Happy Father’s Day to the Horse Show Dads

Photo by Hatte Hamilton

BY INTERN KELSEY ALLEN

The one who never thought they’d ever call themselves a horse owner. The one who’s child asked for a pony as soon as they could talk. Who signed their child up for their first riding lesson, despite feelings of trepidation.

Happy Father’s Day to the dad who’s horse sense doesn’t extend beyond dude-ranch trail rides and old western movies. Who was prepared to coach little league baseball and pee wee soccer, but instead now spend weekends at the barn… feeling out of their depth in a sport with a language they don’t quite speak (yet).

On this day, and every day, your kid thanks you for coming to the horse shows armed with a bottle of water in one hand and a camera in the other. For watching from the side of the schooling ring with eagle eyes, even though you can’t tell a chip from a botched lead change. For catching our coat when we shuck it off, and reminding us to hydrate every time our faces turn blotchy and red. For practicing with the camera for hours to learn the timing of a horse’s jump, and keeping a steady head while videoing so we can later pour over our rounds as we look for ways to improve.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Shaw

Thank you to the dads who station themselves along the rail, so that they can whisper check your diagonal to their hopeful short stirrup champion. To the dads who still whisper diagonal as we pass, even though we’re cantering fences so tall it turns their knuckles white.

Thank you for swallowing your fear whenever we come crashing down, and wiping the dirt from our clothes and re-assuring us that it’s okay to try again – even if you’re just as scared as we are. For waiting with us in the doctor’s office after the times we aren’t quite quick enough getting back on our feet. For never once asking us to quit.

For teaching us how to polish our boots the night before a horse show, and not getting too mad when we steal your good brushes. For telling us to eat more protein in the morning, because you understand athletes and the key to a good performance is a good breakfast. For driving us to horse shows so early in the morning that the good coffee shops aren’t open yet. For letting the trunk of your car turn into a tack room, and spending long weekends on the road as we start to branch out to bigger shows further from home.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Shaw

Thank you for soothing moments of frustration and disappointment by remind us that success is sometimes just jumping all the jumps in the correct order on the first try, and any day we don’t eat dirt should be counted as a good day. On the days you can’t make it, thank you for listening as we describe each round in excruciating detail over the phone. For letting us pursue our goals even when it takes us away from home for weeks, or even months, at a time.

For trying to greet all the horses in the barn by name, even though you can’t always tell them apart. For stuffing your pockets full of peppermints at every restaurant we go to, and learning how to hold them out flat in your hand. For holding our horse’s lead like dog leashes (we know you don’t think there’s a difference, but we can still tell). For marvelling at every piece of equine technology, instead of growing frustrated at the cost. For promising to do right by our animals, even when the bills ad up.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Shaw

But mostly, thank you for supporting us in everything we do. Happy Father’s Day, horse show dads – we are so grateful for you!