*A trainer’s response to An Open Letter to Our Earliest Trainers written by Emilie Ehrman (link here).

By Barb DiPalma:

Dear Grown Up Tiny Trotter,

As you see now, I’m still at this sport and I will never grow out of my horse phase because of you! As much as it has sometimes set me back financially and emotionally, I would never trade my time in the ring with you for anything different. Without horses, I would have never had the opportunity to have met and been influenced by all of you!

You may think I’ve had a bit of an impact on your start in horses and that I taught you a thing to two, like to keep your heels down and your eyes up, but I could never repay you for all the things you have taught and given me.

You put your utmost trust in me, and showed your incredible horsemanship and true grit even when you got run away with, fell off from a standstill, had to ride in the pouring rain in your show clothes, or got bucked off and got back on. You trusted me to find you a good, safe first horse and always offered to help me with mine even when they were goofy fast and big.

Thank you for thinking of me now that your older. Tagging me in your Facebook posts, sticking up for me if anyone dared to gossip behind my back, calling me to ask questions about a horse you’re training, or just asking me for life advice. Those things mean so much more to me than you will ever know. More than I can  explain or thank you for. Thank you for sharing your deepest darkest secrets with me and supporting me through mine.

I am so proud of all of you! I’ve seen you all grow up and do the most bravest things, like fight cancer, and join the Marines. I’ve seen all your ups and downs and I don’t mean posting. I’ve seen your first falls from a horse, and your first blue ribbons. And even if you didn’t place, there was always something you did to make me proud, even if it was just nailing a lead, or getting back on, or smiling back me on the rail through the pouring rain when I was under an umbrella and you were completely soaked.

Thank you for being like little nieces to me, inviting me and including me in your family occasions, graduations, and yes, even the funerals. Thank you for supporting each other, staying best friends with each other, and supporting your new instructors, who are also blessed to know you, and who inspired me to write this. ♡

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the type of memories that fill me with gratitude and fulfillment for every time I get in the ring with another young up-downer.

♡ Barb DiPalma
ARIA Certified Level 2 Dressage and Huntseat Instructor