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Mother-In-Law and Daughter-In-Law Show Side By Side

Filed under: Featured,The Buzz |     

By: Brittany Bevis

Numerous jokes abound about the dreaded mother-in-law. Whether it’s a mother gaining a daughter or a son, this dynamic is often fraught with turmoil as relationships shift and change in order to accommodate a new member into the family.

However, Barb Lehman and Casey Lehman have chosen to buck tradition by riding and showing horses together. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they are best friends, as well as family.

“When I first met Casey, I thought she was pleasant and easy to talk to,” Barb says. “It wasn’t long before she was spending a lot of time at the house. She was my pool buddy and my horse buddy. We quickly bonded and shared many things in common. We would spend a lot of time talking and discussing many of life’s issues. There were times we were up until 2 am rationalizing decisions and advice on any question or issue she had. She always said she felt like I was a mom to her, and she valued my opinion.”

“It was important that she felt welcomed into our family. I know too many families that are destroyed by a jealous, vindictive mother-in-law. I wanted to gain a daughter, not lose a son. She loved being involved in family get-togethers, parties, and holidays. Our family is very close as well as ‘touchy, huggy, and lovey,’ and Casey loved being part of it.”

Casey started dating Cody during the summer of 2012, when they were both in high school. The couple was married in May of 2019, and she officially became a Lehman. “Barb became not just my boyfriend’s mom, but she became my mom too,” Casey says. “I could talk to her about anything and everything. There have been many times I have stayed up into the early hours of the morning just talking to her or figuring out what I wanted to do in life. She has always treated me like I was her own child, not just some girl in her son’s life that she never wanted.”

Horses have always been a part of Barb’s life. Her own daughter competed and, for years, she was a devoted horse show mom. When that period in her life ended, Barb felt like she had lost something important. “I missed it terribly, whether it was a smaller AQHA show or the Congress,” she says. “Those time are some of the best memories I have. Casey had a love for horses as well and unfortunately was never able to own a horse. She’s a very giving, kind person, and I wanted to be able to do something for her that she enjoyed.”

Casey started riding when she was just ten years old. Interestingly enough, even before she began dating Barb’s son, she remembers getting a riding lesson from Barb’s daughter. “Since then, I have grown as a rider, from showing in 4H and open shows and competing on the University of Findlay’s Western IHSA team to now showing in AQHA with my mother-in-law. I have never owned my own horse, but I have had the opportunity to show many different horses just through friends and family.”

Therefore, Barb and Casey have decided to tag-team the family steed- Repeat Invester, aka “Freckles,” a 2013 brown AQHA mare. “I bought her as a 4-year-old,” Barb says. “I have a love for Western Pleasure and was determined to show; but, with back surgery and knee surgery, I needed something with a good mind and smooth jog. She is a confidence builder and the best.”

“My trainer, Nikki Bailey, has been an absolute blessing. We have shown in Western Pleasure and Horsemanship, and Casey excels in English. Nikki felt English would benefit Freckles in Western as well. Basically, I do Western and Casey shows English. She has also shown in Halter, obtaining her bronze in just a few shows this year. Next year, I plan to add Trail and possibly Showmanship.”

Because Barb has had some health issues over the years, Casey is always quick to step in and lend a hand. “Casey takes such good care of me,” Barb says. “She worries about my safety and almost dotes over me. She doesn’t want me lifting the saddle, or being the first to ride her, or anything that would increase my risk. I will start to clean her stall or do something and she says, ‘It’s already done,’ or ‘she’s ready for you.'”

Both ladies split up all the tasks associated with riding and showing Freckles. It’s a system that works seamlessly for this dynamic duo. “We have a good system worked out for showing,” Casey says. “I take care of the horse side of things from packing the trailer with all of our show things, to unloading and organizing our tack stall. I also take care of Freckles at the show. That includes bathing, banding/braiding, feeding, and cleaning her stall. While she’s Barb’s horse on paper, at the shows, we share her. Since I’m lucky enough to have Barb take care of the camper and a large chunk of the financial aspect of the showing, I do anything to make her life easier while we’re there.”

Barb is more than happy to help out however she can with her part of the To-Do list. “I grocery shop and pack the camper,” Barb says. “We have a three-page checklist that we check off the night before we leave. We each print our own entries, and I drop the entries off at the entry booth. Casey feeds, and we both keep the stall clean. I cook the meals and clean up dishes and make the strawberry daquiris at the end of a long day! Casey longes, bathes, bands, and saddles the horse. I pay for the stall, shavings, and camping fee. We both pay for our own entries.”

As a result of this shared partnership, the ladies have both been able to achieve some personal milestones this year. Casey loves to compete in all-around classes with Freckles, but the English discipline is her favorite. “I really don’t care what I show in, as long as I’m able to ride. But, being able to do my favorite classes, and do well in them, is a good feeling. We
even managed at our first AQHA show to receive two seconds and two thirds our first time competing in Hunt Seat Equitation.”

For Barb, her accomplishments have centered around improving her health. “I have worked hard to get this far,” she says. “Riding and showing was my inspiration to lose the 80 pounds I have lost so far. Casey has even supported me through that as well. She even changed her eating habits by giving up pop and trying to eat healthier carbs, so we could suffer together!”

“The support from Casey is amazing. The best part of it is that she expects nothing in return, and she’s very real. I can feel and see the genuine support. We’re both appreciative, grateful, and especially thankful. We have fun. We’re excited with each other. We cry with each other, and we lift each other up. We buy little gifts for each other. We’re right there cheering each other on. We’re proud of each other.”

Likewise, Casey feels blessed to have a mother-in-law that she not only gets along with, but who shares the same passion and drive for equestrian sport. “Having family at the shows is the best,” she says. “When either of us are in the ring, the other is always on the sidelines. No matter where we are, we always have each other. We both try our hardest to make sure the other person has the best show possible.”

Barb agrees, adding that she’s always able to be honest with Casey and appreciates her opinion. “Casey is very considerate. We’re open and honest. We can be ourselves, really brainstorm a solution, and are open to each other’s suggestions. If I would ask her to do something or give advice, we discuss it openly and honestly. We don’t have to be afraid to express our true feelings with each other honestly. If we don’t agree or get irritated, we express that as well! We always talk through everything and listen to each other’s opinions.”

Following along those lines, Barb has some helpful advice for other mother-in-laws out there looking to create a better relationship with their child’s partner. “Be non-judgmental, nurture, and offer support. Listen to and respect each other.  Laugh together, cry together, be yourself, and be honest. Also, offer lots of hugs and high-fives.”

“I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have accomplished more than ever, and I couldn’t have done it without Casey,” Barb says. “Truly, I have gained a daughter instead of losing a son. I look forward to our future together. Everybody says Casey is a mini-me, and I’m so proud of her. I couldn’t do it without her, nor would I want to.”

Casey feels the exact same way. “Something Barb would always say to me before Cody and I got married was that she was gaining a daughter instead of losing a son. I think that’s the mindset all future mothers-in-laws and daughter-in-laws
need to have. You’re gaining a person- a whole other family. That’s a blessing, not something to turn into a competition.”

“I do believe I got lucky with my mother-in-law. She’s like a mother to me, and she always tells people that I’m a daughter to her. I talk to her almost every day, just to talk. She’s one of my best friends, and when something goes good or bad in my life, she’s one of the first people I turn to. Being able to share our love of horses is a bonus in our relationship. But even if we did not have that mutual hobby, I know that she would always be there for me.”

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