I have been made fun of when wearing my breeches. I get questions such as ,”What's with the skinny pants?” My response, “There are three people who change into skinny pants when they are about to do something heroic - Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and me.” No, I don't jump over tall buildings or use high tech gizmos to fight crime but I do get on the back of a huge Hanovarian and ride. Does this make me a hero? Maybe, maybe not, but I can tell you of one group of people who are without a doubt heroes and they are the Barn Moms.
To quote Joseph Campbell, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” This is the perfect description of those woman who not only bring new life into this world but also nurture it in the most extraordinary way. They take their daughters and occasional son to the barn and selflessly allow their children to learn to ride horses.
For some of these mothers this is a natural progression. They grew up riding and now they are passing on the experience to their children. For other mothers it is not as easy as that. It can be nerve wracking to watch your child ride a horse, even more so if you have never ridden. I would like to ease those moms minds. I have been to so many horse shows that I have lost count yet I can tell you the number of serious falls I have seen is zero. Yes it can be a dangerous sport but if your child is under the watchful eye of a good instructor it is safer than driving in a car.
Horse moms not only drive their children to the barn but many of them help on show days. They will roll out of bed at four in the morning so that their children can get their horses ready for the day. There is a level of commitment here that goes beyond what other parents endure for their child athlete. Not only is there a child to prepare for the show but there is an equine athlete that needs attention.
The dedication does not end with the preparation of rider and horse. There are many 'Barn Moms' who help with shows. At the stables in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where I do a lot of my photography it is 'Barn Moms' who are behind the scenes. They give up a lot of their free time not only to bring their children to the shows but then give up even more to help run the show. These are parents who are truly engaged in what their children are doing.
Last Sunday was Mother's Day and we were at Sharon Oaks Stables taking photos and shooting video. My assistant Tanja, a mom in her own right, was there taking photos. I think she can be labeled a true 'Barn Mom' in the sense that she spent a day dedicated to woman such as herself by capturing memories for the other moms who were at the show. Add to that fact that Tanja also rides and I think you would have to agree that she fits the mold of 'Barn Mom'. There was a class where the moms rode horses in the ring and afterwards they were awarded a bottle of wine. They earned every drop of that vintage, not just for riding, but for all they have done for their children. I made sure that Tanja got her bottle too for all her efforts.
Be it Merlot, Cabernet or Zinfandel, the next time you are sipping a glass of wine propose a toast to those unsung heroes of the horse world by raising a glass to the 'Barn Mom', she has truly earned all of our respect.
Photo by Tanja Hemric