In this week’s H&H magazine we explore how to combine a successful relationship with a horsey lifestyle. Happily married former four-star eventer Lottie Goldstone is well aware of the strain a relentless competition lifestyle can place on a couple. She shares with us how she juggled her relationship with equestrian commitments, retraining to be a solicitor, and having a baby.
In my experience a prospective partner of an dedicated equestrian has to be either mad or in love — or hopefully a combination of them both: madly in love! In all seriousness though, for me it was important I was with someone who understood sport and competition. They needed to be ridiculously laid back, not too soft and a good laugh. Also, ideally a fittie and quite strong to lift stuff!
My long-term partner and now husband, Bryan, was a rugby player and that worked well as he used to come to events in the summer and I could go and watch him play in the winter (after squeezing in a cheeky bit of hunting first, of course!).
I remember once he really wanted a summer holiday so I relented and agreed to a long weekend away in Barcelona. We were all booked and paid, but I needed a CIC3* qualification for Burghley and the only event at that time was Lulworth. So we cancelled our holiday and lost our money. It wasn’t much, but that wasn’t the point. He understood and didn’t moan and more importantly he stood by me.
Oh boy did I put pressure on myself to go clear at that event. Imagine the shame if I didn’t come away with a qualifying result after all that! Fortunately all went to plan – phew!
I used to have to pack in as much time with him in the off-season. I would do exactly what he wanted to do and go wherever he wanted to go. Aside from me having to earn money for the next season, he was my priority in the winter.
He was also very supportive when I decided that I wanted to retrain as a solicitor and earn some decent money. This ate into even more of my time and it took four years of juggling it around eventing, teaching and everything else.
Fast forward 12 years and we are married with a little one. I am dual qualified (a solicitor and barrister) with my own Landed Estates and Equine division. Thank goodness he was patient!
I hope he feels it has all been worth it. I explained to him at the outset that there were certain things that I wanted to achieve in my life and I hoped he would understand. Fortunately he did and still does as I have lots more things on my list!
And my top tip — buy dry shampoo in bulk — possibly even buy shares!
Reasons to avoid dating an event rider
So here are the drawbacks of dating an event rider:
- We always smell of horse
- We generally have hat hair and grubby nails
- Events have superiority over holidays, weddings, funerals, and generally everything in between
- Forget a summer holiday — ever. Even if surrounded by lame horses we generally can’t justify it anyway as it is the cost of a three-day-event!
- We never have any money as every last penny is spent on competing
- We live like gypsies in a lorry most of the year
- We generally have three or more dogs and their bed is our bed
- We have an aversion to settling down and taking time out to have a family
- We generally ache or are nursing a new injury and are quite often knackered
- Our stables are cleaner than our homes. We are more yard-proud and less house-proud
Great reasons to date an event rider
That said, there are some real benefits of dating a rider:
- We are great fun
- We know how to party
- We live life to the absolute max and know only too well how precious life is
- We are independent and not needy
- We generally have a good (farmers!) tan
- We are hopefully in fairly good shape (except in off-season)
- We have very strong legs and great stamina…!
- We are practised at coping with disappointment. Let’s be honest — being let down on a date is nowhere near as bad as being spun at the first trot up
- We are low maintenance and live on Haribo
- We take no time at all to get ready to go out — big plus point!
Read Catherine Austen’s feature on balancing relationships with competitive aspirations in this week’s H&H magazine (out Thursday 14 August)