I don't think dads get quite the same recognition in the equine world as do moms. Moms are right out there in the action. They're adjusting coats, polishing boots, giving last minute tips, and snapping photos.
Dads? They tend to do their work when no one is watching. They change the oil, keep the trailer in good working order, build fences, fix gates, haul heavy loads of everything, fix broken water lines, and the list goes on.
My dad is no exception. I don't live at home for him to help me with these things anymore, but he has my step mom around for that. He built the goat pens, the garden, the rock walls, the chicken coop, and the list still goes on.
I have a lot to thank my dad for. Both my parents are very independent and self-suffiencet people, and my dad wanted the same for me. I don't know whether my dad wanted a boy or not, but he never held it against me that I was a girl. He taught me how to use a splitting maul, how to ride a motorcycle, how to shoot a gun, how to use a screw driver (righty-tighty, lefty-loosey), and how to drive a truck. He took me camping, hiking, and fishing and taught me to be comfortable in the outdoors. I don't think I could have ridden 100 mile endurance races had I been worried about the dark in the woods.
My dad is not one to worry about getting hurt, and he never let me think that way either. Athletic and adventurous outings were, and still are, high on his list. He's an avid skier (he even wears a helmet!), fisherman, hiker, and world traveler. He is always ready for an adventure and jumps at any chance to try something new. He doesn't throw caution to the wind, but he doesn't dwell on what might happen either. Realizing what a great opportunity it was, he let me do a year-long study abroad when I was only seventeen years old!
Growing up, he let me do things on my own, and I am grateful for that. With his help, we designed and built two corrals and a makeshift tack room that I maintained. When we bought hay, I frequently drove it up the hill to the corrals and unloaded it myself. I learned how to stack hay to minimize molding and waste. I was also responsible for the horses' water and learned to keep it as full as possible at all times because sometimes we ran out of water. To this day I can hardly pass a water trough without topping it off.
I learned a lot from my dad about how to use tools, fix things that were broken, and take care of the chores that come with owning horses. He taught me a lot about being independent and how to rely on myself. I know it is because of him that I am not afraid to load my horses up and travel hundreds of miles from home by myself. I know that if I run into trouble I'll be able to come up with a solution, or I'll be able to find someone that can help me.
Two memories of my dad that really stand out are when he helped me rescue a newborn colt and when he helped me run for the Garberville Rodeo Queen. I have no idea what inspired me to want to run for rodeo queen, but once the idea started, I couldn't let it go. At the time, all it took was ticket sales to win the title of queen. Humboldt County is in a very rural part of the state and towns are quite small, fewer than 2,000 people in many cases. My high school had less than 400 kids in the entire school, and the little town where we lived had fewer than 400 people in it!
Selling tickets meant driving to a lot of different small towns. At 14, a driver's license was still a few years off. That meant my dad had to truck me all over the southern part of the county selling tickets door to door and in front of a lot of small businesses. He even drove me a hundred miles to Mendocino County so I could sell tickets at their rodeo. I don't know whether my whole endeavor was a big pain in the butt or not, but my dad participated with enthusiasm. I won, of course, which just meant even more work for my dad.
Winning meant getting my horse to town for the parade and then out to the rodeo grounds so that I could ride in the grand entry. We didn't have a trailer, but my dad managed to locate one that we borrowed for the weekend. I camped out at the rodeo grounds and had the time of my life.
That's what I most enjoy about my dad: his can do attitude. I don't think there is anything my dad can't do. Nothing is too hard or out of reach, and I am grateful that he made sure I grew up to feel the same way.
Thanks, Dad. Happy Father's Day!