without coaxing, move though a gate without bolting and willing to let an unseasoned horseman move him from pasture to barn without taking advantage of the fellow’s inexperience.
- Not necessarily expensive, but never cheap. Husband-proof horses are frequently sold to good homes after they’ve had long careers teaching kids to ride or carrying all manner of riders down bridle paths. Since husband-proof horses are so sought after, buyers should expect to pay for their experience and specific skills.
Patrice Bucciarelli is a freelance writer based in Florida.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!