I grew up having a great relationship with my father. We had our scuffles, as any teenage girl would have with her dad, but for the most part we were two peas in a pod. We both would lose our heads if they weren’t attached, could watch hours of History Channel, and we had a weekly date where we would go the barn, I would ride, and then we’d go gorge ourselves on Taco Bell. Just us two.
See, my dad was the enabler. He worked insane hours when I was first getting into riding, but always managed to run in right before I’d go into the ring for my class, or would take me to go look at the beautiful tack stores when we had a quiet minute. When we would lesson in the fields, I would randomly see him wander up, sit on a hill to watch from a safe distance. He was not a horse guy before 11-year-old me dragged him into this world, but the man gave it everything. He learned to hold, graze, scrape, feed, and use his height to help hurl me into the saddle of some very large “dogs” as he called them.
But it wasn’t really money that he used to enable me. Him and my mother early on drew the line on finances, and I fell in line, grateful for what I had. Everything else, he challenged. Did I want to ride more? Great, what can he do to help me find a job? Am I complaining about a not great ride? He’d drive my butt out there the next day to redo the exercise. Looking back, I feel like he gave me so much, but it was the power to realize my own abilities. I was capable of fixing this issue myself. I could have pride in my own accomplishments instead of running to him about everything.
As an adult, he was the one I called crying when I thought I had to sell my horse. He made me literally explain to him why, and made me realize how stupid my reasoning was without ever actually saying that. Years later, when I did sell my mare, he stood in the barn office and watched through the window as she left. He didn’t come out to meet the new owner, or hold my hand. He just stood by quietly, letting me go through this on my own.
As I moved forward, he played nanny to my small daughter while I snuck in lessons or rides. They would roam the barn chasing cats, or petting the mom approved horses.
He enabled me by saying no.