Recently, we asked the OR community to share stories and photos that represent all the ways in which motherhood has influenced multiple generations of riders, and were not disappointed. We wish the happiest of Mother’s Days to all of the devoted horse moms mentioned below, and the throngs of hard-working, supportive, loving, understanding moms that have helped us all fulfill our [very expensive, time consuming, dirty, stinky, dangerous] dreams!
The Woman Who Started It All
By Amanda Thurston, Dressage Rider
I’ve never been a morning person; not even now, well into my very professional, pulled together thirties. Getting me up in the morning is no small feat — it involves a lot more kicking and screaming than I’m proud to admit. I look back in complete wonder at the 3 AM horse show and assorted USPC wake-up calls of my youth, especially after long nights of tack cleaning, laundry, and horse management labeling, and I know that I never would have become the horsewoman I am without my mother. She was the last one to bed, rolling polo wraps or taking over for me when I ran out of Tanner’s oil steam. She was the first one awake, dutifully hooking up the trailer, delivering coffee and breakfast, and using our Springer Spaniel as distraction from the early wake-up-call agony. She was rarely the one on the horse, though a passionate equestrian herself. My training, my goals and the care of my mounts always came before her own love of riding.
In recent years, that changed. In her horse, Jonathan, she found her own soulmate. The kind you don’t know you want and certainly didn’t know you needed and, yet, there he is. He was merely a slice of the joy she so richly deserves; perfectly imperfect, and the best partner a pony girl could ask for. He is no longer with us, and I wish, more than anything in the world, that they had more time together.
To my #1 fan, and the woman who started it all: thank you. For showing me that stalls come before saddle time. For enduring the 14 hour Kentucky hauls with Gretchen Wilson blaring on the radio. For knowing that a hug around a maned neck is the cure to every bad day. For caring for my boys when I wasn’t, and for making the hardest decisions when I couldn’t. For loving Vic, Moose and J2 as much as I did. For the sacrifices, the smiles, and the ultimate gift of horse crazy. I love you, Mom.
“My mum has always been very competitive. When my sister Brook and I were kids we were both involved in a lot of sports. If one of us said, ‘I just want to have fun’, she’d respond, ‘Winning is fun’.”
– Boyd Martin, Second Generation Olympian
It’s A Family Affair
by Amy Singer, Showjumper & Ponymom
“It’s a Girl!!” they screamed!! And suddenly I understood. I knew I would have been happy and fulfilled with a healthy baby no matter what. I also knew with the next one (who was/is a boy) how special that relationship is with a mother and her son. But the girl… there’s something about the girl…
Sienna was born and suddenly I saw ponies and “horse show bows” and pink polo wraps and unicorns in my purview. That was it. It was like some strange sort of horse-related primal instinct. I actually secretly hoped (and still do) she would hate horses. It’s the world’s most expensive sport, and it sucks you in like some sort of horror movie, but I also secretly wanted to strap her into the baby bjorn and get her on a horse by 6 weeks old. Not kidding. It was like that. And so we did.
I took her to the barn… She got on “Misty Moo” on her own at about 10 months old and fell in love. And at that point, all I could think of was her first lead line class, preferably on Mother’s Day on the field at Old Salem farm. Just like how I’d always envisioned it. We asked my childhood trainer (Abbi Ferrigno plug) to “lend us a pony” for the afternoon, and what does she do?? She lends us a unicorn. A legit, real-life white show pony with a pink nose that was the most gorgeous little thing you’ve ever seen in your life. Sienna’s jaw hit the floor, as did mine.
She won the lead line that day (these days, everybody wins…), and all I could think was, “Will she want this? Will she become obsessed? Will she want to ‘jump the big jumps’ like her mama one day? Does any of this matter.” And so we bought our first lesson package (we didn’t buy the pony, just the lessons!).
Two years of lessons later, my concerns went from, “Will she love it?” to, “Will she work for it? Will she earn it?” But the real bottomline…none of it matters. We are lucky and grateful to have horses and ponies in our lives, and I know I will cherish every moment we can do it together. It will be a happy Mother’s Day for me if I spend it watching her ride around on a grassy field, ribbons or not!
“My mother was always my biggest champion and supporter. I could never thank her enough for teaching me to be brave, kind, and above all compassionate. She never missed a single lesson, horse show, or chance to support me in this crazy horse endeavor.”
– Alia Driscoll, Showjumper
“My not-so-horsey mother fueled my obsession with Black Beauty when I was 7 years old by taking me for a riding lesson, and I don’t think she realized that I would be hooked for life. Thus began the many trips to the barn, summer camps and countless horse shows; early morning wake ups to get to the show only to sit by the ring for hours till my class; and the times I know she covered her eyes when we jumped! I can’t thank her enough for all the support that filled this passion that continues on today!”
– Emily Wagenheim, Hunter Rider
“I am so thankful that I can share my passion for horses with my mom. I want her to know that she is one of my best friends. I love spending time with her at the barn and I am so glad we can share this horse fever together.”
– Amy Franklin, Hunter Rider
4* Show Mom
by Mikki Kuchta, 4* Eventing Rider and Trainer
My mother was horse crazy her whole life, but didn’t own a horse of her own until she was married and living in South Africa. When our family returned to the States, we would take weekly family riding lessons, but didn’t own a horse until I was 14 years old. My mother started a part time job, so that she could buy a horse for my sister and I to ride.
From that first horse to present day, I have always had horses in my life. My mother supported my riding and showing with endless hours of grooming, preparing, driving the horse trailer, standing by the side of the arena to help and cheer me on, and mostly, encouraging me to never give up when I had poor performances.
Without her, I truly would never have become the horsewoman I am today, and I never would have made it to the highest level of eventing.
“3 years ago my mom bought me the best little pony ever, Bad Boy Leroy Brown. I saw him before and told my mom I really wanted him. The next month I walked into the barn and saw a cute little pony that looked just like Leroy. I turned around and realized he was my little Leroy. I turned and hugged as Hard as could. I love you mom!”
– Grace Glennie, AKA @breyer_horse_nation
Raised In A Barn
by Kimberly Geunther, #AQHAproud Horse Mom
My mom bought her first horse at age 16 with her babysitting money. My sister and I grew up playing in the dirt and making up games to play with my mom’s gelding while she cleaned stalls to cover the board cost. It evolved into 4-H, and making my mom drive us to every schooling show around all summer. We finally convinced my mom to resume her goals of showing and riding for herself, not just as a horse-show-mom. Over the past decade we’ve logged thousands of miles as a family, and the past two years have been a 3-generation caravan as my little girl, Shelby, joins us at the shows and on the road trips. Shelby loves animals, dirt, and sunshine. She’s taken to wearing my boots and dragging around the rake in an attempt to help clean stalls. It’s truly a joy to raise my little girl “in a barn”!
“My mom has been my biggest fan, supporter, and best friend all throughout my riding career. She drove the trailer and braided my horse all the time since I was a young girl. The day I won the USET finals we were driving home and hit traffic. She rolled down the window to the car next to us and said ”My daughter just won the USET finals!” I will never forget how proud she was. It was like she won herself. Through ups and down, thick and thin, she has been the best mother a girl could ask for!! Love you, M!”
– Jackie McQuade, Grand Prix Showjumper