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Hats Off to You, Dads

Father's Day Recap From Showplace Productions' Spring Spectacular Ring 6

The middle of June can only mean one thing in Chicago – the Showplace Productions' Spring Spectacular show series at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL is well underway. From warmbloods and thoroughbreds to ponies and horses, Spring Spectacular has it all: excellent facilities, world class trainers and judges, top quality vendors, riders from all ends of the globe, and horse show parents.
This Father’s Day, we want to recognize the unsung heroes of the equestrian world – the horse show dads. From holding ponies between classes in the blistering 90°F heat, running back to the barn for a bottle of fly spray, filming rounds on iPads, or sneaking their riders a drink of water between trips, the horse show dads are the most patient breed of all.
Most equestrian dads haven’t come from an equine background, but they are often the most eager to learn and have the most patience in doing so. Chicago Equestrian spent some time with these dads on their special day outside of ring 6 to ask about their transition into their roles in the equestrian community. 
“I’ve found there’s so much to learn, and there’s no upper limit to how much you can learn,” says Dan O’Neill, father of Galway Farm rider, Erica O’Neill. “She’s had a love of horses ever since she was a little girl, and it’s just fun to be out here and support her and encourage her and hopefully watch her be successful.”
There’s no denying the reason that these dads are so eager to adapt to a role that is so unfamiliar to many of them – they see the twinkle in their rider’s eyes lit by the passion for the animals and the sport. Mr. O’Neill says “… watching them progress from littler girls into kind of young women, and watch[ing] them grow and learn and progress,” has been his favorite part of the impact that horses have had on Erica’s life.

Dan O’Neill waiting ringside with his daughter, Erica, and her pony, Vespa.
The work of these dads doesn’t end or begin at the barn, however. Below you will find some of ring 6’s riders’ reasons why they love dad and all the things that he does. Thank you dads, and happy Father’s Day!
Erica O’Neill, Galway Farm
“He comes to horse shows with me.”

Erica O’Neill and Vespa put in a good round as her dad, Dan, films ringside.
Iris Gasser, Freedom Woods
“[He] get[s] me new stuff.”
Anna Rajski, Thoroughquest Acres
“He is funny, and he got me a dog.”
Brooklyn Engle, Treesdale Farm
“He always plays with me and plays games with me.”
Mary McCausland, Promise Hill Farm
“He’s really hard working, and he’s always been nice and kind.”

Mary McCausland sporting a smile over fences with Snow Day.
Olivia Galley, Capstone
“We like to ski together.”
Ashley Scofield, Camelot Farm
“He [took] me to the barn today, and he always does a lot for me.”
Skylar Hendricks, Legacy Equestrian
“He buys me whatever I really want, and he likes the horses.”
Madison Slade, Baskin Farms
“He’s better than my mom with the horses and comes out to the barn with me.”
Jack Crawford, Promise Hill Farm
 “He’s awesome”

Jack Crawford and Stonewall Surprise in the Short Stirrup class.
Ring 6 Gallery
photos by Nicole Janiga




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