The AQHA Intern Experience

To Barn Dads and Horse-Show Fathers

I was 2 years old the first time I rode a horse, if you count a pony ride at a fair as riding a horse. I don’t remember that first ride, but my dad will never let me forget it.

My dad grew up on a farm with a few work horses, and through the years, I have heard plenty of stories.

My favorite story was about "Old Red." My dad used to collect the glass milk bottles from the neighbors. He would hitch the cart up to Old Red and take a trip around collecting bottles worth a cent or two. My dad tells me that Red was a good boy. He knew his job, and he knew his home. My dad was out with him when a thunder storm rolled in. Red wanted to get home. He took off toward the barn with my dad. When he got there, the half open barn door wasn’t going to stop him from being safe in his stall. There was enough room for Red but not the cart he had dragged behind him on his race home. I always imagine a cartoonish episode of the cart being left behind and the wheels popping off the sides. Apparently, it’s not far from the truth. Needless to say, my dad’s uncle was none too happy with the state of the cart.

My dad put me on a horse when I was 2 years old, looked over at my mother and said, “She’s a natural.” He tells this story to every riding instructor or coach of mine. I always want to interject that this is just his biased opinion, but he says it with such pride that I can’t get the words out.

The fact is, I owe my dad a lot. I don’t know if I would have come to love horses the same way if he hadn’t put me up on one, taken me to my first lesson or told his stories. I was my mom’s prima ballerina for 10 years before I turned totally cowgirl. And when all I wanted to do was ride, my dad was right there to drive me 50 minutes to my trainer’s barn. When I desperately wanted a horse, my dad was there, after a serious talk about commitment and responsibility, writing a check. When I had to give up my first horse, he was there to comfort me and dry my tears. When it came time for horse No. 2, he built me a barn at the house and mucked out the stalls on school days. When I rode for my college team for the first time, he was there grinning at my blue ribbon. When I got my current internship at AQHA, he drove across the country with me so I wouldn’t have to drive alone and told me with an almost straight face that he would not be driving a horse back at the end of the summer.

So I owe quite a bit to my dad, more than I could ever say with a Happy Father’s Day card or an “I love you.” I suppose this is my way of saying, "Happy Father’s Day."

To all the barn dads and horse-show fathers, thank you for making dreams come true. Happy Father’s Day!