2 lessons I learned from my Dad’s Love of Horses

My Dads 80 year love of Horses

Back Ground

My Dad, Michael Anthony O Brien, died on 10 July 2018, 5 days short of his 92nd Birthday.

He never liked birthdays anyway.

People in Ireland say “that was a good age.” but obviously it is sad when you lose a parent at any age. I know my Dad would have loved another 92 years and would have lived them to the fullest with no regrets. But his body wasn’t up for it.

I got a lot from my Dad, my determination, my Entrepreneurial ambition and a love of animals.


My Dad raised 2 families.

When Dad was 15, his father died.

He was the oldest Boy of 10 Brothers and Sisters.   Michael was expected to and did work the small Irish farm and help bring food to the table for the family.

If you are good at numbers you probably realise that this was during the Second world war. Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Europe at the time.

My Dad built up the small farm and educated himself by distance learning from the UK. And then he fell in love with horses. The first thing Dad did when he grew his farming business big enough, was buy his first of many horses.

In the 60s, Dad met my Mum and nearly lost her to London, England, but that is another story for another day.

His second family.

To be honest, Dad was a workaholic. And was a little distant from us as children, which probably was pretty typical of fathers in the 70s in Ireland.

Distant unless we were riding horses…

My brothers, sister and I all rode to different levels and different sizes of horses. We had really really small ponies like “Brown Jumper” and really really large horses like “Golden Comb”.

Dad and Danielle

The Last 20 years.

Ireland as you may or may not know, is known for its horse racing. Big Races were with thoroughbreds. Particularly the International events in Race Courses like Punchestown and Fairyhouse, these races were where the big players meet And Dad wanted to be part of that. So 20 years ago when we were all adults he decided to buy a racehorse and compete.

After some early wins in the local races, he wanted to compete in the bigger races, The National Races. It took him about 10 years to have a horse good enough for this.

At this time, my mum and the rest of the family were throwing our eyes in the air. We were questioning the cost involved because it is not cheap to have a racehorse. And it takes a long time to see results. And if you are lucky positive results.

For example, a mare is pregnant for about 15 months and then it’s 2 to 5 years before they start to race. Then they might be good or unfortunately not good enough. And then you start the cycle again.

To us, it was pretty much like gambling.

So after about 20 years of Racing, his horses have won about 2 local Races and 1 National Race and Second and third a handful of times. Not great returns for the effort involved. Especially when you think for the Nationals that in his 80s someone from my family would have to drive. Which might be a 2 to 10 hour round trip.

These races were all over the country and to be honest, I had lost interest in horse racing a long time ago. But eventually and reluctantly, I got roped into going.


What I learned

It was then that I realized the passion that my Dad had for horses and no one or nothing was going to get in his way. (Determination or Stubbornness has its positives and its negatives)

But some of these races became Family days out with excitement. Hope for a win. Where we were able to share a common external hope and dream for the horse to win. But mostly we were disappointed, but disappointed together.

We followed my father’s passion and at the same time became closer as a family.

Dad, I and some of our Family at “Little Jimmy Browns’ 2nd Last Race

In Summer 2017, we had high hopes for his horse “Little Jimmy Brown”. He came in a nice third in his first race of the season with a lot of room for improvement.

Then on his second Race, he fell and had to be put to sleep because of his injuries.

My Dad was so upset.

At 90 years old, I believe he realised that he would never win the top International Races in Ireland like all the big famous Irish Owners and trainers.

I reminded him, that his passion for horses has had the hugely wonderful and beautiful side effect of making our family closer. And this was more important than winning a race! He was so happy to hear this, he thanked me over and over again.

From my Dads love of horses, I learned a couple of important lessons.

Lesson 1

The first was to follow your passion to have a fulfilled life. For me that Passion is for Marketing and helping others to succeed both in marketing & Sales and with Personal Development.

Lesson 2

The second lesson which I believe is more important for all of us entrepreneurs is that you may be surprised with the outcome and results that your action will bring you. But it will be still worth it if you follow through.

For me I know, there are a lot of interesting people I am going to meet and help in the future and some will help me too. Where and when we will meet I do not know, but I look forward to it.

Rest in Peace Dad!

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Jerry O Brien

Skype: jerryobrien1

Email: jerry@obrienai.com

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