Happy Mother’s Day!

Readers from around Horse Nation and Eventing Nation wanted to wish their moms a Happy Mother’s Day.  Here’s what they had to say…


I saw the call to arms about Mother’s Day and if anyone had any special stories to pass along….well here goes.  My EN friends….2013 will mark the 40th year anniversary of the O’Connor’s cross country trip, which started on Mother’s Day in 1973!  I talked with DOC about this on Friday and we both could not believe it was that long ago…yes….Sally, David, and I rode from the state of Maryland to the state of Oregon -2900 miles on HORSEBACK.  And you thought roads and tracks were hard to do in the long format!  And get this….we borrowed a horse from Ray Little….Marilyn Little’s Dad….and now she has been working with Karen for the  last two years.  Small world eh?  Sally has been working on the final version of the book of this trip and we hope to bring it to you in the near future.  40 yrs ago, I was 13 and DOC was 11….who’d have thunk that this would send us all on to future jobs, medals, and careers in the horse business?  30-35 miles a day for 3 1/2 months.  David says we should each write a book…Sally and me from the front of the line….and David from the back.  I have always said that I was the one who cleared out the brush and debris on the gold medalist’s journey…and Sally and our Dad, Jay, were the directors and support team.  Thanks Mom for the journey, and remember, if you EVER ask David , or I. to go on a hack again….sorry to say…NO WAY.  We love you Sally

-Brian (and David)  O’Connor

P.S.  Good luck to all the riders in Show Jumping on Sunday…..


My mom tore her ACL two days before NAYRC in 2007. Despite being in (what I would assume was) a lot of pain, she put on a brave face and walked the whole CCI* track with me. I was extremely nervous, but she rationalized that if she could make it around the course, so could I. That was one of the years is was held at the Virginia Horse Park. Those hill are no joke. I love you mom!

-Shannon Grube, West Chester, PA


Without my mother’s support I would not be where I am today with my horses. When I was a little girl she would take me to my riding lessons. Now as a grown up she is my biggest supporter. From accompanying me on horse shopping trips to getting me stuff I need to compete. If I am short of funding which happens frequently I ask if she is interested in a sponsorship opportunity and she always steps up to the plate. She comes and cheers me on at the shows and let’s me cry on her shoulder when things go wrong. She literally is the wind beneath my wings. None of it would be possible with out her and I am so grateful for her supporting my dreams!

-Ashley Giles (via EN’s Facebook page)


My mother was not as supportive of my eventing lifestyle as my father was, as she was afraid of horses. She would rarely attend shows because she would have anxiety attacks and end up crying because she was so nervous. The one event she did attend was one of the last at Trojan in Scottsdale, AZ. I was on a very neurotic OTTB(loved her to death though) and between the slippery footing and her bounding through the air we slipped in SJ warmup and fell sideways. Thank goodness my mother didn’t see any of this, but after SJ she asked me why I was covered in dirt. When she found out what had happened, she and one of dogs at the time(an airedale terrier) chased my trainer, in a full out run, all the way back to the trailer and then chased her throughout the barns and back to the trailer before my dad could get my mom to stop. My mom just wanted to have a “word” with my trainer. LOL! You gotta love a mom that does everything in the extreme. For a person that was terrified of horses, I had the best life growing up with them. Love you mom and always will. Unfortunately my mother is no longer here to share these stories with me, so I hope all you out there that still have the ability to spend time with your mom you do so and you remind them everyday that you love them and you thank them for all their sacrifices so you could go to one more show, or get that new bridle you wanted. Happy Mothers Day to all.

– EN Commenter Kate


My mom is so amazing! She is by no means a horse person, in fact she is a city girl who is allergic to them and slightly frightened by them. However, she took me to all of my lessons which is always forty- five minutes away no matter where we lived. She watched them, recorded them and always listened to my replay of the lesson. Now I have my own horse whom she took me to see before I got my license. She still asks how my horse is and has even sat on him. My mom has said she has visited more farm stores with me than she ever thought she would, and now they are her go to store. I LOVE my mom so much and am grateful for her sacrifices in order to help me pursue my passion.

