An Open Letter to My Horse Dad

Many thanks to Hannah Yoder for contributing this timely Father's Day post for our sister site, Horse Nation. Hannah Yoder is a misplaced Tennessean wandering the foreign lands of Southern Ohio. She is a full time crazy horse lady, part time OTTB trainer, and part time freelance writer. Happy Father's Day to all of the horse-y dads out there. This one's for you!

Boyd Martin with baby Nox in a matching XC outfit made by Silva’s friend Cheryl Griffith. Photo by Amber Heintzberger.

Dear Dad,

In what you must think back on as the worst decision of your life, you got me that first riding lesson when I was nine and woke the dormant passion that has remained alive and well ever since. I bet you didn’t realize as you stood at the arena rail and watched my first bumbling ride that you had officially become a Horse Dad.

You probably first realized your mistake when on the way home from that lesson I informed you in no uncertain terms that I wanted my own horse. I’m sure the regret has increased in intensity over the years as you watch me ride bucking greenies and OTTBs bolting at more or less the speed of light. I know you wanted your daughter to grow up to be a successful accountant or a nurse. Instead, I am a crazy, impoverished horse person.

In case you wondered, I do notice the nervous twitch you get whenever I bring up a new equestrian endeavor. I also notice when you wonder aloud if I’ll ever make it past the age of 35. But that’s okay. Because I’ve also noticed that you recognize the big heart and the work ethic that horses develop in a girl. You see how important rescuing horses is to me and you are always quietly supportive, even when I’m in tears over the dead-lame, underweight, skin diseased new horse in my barn. Yes, you do complain occasionally, but you also know that horses keep me sane and happy, and you wouldn’t want me to give them up for a good accounting job. Well, maybe you would, but at least you don’t bring up the subject too often.

I could apologize for my horse craziness, but I wouldn’t do anything about it anyway. I could promise to do better in the future, but the reality is it will only get worse. So all I can do is say “thank you.”

Thank you for surprising your little girl with a riding lesson at a time when you knew her life had gotten to be more than she could handle. In that one afternoon, you gave me a passion that would last a lifetime, you gave me something to look forward to, and you saved me from depression. It was the biggest and best gift I’ve ever received.

Thank you for buying me that first horse, that first tack set, for building me a fence and a barn. Thank you for all those long, hot hours you put in on the tractor so that I could have my own hay. Thank you for letting me get that first OTTB against your better judgment, and for not making me sell him, also against your better judgment, when that first OTTB repeatedly attempted to murder me.

You had every reason to let us go our separate ways, but you tried and still try to find common ground between our two vastly different worlds. And that, I’m pretty sure, makes you the best Horse Dad out there. You need a badge. Happy Father’s Day.

Love from your Crazy Horse Daughter.

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