Friday, Jun. 14, 2024

Celebrating The Dads Who Ride For A Living

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Riding is an all-consuming sport, even for the hobbyist. Do it as a profession, and you’re likely to see more of your barn than you do of your house—and more of your horses than of your family. For dads who ride professionally, their kids’ weekends off from school are often their own busy show days. With a dozen U.S. Equestrian Federation-recognized shows running on Father’s Day, June 16, not to mention countless more local competitions around, a lot of those dads are likely to be at work on their big day, but we know they still make time to spend with their kids, no saddles or equids in sight. 

To celebrate this Father’s Day, we asked some riding dads how they most like to spend time outside the barn with their kids. The answer, across the board, was outdoors, from fishing and ziplining to hiking and wakeboarding.

Show jumper Charlie Jayne

Charlie Jayne splits his time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Wellington, Florida, and he and wife Nicole Jayne have found fun things to do with their 2 ½-year-old son AJ in both locations.

Charlie and AJ Jayne. Photo Courtesy Of Charlie Jayne

“We love activities,” Charlie said. “AJ loves doing things, and he loves being outside. In the summer we did swim class once a week with him. In the wintertime he has a sing and dance class that he absolutely loves. Just as much as we can be outside either swimming in the pool or playing with his cousins, we try to be outside unless it’s Florida and it’s too hot. For the first year I was in the water with him for swim class, but now he’d graduated to the next class up. 

“We love exploring,” he added. “We have an annual pass to Lion Country Safari [in Loxahatchee, Florida], so he loves animals not just horses. We go there once a week in the wintertime, get to see all the different animals. We always try to end the day by having dinner together.”

Dressage rider Julio Mendoza Loor

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Julio Mendoza Loor, who will be representing Ecuador at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games after earning his home country’s first individual gold medal in dressage at the 2023 Pan American Games, runs Mendoza Dressage in Columbus, North Carolina, with his wife Jessica Mendoza. 

In their free time with their children, ages 22, 20 and 17, the family likes to get to the water—or the treetops.

“Fishing for sure! Boating on the pontoon in the lake, tubing, kayaking and treetop adventures” like ziplining and adventure courses are among their favorite things to do, he said.

Eventer Buck Davidson

Eventer Buck Davidson is based in Ocala, Florida, but he likes to sneak back to the water near his childhood home of Unionville, Pennsylvania, whenever he gets the chance. He shares a boat with fellow eventer Danny Warrington, and the pair take Davidson’s daughters Aubrey, 8, and Ellie, 3, out on the water in North East, Maryland, whenever they get the chance. Both Buck and the girls enjoy wakeboarding, with Aubrey becoming quite proficient under “coach” Warrington’s tutelage, but their dad says he usually stays on the boat to maximize their time on the water.

“I do wakeboard, but I don’t want to take up the girls’ time,” he said. “They love it!”

Budding wakeboarder Aubrey Davidson (pictured) and her sister Ellie, 3, spends days off on the water with their father Buck Davidson. Photo Courtesy Of Buck Davidson

Show jumper Aaron Vale

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International show jumper Aaron Vale lives with his wife Mallory Vale and their daughter Kinser, 10, in Williston, Florida. 

“Our favorite thing to do outside horses is go on Disney Cruises,” Aaron said. “We do at least one a year. We also love beach days in Flagler beach on a Monday off! When we don’t horse show, we take Sunday and Monday off of riding. When Kinser is in school we like to commit a day at home on the weekend to not just focus on riding. Otherwise, the only day off we have is on Monday, and she is in school.” 

(From left) Aaron, Mallory and Kinser Vale make time for an annual Disney cruise to see their favorite mouse on the high seas. Photo Courtesy Of Aaron Vale

Hunter and jumper rider Daniel Geitner

Top hunter and jumper rider Daniel Geitner’s DFG Stables splits time between Ocala, Florida, and Aiken, South Carolina. While he gets to spend plenty of barn time with daughter Lillian, 17, who also rides (and recently jumped—and won—her first grand prix at the Aiken Spring Classic Masters in April), son Wyatt, 19, is in his freshman year at college. So when they are all together, the family makes the most of it.

“We like to go out on the water and concerts,” Daniel said. “We just saw Zach Bryan in between the two Aiken Charity Horse Shows.”

The Geitner family, from left, of Wyatt, Cathy, Lillian and Daniel, during the dedication of a barn at Bruce’s Field (S.C.). Kate Boggan/Aiken Horse Park Foundation Photo

Eventer Kyle Carter

“We try to go hiking and spend time in nature,” said Carter, who runs Five Ring Stable in Citra, Florida, with his wife, Jennifer Carter. “We regularly make trips that involve being in nature. Every year we go to Alaska, where Jen is from, and while there do multiple trips out as well as camp.”

The Carter family, from left, Trista, Kyle, Riley and Jen, spend their vacations in the outdoors, like this trip to Montana, hiking and camping. Photo Courtesy Of Kyle Carter.

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