-HN Commenter gemma


Happy Mother’s Day to the best and most supportive mum I know.  Without the help of mum, I wouldn’t have the opportunities to do what I love and compete at the highest level.  Most upper level eventers have full time grooms, working students to help exercise their horses and work with the younger ones, owners to help offset the costs of this very expensive sport, lessons with coaches who they can call for and afford a lesson with at any time.  Luckily for me, mum is there to help me with all of that.  Working full time and competing four horses is quite a job, and although I wish I could be at the barn all day long, the option just isn’t there for me.  Mum and I are a team, and I couldn’t ask for a better team leader to guide me through this crazy sport.

When I do well, mum is there to cheer me on and tell me how proud she is.  When things don’t go so great, mum tells me what I need to work on and what I should do next time (which is very much a Riley trait, as a hug and saying things will be okay just won’t do in our family.)  Three of my horses are homebreds, raised on Warren Hill Farm, which is a huge farm run by my mother.  Not only do I have my horses, but we have amazing boarders which mum sees to as well.  Of course there is also the maintaining of the farm and all the animals on it.  I truly believe my horses wouldn’t look so good anywhere else, mum knows best how to make them look and feel the way they do.  Mum has been at nearly every single competition I have ever competed at for the last 24 (?) years.  When she wasn’t able to be with me last fall, mum called constantly to see how things were going.

The picture attached is the evening after It’s The Truth and I completed our first advanced cross country together at Millbrook in 2012, with a clean round!  In June, mum and I will be making the long trek up north together for “Tom” and I to compete in the CCI***, someone please give a hand to hold as mum still tends to get a bit nervous when we go cross country!  After many many years of competing up and down the east coast, heartache and self-doubt with horses, traveling and fantastic working opportunities with top eventers only found with the help of mum, the upbringing of very special homebreds,  and the massive amount of strenuous hours and support given by mum, I know I couldn’t ask for a better mother and am so grateful and thankful for everything she has done for me (even if sometimes I forget to let her know).

-Liz Riley


Growing up on a farm in outback Queensland, whilst entertaining and adventurous for a child, was no cup of tea for the mother of an ambitious want-to-be rider. With every competition/clinic/trainer a minimum of 2 hours away and me not being if a driving age, Mum became my chauffeur. Equally a challenge for my long suffering mother was that we did not own a truck and trailer. I’m not sure how she did it, beg borrow or steal (pretty sure there was no begging or stealing..), she always made sure I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there. She worked many jobs to support me including; strawberry packer, woollies worker, burger flipper, and for a short period of time an Avon lady. So this Mother’s Day to thank her for her tireless contribution to my career I have written her this poem:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I may not be in Australia
But I still love you

-Kate Chadderton


Flashback, more than fifty years:
After much begging from one of my sisters and me, our family got a couple backyard horses: “Queenie,” a sweet, elderly Palomino mare for us (7!) kids, and “Silver,” a crafty, strong gray gelding that only Dad rode. My parents were both raised on farms, so they had a working knowledge of what to do. Dad kept fences in good repair, and rode with us often. Mom also rode, but more than that, she taught us to ride, tacked up for us until we were taller and strong enough to do it ourselves, kept the horses in decent health, repaired out hand-me-down tack, and even trimmed the horses’ hooves herself. I don’t know how she managed all this, with so many kids and so little time and money.

One spring, my parents agreed to board a young green-broke pinto gelding. In a few months, that grade gelding would become an American Legion Club raffle prize in our small Minnesota town. My mom turned “Little Joe” out with Queenie and Silver, and planned to put some finish on his basic training before the raffle. One day as she was riding Joe in our driveway, he reared up – high. Instead of grabbing mane as most riders would do, she lowered her heels and turned to us, smiling broadly and waving to us like a movie star cowboy, and we kids stood open-mouthed with amazement. All I could think was, “That’s my Mom!”

Of course now, looking back on that scene from 50 years ago, I think: How dangerous! No helmet! What was she thinking! But at the time, her wave seemed heroic.

When I think I don’t have enough time to go out to the barn where my horse is boarded, I remember Mom, with her houseful of kids and work – way more than I ever have on my plate! – making time to care for horses, teaching us to do the same, and creating wonderful memories to treasure.

