An Ode to Horse Show Parents

Dear horse show parents:

Where would we be without you? You’re the best. You’re killing the game. You’re the reason your child gets to the showgrounds on-time, even early, before 5:00 AM. Because of you they had the lessons and learned the skills necessary to show their horse successfully all while learning many life lessons. Thanks to your encouragement, they learned to face their fears and get back in the saddle after a bad fall. And they’re better because of it.

When your child started out with horses, it seemed innocent enough. Most parents are naive enough to believe that the incessant begging for lessons, horse supplies, and the works will be satiated with a few lessons or horse camp. For some, that’s it. But for others, that’s just the beginning. Cue MVP horse parents. Those lessons and camps turn into fun shows, followed by a horse lease and “real” rated shows with large entry fees and expensive outfits, then onto custom saddles, new horses, and more. If your child spends more time at the barn than they do at home, you most certainly can sympathize, and so can your fuel bill.

The impact you’re making now and the opportunities you’re affording your children will take them much further than placing in the ring. Horses are hard work, in and out of the saddle. The time spent caring for the horse, preparing the horse to be ridden, maintaining the horse’s condition through the farrier and vet isn’t for the faint of heart. Horse kids aren’t afraid to work hard and get dirty. They’re not afraid of hand walking a colicky horse, heading to the barn in frigid temperatures to add another blanket to their horse, thanks to you. The art of time management comes as they balance schoolwork, a social life, and horses. They learn to receive both negative and positive feedback, and how to apply both to improve themselves.

As a horse show parent, you wear a lot of hats. You're a mom or dad, the videographer and photographer, the cheerleader, chauffeur, groom, life coach, hitching post, and more. You’re expected to know the difference between a bridle and a halter, record the round and take pictures, tighten cinches and more, all at the same time. On show day, after packing the outfits, the lunches, and then the car, you still make sure your child arrives to the barn on time. Amid the chaos, you step back and realize you’re raising the next generation of leaders who have had the experience of caring for, controlling, and learning from a half-ton animal who has a mind of its own. What horses and showing teaches your child is something they wouldn’t learn in a classroom.

You’re the biggest cheerleaders, you’re the horse show parents. Thank you mom and dad. We salute you!