Right here in the throes of the holiday shopping frenzy, I have to take this opportunity to tell any guys out there looking for the perfect gift for the woman in your life, there is absolutely nothing more endearing to those of us on the Midlife Horses trail than a man who loves our horse (and especially, a man who loves our horse book–see one prime example below). And one who supports us as we pursue this passion, even if it means letting us have our barn time at the expense of the attention June Cleaver would most likely have focused elsewhere — perhaps on the dustbunnies rolling across your dining room floor (the ones she steps over on her way out the door on her way to the aforementioned barn).
So, first, the obvious plug for The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses as the perfect holiday gift for any woman on your list who either has horses now, loves horses and is contemplating Midlife Horses, or is simply looking for something to help her find the authenticity she needs to chart her own course for the second half of life.
Going back for a moment to our experience at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering last month (our official opening weekend of Gift Season, it turned out), I noticed another midlife horse phenomenon. It seems that while some of the women I meet who are getting into their Midlife Horses in a big way now that the kids are out of the house have husbands (or significant others) who are cowboys, ranchers or equine competitors — and now they want to claim a piece of that action, too. And they want to do it on their own terms. Just as many others, however, seem to have men in their lives who do not share this interest, but are supportive (or at least tolerant) of this passion because of how happy it makes us.
So here’s what’s really priceless: Having a man in your life who truly understands and supports your passion for Midlife Horses (not to mention the creation of a book that takes the obsession to a whole new level). He’s the guy who doesn’t ride, doesn’t really want a horse, but nevertheless, one who will go with us to the barn when it’s dark and cold, frets with us over our horse problems (and does what he can to help us solve them), listens to all our plans and dreams, celebrates even our smallest victories with us (even if he has no idea what you’re talking about), consoles us in our less-than-victorious moments (sometimes these also require ice packs), reads the paper in the car on a pretty Sunday afternoon while we ride, holds our horse while we go to the bathroom during a clinic (and takes photos we can use for a book and articles–or just our own review– during the same below freezing 3-day clinic), goes “horse camping” with us (and all the extra hauling that entails) and meets us with a cold beer and a hot steak when we get back from getting lost on the trail. He’s they guy who slips your horse a potato chip when you’re not looking and saves all his restaurant peppermints as horse treats.(Be prepared, though. Your horses will like him a lot better than they like you. They can be bought.)
So guys, if you’re looking for a gift to give that will win her heart forever (besides my book, of course) I’ll let you in on a BIG secret. There is nothing sexier to us than a guy who loves your horse. These are the guys who get it. Rather than feeling threatened or jealous or annoyed at the time we spend away from the home fires (and it is important to try to keep a balance; see chapter 3), these are the guys who understand how much happier and settled we are when we spend a chunk of our time with our Midlife Horses. Often, they are also the first ones to send us to the barn when we get irritable. (I’m not sure my horses appreciate this hand-off, but I do always come back home much happier–and probably nicer.)
So if the woman in your life has the “horse thing” in her blood, the very best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship with her is to support it with all your might. You will be amazed at the difference this gift will make in the time she does spend with you — and in the way she feels about you — from now on.