– HN Commenter “mom’s heroics”


My mother is the backbone of my support system. She knows nothing about horses except that most of mine like their treats. So when she shows up at an event, the first thing she does is put 30 lbs of cookies in my horses’ bellies. She is the first to celebrate a win, or another milestone crossed, the first to put things in perspective when I’m being too hard on myself, and the first to offer a shoulder when things don’t go our way. She recently came up to watch me contest my first four star. We had a hard day on the cross country and my mom was immediately there with a sympathetic hug but also to remind me of how far we’ve come. That it was ok to be disappointed but not ok to sulk. How is it that mothers have the right words for every situation? Thank you mom for all the right words and the times that you just listened. Happy Mother’s day to all the moms out in Eventing Nation!

-Lindsey Oaks


My mom did all the amazing typical horse mom things when I was young, driving the trailer to horse shows, finding the money for lessons, clinics, and shows, and driving me to the barn every. single. day. until I got my license. All of which I am so incredibly grateful.But this Mother’s Day I’m particularly appreciative of her role as a horse mom now that I’m an adult and a mom myself. You see, I had 2 young children, a full time job and a husband who travels a lot. Times were particularly difficult and I had given up on horses. Riding just wasn’t in the cards or so I thought. But my mom knew how much horses mean to me and wouldn’t let me give up. She encouraged me to find a way. That maybe it’s not the time in my life to have a fancy, talented horse and travel all over creation to show but I could ride. I could take lessons. I could make it work and not give up. Soon after she and my father bought me an aged appaloosa gelding. He’s been absolutely perfect for me at this stage in my life. He can sit in the pasture when life is too crazy or I can participate in clinics and shows when time allows.  He can go to a show or fox hunt and give my children pony rides in the same weekend. He’s priceless and my lifeline when things get too crazy. I didn’t know how much I needed that lifeline but my mom did.

When I was ready to give up, my mother refused to give up on me. She found a way. And because of her I’ve been able to stay in the saddle. And that has been one of the most wonderful gifts she’s ever given me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the horse moms out there!

