We Ask the Industry – Father’s Day Edition: How has Being a “Horse Show Dad” Impacted Your Life?
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 2018
Maybe he’s the cowboy who inspired your love for horses and riding. Perhaps he’s the one who drove the truck and trailer faithfully up and down the road. Or maybe he’s the one who would have preferred to take his golf cart to an actual course instead of a horse show.
No matter what his special role in your life is, he’s your horse show dad, and he’s got your back.
Whether he’s the show dad who has never ridden a horse or the veteran trainer coaching on the sidelines, your show dad is your rock.
In honor of Father’s Day, we asked fathers how being a “Horse Show Dad” has changed their life as a father.
Greg Tordoff – (pictured above) Being a horse show dad has taught me that a 4 am practice is somehow reasonable, grilling in the rain can be done, carrying around a little dog has to be sometimes done, and I can manage an RV septic system with the best of them. I have thoroughly enjoyed having my girls compete in a sport that has involved our entire family, and we have memories that I am sure the girls will remember forever. Watching our girls show and compete has allowed me to see our girls personify the values we talk about all the time; work hard, be humble, be kind and don’t take yourself too seriously. We have laughed hard and developed friendships that will last a lifetime, so while my golf game, liver and wallet have suffered, my heart is full with all the gifts of seeing my girls show and being a horse show dad.
Phil Harris – First, let me start by saying that it is an honor to be a father. I have been blessed to have two extraordinary sons. God blessed me with Preston and Stanton and they embody what every father desires to have in his sons – being a horse show dad is so awesome. My father was a true horse show dad and gave me the foresight and desire to raise my sons in the horse show world. It is so nice to know that when we load for the next show, Preston and Stanton will be going with me. I am doing my dream job by being able to make a living doing what I love. My sons have always been a massive part of our livelihood, and it makes me proud to see them carrying on the family business and becoming such a large part of the horse show world. Our horse show family has helped to develop what my sons have become. Being a horse show father, I can’t stress enough what a great environment horse showing has been to my family. Thanks to all who have been a part of this journey and a big happy Father’s Day to all the horse show dads.
Jim Brown – Emma is an only child, and when she was younger, I wanted something fun to do with her. So, we decided to take her to horse riding lessons, and that has escalated into a fantastic hobby that our entire family enjoys so much. Being a father in the industry has made Emma and I become so close due to long car rides and emotional ups and downs that come along with this sport we all love so much. I wouldn’t change a single thing about what we do. We have so much fun and have created such a fantastic bond through showing.
Greg Wheat – Being a horse show dad is great. I love being able to spend time with Steve riding at home and the horse shows. It allows us to spend a lot of time together every day, and it is great to see him being excited about placing at the horse shows and a bigger thrill to be his dad.
Don Bell – For me, being a dad is the scariest and most rewarding job in the world. Both of our daughters ride and have their horses, but my oldest daughter, Trinity is the one starting to show. In January, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Since then, she has taken insulin shots daily. We have since made some pretty significant changes at home to accommodate her needs and make sure we are making correct educated decisions. Being a “horse show dad” has given me a chance to show my kids how to set goals and overcome adversity. They can tackle anything if they set their hearts and minds to the task.
Troy Compton – Being a horse show dad is one of the perks of my job. If my son, Cole isn’t at the show, it seems as if I’ve always got a young person around me. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see one of my kids who rides with me succeed in the horse business.
Danny Ratliff – Working two jobs to afford it, juggling my schedule to go to the shows, sitting for endless hours, spending some unforgettable time with them…worth every penny. It taught the girls how to lose and how to win.
Kevin Smith – Being a horse show dad has been incredibly rewarding. To see my girls both grow up displaying a passion for horses has been a massive part of our family. The dedication, discipline, the compassion they have for horses, dogs, all animals makes my heart smile. When the girls grow up in a barn, they stay out of the malls. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Garry McAllister – I think the biggest thing I take away from being around other children and their parents at horse shows is that there is no substitute for time. Even though the shows are incredibly demanding and preparing for the shows is even more so, I always try to make the time to spend with my son, Joey and my daughter, Jessica. Be it taking a quick trip across town with Joey talking about his “stuff” or making a cross-country journey with Jessica discussing her goals and dreams. I have tried to support both my children in their future endeavors and just being available to them to share their thoughts about life has brought me closer to them as a dad.
Dr. Scott Myers – As busy veterinarians, my wife and I tried not to lose sight that the most critical element we had in common was that we were both raised in loving, close-knit families, and wanted to provide the same environment for our daughters. Separate from our small and large animal practices, we both enjoyed showing horses as amateur exhibitors, which thankfully rubbed off on Taylor and Mallory. There has been no higher satisfaction than watching our daughters develop lifelong relationships through the horse industry while amassing cherished memories along the journey. Whether we caravanned to shows with friends, enjoyed family meals together in the motorhome, or just spent late nights riding and caring for our horses before early morning classes, the experience as a father has been irreplaceable. Taylor and Mallory also competed for Miami University’s equestrian team, which ensured that we visited them often in college to watch them show. As a family, the horse show lifestyle is something we cherish, and would not trade. Now, as both girls follow our path to vet school, it is heartwarming to watch history repeating itself.
Michael Vargo – Being a horse show dad has been one of the most fulfilling things in my life. Watching my daughter and my wife work as a team has been exceptional. The other part of being a horse show dad that I enjoy is seeing the accomplishments my daughter has achieved in a sport that I was not able to experience the same successes. It has been fascinating as a father of a multiple Youth World Champion being able to watch her grow and mature in a sport that hopefully allows her to compete at a collegiate level. Then, the bonus is that it will be at my alma mater, The University of South Carolina.
Happy Father’s Day from GoHorseshow to all the wonderful horse show dads in our industry.
Do you have some sweet memories and pictures with your horse show dad from shows? Let us know.