|My awesome dad and his wonderful wife, Pam.|
My dad is awesome. He’s supported my equestrian activities from the get-go, driving me to lessons and shows, mounting me on an endless string of questionable horses, building a barn and a riding arena in the pasture (that he fenced himself), acting as an outrider for my cross-country schoolings, manning the weed-eater at work parties for improving the local park’s cross-country course, volunteering at Pony Club events.
He kept Moe in the pasture for nearly four years while I worked out how to find a way to bring him here. He taught me to drive the truck and trailer, and eventually gave me the trailer instead of selling it. He taught me to be a good sport when I lost and be gracious when I won. He regularly acted as my coach at shows, even though I almost always ignored him. (Turns out he gave pretty sound advice- all those years of watching my lessons paid off.)
There are many stories I could tell about my dad’s equestrian pursuits. But in honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to share with you perhaps the best story about my dad (and my mom), a horse, and me. I don’t remember the events, so I’ll tell you the version my cousin (who was visiting at the time) recounted to me a couple of years ago.
I was a baby, perhaps about six months old, when my mom decided to take me on a brief ride on her horse. Her horse, Romeo, was an Arabian gelding she’d received for free from a coworker. According to family lore, it took three hours to catch him in the pasture and another five to load him in the horse trailer. Romeo eventually ended up as a functioning member of equine society; my mom took some hunter/jumper lessons on him and he served as a trail mount for family excursions around the farm.
So into the saddle went my mom, and into her arms went me. By all accounts, things were going just fine, when all of a sudden, Romeo spooked at nothing. Perhaps it was a bird or a deer. Perhaps it was one of our cows. Perhaps I cried. In any case, Romeo took a sideways leap, dislodging my mother and me. We hit the ground- my mom says she clutched me like a football to protect me.
According to my cousin, my dad was furious. He didn’t bother to check on my mother and me- he went directly to Romeo, caught him, and did what any sensible person would do. My dad punched the horse in the face. My cousin swears up and down my dad socked the horse right in his nose exactly once; my dad denies it. My mom doesn’t recall- I imagine she was too busy making sure I was still alive.
All ended well- Romeo had a home with us until we moved. I was fine (although a favorite joke is “So that’s what’s wrong with you!”), my mom was fine, my cousin was suitably impressed. My dad? Well, my dad insists he’s never punched a horse. But I like to believe otherwise.