Karen and David O’Connor. Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton. Kaley Cuoco and Karl Cook. A select few have managed to make horses not just their own business, but a family affair. At shows all over the country you see the female population overpowering the few males that are competing, and while some young women might dream of marrying an international show jumper and being the next ‘A’ circuit power couple, statistically, most women end up partnering outside the circle of riders.
For the select few who do keep it in the equestrian family, they share a common language, knowledge base, and drive. Someone who understands “we have to go to this horse show this weekend to get more points in that division,” and that this isn’t a regular 9-5 grind, but a 24-7 marathon.
In this two-part series, we share an exclusive Q and A with two high-level show jumping power couples that both have a hand in the industry to give the full layout of life in an equine-centric family.
In part one, we speak with Kathy Frame-Dewar and Kyle Dewar — head trainers at Chestnut Hill Farm of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and Ocala Florida. Both Kathy and Kyle have been at the top level of the business for many years, and have extensive careers in the hunters and jumpers, have produced exceptional horses, and boast a competitive team of clients who thrive on the circuit.
“How did you meet your spouse?”
Kyle- “Well, we met at a horse show in Mason City, Iowa. We had liked each other right away. Actually, at the same show we got engaged. I got the whole show together and pulled off the proposal during the course walk for the Grand Prix. Everyone knew about it, there was a band playing and all of our friends were watching.”
Kathy- “Let me say first, it was a great engagement. But, I was trying so hard to concentrate on the Grand Prix. All I kept thinking was ‘I just got engaged! We need to keep walking the course!’ I was definitely not expecting it at all.”
“The best positive aspects?”
Kyle- “It’s great to be able to share the joys and frustrations of the sport with someone. They’re always there for you in any situation.”
Kathy- “It’s nice since we can travel together as a family, the children go with us to most horse shows, too.”
“What would you say are some of the drawbacks?”
Kyle- “Since we’re always together it can be hard to not get too involved at times, at the barn and at home.”
Kathy- “Honestly, having to share horses. Also, how the horse world can affect the relationship since we’re both involved.”
“Has there ever been a fight over horses?”
Kyle- “No not really, but she has taken a few of mine.”
Kathy- “We have done the occasional horse trade, but no fights about them!”
“What’s it like to watch your spouse compete?”
Kyle- “I don’t think much of it since it’s my job, but if we’re not in the same class I get nervous for her. If we’re in the same class, we try to watch each other and really root for one another to win.”
Kathy- “Of course we’re competitive with one another, but we want either of us to win at the end of the day. We’re always cheering for the other.”
“How do you separate yourself from the horse world every so often?”
Kyle- “Really it’s the kids who help take us out of the horse world. I coach their soccer team, and we try to find other things to do like going to the pool or the movies.”
Kathy- “Yeah, definitely the kids help. We do family outings often, like bowling. I also play tennis a few times a week.”
“How did you first introduce your kids to horses?”
Kyle- “We first put them on Spitfire, Kathy’s horse, when they were about a year old. Really, they have been around the horses since they were born.”
Kathy- “Spitfire was definitely the perfect horse for them to sit on for the first time.”
Thanks so much to Kyle and Kathy for speaking with us, and stay tuned for part II of our series when we talk to Aaron and Mallory Vale!