A Day to Recognize Horse-Show Dads

Photo courtesy Karissa Oliver Photo courtesy Karissa Oliver

It’s no secret that competing and completing an event takes an army. Behind the coaches and trainers, the teammates, the vets, the farriers, and everyone else, you will find the core of many a young rider’s support team – the parents. While horse-show moms are an incredibly appreciated and dedicated member of the eventing community, I’d like to take a minute to fondly recognize not only my own horse-show dad, but horse-show dads everywhere.

I don’t think my dad ever saw himself purchasing a horse in his life, and especially not a 15.2 hand, spitfire Holsteiner gelding named Magic. But in the fall of my senior year in high school, I got my biggest wish – a horse of my own – and my family has never looked back. Magic became not only a part of our everyday lives, but part of our family. Our family picture taken in the spring of my last year in high school included my mother, father, brother, myself, our dog and Magic.

We had purchased Magic knowing that he would attend college at the University of California, Davis with me. He was going to study dressage, we would say. But in my first year of college, I became even closer with my dad than before. Having retired that year, he agreeably made the trip by himself from San Diego to a number of shows in Area VI – Woodside, Twin Rivers, Fresno County.

Even at a horse show, dads always have jokes. Photo courtesy Karissa Oliver

Even at a horse show, dads have jokes. Photo courtesy Karissa Oliver

Having my dad at shows was a dream – free labor to help me change water buckets, walk cross-country courses and buy me dinner at the end of the day. But in this time, I also got to watch my dad be a dad not only to me, but to my teammates on the UCD 3-Day Event Team as well. I watched my dad console my friend Nikki after her difficult cross-country ride at Twin. I’ve watched my dad for almost three years now be a dad to all the girls on my team – helping polish their boots as they head to the dressage court, dragging water buckets to be dumped, discussing elements of the cross country courses and cheering them on during all of their rides.

I’ve had my share of quarrels with my dad while showing. The countless times I’ve been made fun of for having run-outs at corners on cross-country, the endless nagging and being told to clean my tack, and the ever-present reminder from my dad that he bought my two new saddles for Magic, not me. In the moment, I usually resort to a text to my mom, telling her how annoyed I am. But I will cherish and remember these four great years of eventing in college with my dad, in that I am so lucky to have my biggest fan at all of my shows.

To my dad, and all the horse-show dads out there, thank you for being an integral part of your children’s riding lives and the eventing community. We couldn’t do it without you!