A Man Walks into a Barn

Navigating Fatherhood in the Flawed and Fascinating World of Horses

Chad Oldfather




A smart, funny memoir exploring the evolution of a man and his relationship with his daughters as they grow up in the grips of the equestrian life.

When Chad Oldfather found himself the parent of a toddler who, out of nowhere, became obsessed with horses, he had no idea what awaited. With his younger daughters similarly afflicted, Oldfather was soon enmeshed in the consuming subculture of barns, riding, and horse shows, learning not just about the animals that so inexplicably drew his girls, but also about the people and personalities that populated the spaces around them.

A book for parents, whatever their children's interests, and for equestrians, who know what it's like “on the inside” (but maybe not what it's like on the outside, looking in), A Man Walks into a Barn is a wise, witty, and, at times, critical look at both the light and dark sides of youth sports, and equestrianism in particular. Readers find themselves rooting for Oldfather as he struggles to be the best dad he can, supporting a child's dreams in the face of long odds and extraordinary expenses. He writes about his parenting choices and the strange world he finds himself in with humor and honesty, critically examining riding's high cost and the inaccessibility and inequality that results. Aware of the flaws and dangers of youth athletics, as well as the benefits, he strives to protect his girls while supporting their ambitions the best ways he knows how.

Filled with the joys, heartbreaks, and life lessons that come from training, competition, and time in the company of horses, this is mostly a book about family, and the strong bonds that can form when parent and child join hands and pursue a passion together.

Additional Information

Author: Chad Oldfather

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 336


ISBN: 9781646010554

By Chad Oldfather

Chad Oldfather has ridden horses just enough times to appreciate how difficult it is to do well. He has also mucked stalls, cleaned tack, stacked hay, helped fix fences, and logged hundreds of hours ringside as his daughters have taken lessons and ridden in shows. By day he is a professor at Marquette University Law School where, among other things, he teaches classes on and writes about judicial behavior, constitutional law, and the jurisprudence of sport, and serves on the Board of Advisors to the National Sports Law Institute. His non-legal writings have appeared in the Chronicle of the Horse, the World Equestrian Center Magazine, and Harvard Magazine.

The Wall Street Journal Says:

A "witty, often wistful take on parenting, pedagogy, and life lessons learned."

Untacked Magazine Says:

"Even if you are not the father of a horse-loving daughter--or not a father at all--you'll still find poignant takeaways from the book's pages, thanks to the beauty of Oldfather's prose."