A Horse Can Be A Great Marriage Counselor

Troy Marshall 2, BEEF Contributing Editor

April 2, 2010

3 Min Read
A Horse Can Be A Great Marriage Counselor

Someone once told me that one could learn a lot about marriage by studying how your dog relates to you. I don’t remember all of his points but it revolved around points like the dog always is focused on you, wants to please, expects the best, is quick to forget and forgive, etc.

I’m sure there’s a lot of good advice hidden in that analogy, but it doesn’t really resonate with me. I prefer to ponder how the principles of a relationship between a man and his horse could apply to the relationship between spouses. Here are my thoughts:

  • First off, you never should take a horse for granted. That horse might be as gentle and good-minded as they come but something as little as a pheasant jumping out of the brush can leave you sitting on the ground if you aren’t paying attention. So it is in a relationship; if you don’t have a handle on what’s going on and aren’t being pretty observant, little things can lead to a big wreck.

  • You can’t force a horse to do anything; they’re bigger and stronger. Plus, even if you succeed by forcing a behavior through intimidation, they’ll resent it and cheat on you the first chance they get. Enough said on that one.

  • It’s the fundamentals that lead to really great performances – things like collection, softness and flexibility; development of a willing attitude takes time, repetition and consistency.

  • When one has the foundation in place, it’s really pretty easy to take the horse to the next level, and relationships are similar. A good foundation, putting the other person first, being committed to the relationship, etc., allows one to move to the next level. If you don’t take care of the fundamentals, however, a wreck usually ensues.

  • Getting mad is normal, but usually counterproductive. I’ll always remember a cowboy sitting down on the ground just holding his horse. I rode up and asked him what he was doing, and he answered: “I’m just sitting here until I get my temper under control, because if I get back on this horse I could ruin six months of training in 60 seconds.”

    Frustration and anger are going to occur in relationships. At least, I think my wife has been a little frustrated with me from time to time. Such emotions are understandable but how you respond is critical.

  • A good horseman puts his faith in the horse. He understands that a horse usually wants to do what is right; they just don’t always understand what that is. While words of advice like "making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard," or "taking when they take and giving when they give," may work wonderfully with horses, I wouldn’t recommend those sayings for relationships.

    Still, I think it would help if we kept in mind that the other person is probably not trying to do the wrong thing, they’re just not sure what they’re supposed to do. Relationships require faith in each other and for one side to look for the best in another.

  • Little things add up. You can tell a lot about the pride a man has in horse by the way he feeds and grooms his steed, how he takes care of his equipment, and by the time he’s willing to invest to make the horse better. So it is in a relationship; how you treat your spouse, provide for their needs and mind the details is pretty darn indicative of what you think of them. My wife would probably argue that there’s a point to be made between keeping a stall clean and an office clean, but I will leave it at that.

When two beings get in true unity and you act as one, it’s pretty darn fun.

My last piece of advice is that if throw a pretty big loop, you better be sure you are well mounted.

About the Author(s)

Troy Marshall 2

BEEF Contributing Editor

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock and World Champion Horse Judging teams. Following college, he worked as a market analyst for Cattle-Fax covering different regions of the country. Troy also worked as director of commercial marketing for two breed associations; these positions were some of the first to provide direct links tying breed associations to the commercial cow-calf industry.

A visionary with a great grasp for all segments of the industry, Troy is a regular opinion contributor to BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly. His columns are widely reprinted and provide in-depth reporting and commentary from the perspective of a producer who truly understands the economics and challenges of the different industry segments. He is also a partner/owner in Allied Genetic Resources, a company created to change the definition of customer service provided by the seedstock industry. Troy and his wife Lorna have three children. 

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