-Kelly Bryant


I was one of the lucky kids that had immense parental support behind my horse habit. My mom had grown up on a farm in Iowa where her family had a couple of horses and despite taking a well-timed kick to the stomach by a pony as a child she had grown up riding bareback and trail riding.  My parents rented a house on a farm in Maryland when I was born and I got bit by the bug early, thanks to the numerous horses on the property and the daughter of the farm owner who would take me around to all the horses and taught me how to take apart and clean a bridle before I was in kindergarten.  After we moved I took lessons off and on for a few years and finally got my own horse at 13, a small, chestnut Thoroughbred gelding with a perpetually worried expression called Hop Ashore who, despite not being the most athletic beast, (or sanest, to be honest), would try his heart out for me and was the only thing I asked for that Christmas.  Since I couldn’t yet drive, my mom woke up early every weekend to take me to the barn where I worked to help pay for board. During the weeknight, she drove her hour commute home from the college where she taught biology in downtown Baltimore only to turn around and drive me to the barn, and then return to pick me back up again two hours later.  Though we didn’t have much money my parents always found ways to let me get to some local unrecognized events and jumper shows, and once again my mom was the one to wake up at 4am, help me with my hair, and accompany me to the shows where she was my personal photographer and biggest cheerleader–in the five years before I left for college she missed only one event.  She loved Hop almost as much as I did–as he didn’t stand on the trailer, or tie, they bonded in the hours she spent hand grazing and walking him around the showgrounds while I walked my courses or tacked up.  She saw us work our way up from barely able to stay inside the dressage ring for an Elementary dressage test to winning our last event at Novice before heading off to college and four years of trying our hand in the hunter ring.In the spring of 2007, my sophomore year in college I started volunteering at a local horse rescue…and my mom got the inevitable phone call “Mom…can I bring home a second horse?” Somehow the answer was yes and a dark bay Thoroughbred gelding, “Owen” made the five-hour trip home with Hop.  That year my mom had struggled with a frozen shoulder and had gone through difficult and painful physical therapy to break up the scar tissue and regain function and range of motion in her left arm.  As she was healing she mentioned maybe now that I had two horses we could do some trail riding together and promptly went out to buy a helmet.  For the first time in over twenty years she got on a horse again.  Hop, who had become much more trustworthy in our time together, was a foot perfect lesson pony and tried to do his best to figure out what my mom wanted when she reverted back to Western and tried neck reining, or got jostled while attempting to figure out posting and dropped the reins in favor of grabbing mane.  My mom had the biggest smile on her face, and we talked about getting her some lessons and the following summer we’d start taking our frequent hikes from horseback.That November I took Owen to our first event together: Beginner Novice at the Virginia Horse Trials.  I had managed to break my arm in the joint capsule of the elbow two weeks earlier and was still in a sling and on pain medication, so my mom and my younger brother drove down for the event (I think to talk me out of competing!).  It should have been a disaster…Owen’s first event, his first time jumping a full stadium course, let alone in the scary Coliseum at the Virginia Horse Center, we hadn’t schooled cross-country in five months…mom kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this.  I was.  She watched with perhaps her heart in her chest as we defied the odds and won our division.  As I dismounted after the finish line on the cross country course I turned to look for her and she gave me two thumbs up, her camera dangling around her neck, and a huge smile on her face.Two months later she died in a freak accident while scuba diving.She never got to see my college or graduate school graduation, she won’t get to see my brother graduate college, or meet grandchildren, or read my dissertation.  And though she would be so proud of all of those things, I also know she would have been just as proud to see Owen and me compete successfully at Training level, she would have stood behind me in my decision earlier this year to retire Owen from jumping due to some soundness issues and would be just as excited to see us moving up to Second level in the dressage sandbox this summer (As long as he doesn’t read this and hurt himself…again).My mother was an amazing woman and I am so proud to call myself her daughter.  She showed me every day how rewarding life is when you are passionate about what you do and the necessity to be stubborn in your pursuit of that life, and in her death she taught me to never take anything for granted and to value each moment you have with someone you love, whether it be equine or human.  And one day I hope to take my own child on a horseback hike through the woods.

-Kara Clissold


With mother’s day approaching I wanted to do something special to show my gratitude for my mom and all the spectacular things she has done for me, especially for my horseback riding career.

Ever since the age of three when I began riding my mom has been in full support of my riding career. At the age of five she went and brought me a little 11 hand Shetland pony named Misty. My mom began with simple lead line and then when I got good enough would take me on trail rides on her appaloosa mare with me behind her riding Misty being led with a lunge line.

Right before my sixth birthday I was trotting along by myself and my pony spooked and I popped off landing on my arm breaking it. I wasn’t mad at my pony, but mad that I had to spend my sixth birthday party in a pink cast and sling having to be led around on my pony rather than trotting all by myself in front of me friends. Even not being able to fully enjoy my party with a broken arm my mom made it one of my favorite birthday parties that I can remember having us paint pumpkins and giving all my friends pony rides.

Now 10 years later at the age of 16 I am currently eventing novice on my thoroughbred chestnut mare Autumn. If it weren’t for my mom I would not be where I am today. She wakes up at the crack of dawn to drive me hours away for a show and asks for nothing in return. She walks cross country with me and is my groom for every show, but most importantly she is my number one fan. I can always hear her on cross country yelling “Go Abby!!!” She is there for me to give me a huge hug after we finish double clear saying how proud she is of me and Autumn. She knows when to hug me and hold me tight and when to just leave me alone when I have a bad dressage test.

I wanted to write this article hoping that it will show the gratitude I have for my mom, I might not say it often but I am her number one fan. She has three kids and still manages to have time for each of us; she put her riding career on hold so we could be the stars. I am hoping to be her groom at shows this year so I can repay the favor of all she has done for me and my sisters over the years. This article wasn’t just for my eventing mom but to all the eventing moms out there being their children’s number one fans that get up at the crack of dawn to bathe and braid horses for their children because they love them.

Now all I would like to say is thank you Mom for everything you have done for me and I love you very much and Happy Mother’s day to all the eventing moms out there from mine to yours!!!

-Abby C.

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