By Emilie Herman
As we see by now, I’m one of the horse girls who never grew out of my “horse-stage.” Although my parents might ‘blame’ you for instilling my everlasting love for horses, I have to thank you. Without horses, I’m not sure who I would be, and picturing my life without your teaching is weird and I don’t think I like it.
You saw the days when I didn’t know what posting was or when my little legs were too weak to even get myself out of the saddle. You watched me bounce along as I clutched the reins and taught me to say, “rise and fall with the leg on the wall.” You helped me figure out the canter leads, getting only slightly frustrated when I picked up wrong lead after wrong lead.
Thank you for putting me on the safest of school horses, who remained calm and tolerant when I tugged a little too hard on their mouth despite your instructions. Thank you for holding the hoof of the horse up when I was too small to do so myself, and for allowing me to examine and trace the frog with my fingers.
You’ve seen me at my best, which I can accredit to you, and you’ve seen me at my worst. You’ve helped me through the days when I think I know what’s right despite my horse’s objections and your directions. You saw my first fall – thank you for letting me cry it out, then making me get back on.
You took me to my first horse show, where I continually almost got first place, but always ended up in second. You knew I took it to heart, so you told me what I did well and we talked together about what I didn’t do so well – I still do that with myself sixteen years later. You saw when I got my first blue ribbon and rejoiced with me; even though you had other students in the class, that was the start of my love of competition and it was important to me.
I hope you know that leaving your barn was like leaving family. It was never an easy decision, because you had been in my life longer than many of my school friends had, but I want you to know that I have grown in ways unimaginable because of the seed you planted. I think about the barn every time I drive to that side of town and I always consider dropping in to see if you’re there, but I usually tell myself, “maybe another day.” I’m glad we’re still Facebook friends, and I’m so happy to see how well the farm is doing.
Today when I get on my horse, I’m not worried about picking up the correct lead or posting on the correct diagonal, but that doesn’t mean learning either of those things holds any less weight in my mind and memory.
I hope you and your students do well at all of the shows you go to. I hope you are helping more little girls and little boys fall in love with horses, just like you helped me. I hope I’m not just another student who has passed through the barn. I hope you’re proud of me.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for planting the seed that has blossomed into one enormous flower, spreading my love for horses and for the sport we care about so very much.
The Young Student
Originally Published December 23, 2015 on Horse Junkies United