With national Grandparents Day upon us, I started reflecting about my kids’ grandfather, and his impact on all of us, his children and grandchildren. First let me state, although he would cringe to hear this, my father is both an Equestrian Dad and Equestrian Grandparent. His cringing would come from the fact that he grew up on a farm and thinks of all animals as utilitarian; horses pull plows, cats keep mice out of the barn and dogs guard the farm. They are not “pets”.
When my sisters and I were kids, we lived on a hobby farm for a couple of years and that was when he first broke this cardinal rule of his; he bought us a couple of old farm horses to ride. The horses were old and retired from years of plowing someone’s fields. With the fearlessness of kids who didn’t know how to ride, we rode bareback, trail rode and matched wits with a stubborn old pony who blew his stomach out when we tried to tighten his girth and always found a way to make a quick side swipe into the nearest tree branch in an attempt to knock off the rider. ( I recall we ended our relationship at about a 50/50 success rate)
We named our 3 horses, groomed them, fed them treats all the time and worried about them continually. The horses lived in the pasture with a small shed for protection from the weather. My (equestrian) dad would scowl at us when we went on and on worrying about whether they were too hot, too cold or hungry. “Horses are work animals, not pets” he would tell us. One day we went to an auction looking to buy another saddle (Logical. We had 3 horses so wanted 3 saddles so someone didn’t always have to ride bareback) but, of course, according to my dad, saddles were frivolous! As the sale went on, we finally saw a saddle we thought would be great for us kids. It was $200. More than my dad wanted to spend back then but through group whining and begging, he bought it for us. Dad went to the cashier to pay for it and returned to us with a glum look on his face; we waited for whatever bad news he had for us. Turns out, the news was amazing; for $200 he got a horse with the saddle!!! Thus was created a new standard for my dad; $200 dollars gets a horse and saddle.
Fast forward to my Equestrian daughter. My dad, her (Equestrian-NOT) grandfather, loved and supported her in any and all of her sports endeavors including horse back riding. However, to this day he can’t get his mind wrapped around the cost of the sport. He can’t imagine why my daughters horse “needs” so much care and “fussing over”. Dad can’t imagine a “farm animal” that costs over a couple hundred dollars to say nothing about any of the other expenses, but he never asks and we never tell! My preliminary eventer daughter on the other hand, can’t envision a $200 horse. In her horse world, $200 would buy a trip to the vet (something my dads horses never did including floating their teeth which my dad did himself with a file while we kids held the horse).
So I celebrate 3 generations of “riders” and especially my (Equestrian) dad and (Equestrian) grandfather. Happy Grandparents Day Dad!!!
-Susan Boche, Equestrian Mom