Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saddle Up


Because you are reading these lines, I suspect you might know someone like me.  He probably lives in your house.  You've seen him: as you performed your craft, he was off to the side, taking in all in.  Smiling - on the inside if not the outside - and finding ways to cope in those times when his heart almost leaped out of his chest when you and your partner executed some feat of daring that caused his pulse rate to spike and everything within him to want to rush to your side and assure your safety.  From your lofty vantage point, you have seen the gray in his hair intensify or the bald spot expand ever so slightly.  He is awfully handy to have around, hooking up trailers and writing checks ... lots of checks.  He may or may not be adept with the hoof pick.  But he is the master of the muck rake.

He is a Horse Dad.

In the Sports Parent kingdom, the Horse Dad may be the most unique creature of all.  The platypus of the bleachers, if you will.  For unlike the Little League Dad, say, who probably grew up playing baseball himself and is reasonably self-confident when tabbed for the parent pitch start, observation informs me that the majority of Horse Dads did not grow up riding competitively -- and likely don't know anyone who did.  We are out of our league here.  We understand halfbacks, not half-halts.

Unlike the Hockey Mom, infamously glorified in the 2008 presidential campaign for her tenacity, make-up and implied ruthlessness in the face of all competition, most Horse Dads who I know are quiet - bordering on timid - and uniformly comfortable with their place in the shadows.  This set of behavioral characteristics likely formed over time, shaped by more than a few caustic glances from instructors, directed at those fathers who dared to express an opinion or offer an observation ... Adapt.  Survive.

Ah, but the Horse Dad is a fortunate member of the kingdom, indeed.  And here, from time to time, we will explore some of the reasons why that is so.  We will marvel at the beauty that graces our world, and examine some of the inevitable heartbreak.  We will count our blessings and give thanks for their abundance.  We will extol the virtues of our spouses - the true conductors of this symphony-under-saddle - and praise our children for their commitment to the equestrian enterprise.  (They think it is fun; don't tell 'em there is learning and character building taking place here.)

So come along for the ride, fellow Horse Dad, even if you never otherwise swing into the stirrups.  And invite those who know you, who love you, who rely upon you - even if just to muck an occasional stall.  It should be fun.


  1. Although not a Horse Dad myself, I can easily appreciate the commitment, hard work, love, and pride -- not to mention the good days as well as the bad days -- that goes into being one.

  2. Dude, I feel like I just happened upon a veritable treasure chest. Although not a Horse Dad myself, I am a dad, and I can so connect with your subtle and insightful description of what it's like to be one. Please write more!

  3. David, You could also include Horse Husbands. While maybe not quite as involved on a day to day basis as a Horse Dad, the Horse Husband has to deal with similar issues. Steve likes to berate me about the horse books and magazines all over the house, the "lovely" outfits we wear to ride and to clean stalls, and especially how we look and smell after a long but wonderful day at the barn. But he is always there to help when I need him. Kim Henke