As the parent of a kid in the horse world, I'm sure you are well aware that horseback riding is not a cheap or easy sport. If a rider wants to be competitive, it is extremely time consuming, requires a ridiculous amount of commitment, and is way more expensive than you probably knew prior to signing up for lessons. Maybe the first year or so of horse shows weren't so bad, since we probably only did a few shows total and our beginner-aimed classes ran early in the day. But as we progressed through the levels and began showing more frequently, you began to realize what the horse show world was really about.

Horse show days can be painfully long, oftentimes 12 hours or more. They take place in literally any weather (aside from lightning storms), usually outdoors. You've sweated, you've frozen, and you've fought falling asleep ringside, all in the name of support for us, your kids. And you do it all without any complaint or comment, which is really saying something considering we as riders have definitely complained at some point or another about the extreme weather or how tired we are.

When we win the class, you're our biggest fans; you're always the first to start clapping and whooping and the first to congratulate us as we walk out of the ring. If (God forbid) we botch our ride and aren't in the top six in the class to receive a ribbon, you're happy to listen to us rant and to give us a pep talk: "One class doesn't define you as a rider. You'll get it next time. You looked fabulous; I don't know what the judge was thinking!"

Even though you probably aren't horse people, you've become well-versed in the arts of boot polishing, girth tightening, and hoof oil painting. You're one part horse show parent, one part groom, and one part hitching post for our horses as we run to the food stand or try to catch a quick nap between classes. You've made a serious, concentrated effort to understand the concepts of adding a stride in a line or the difference between a trot lengthening and a medium trot. Would this ordinarily interest you? Probably not. But it interests us, it's your favorite subject for the day, and you'll learn all you can about it.

Have we ever really thanked you for all you? Sure, maybe a quick "thanks" after you help us pull a martingale off before the under saddle class, but I don't know that you've ever really gotten the true, heartfelt appreciation you truly deserve. Without you, none of this would be possible. You've made our dreams and aspirations in riding a reality. And so, on behalf of horse show kids everywhere, thank you to all the horse show parents. You are truly the MVPs of the horse show world.