Thank You for the Lessons
I’m not sure if my mother ever had to tell me, “get ready, it’s time to go to the barn.” I was always ready. I would count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until it was time for my riding lessons. When we would arrive at the barn, there they stood; neat rows of stalls and green pastures filled with the most magnificent animals I could ever imagine. If I were to look at the same stalls and pastures now, I
would see something very different. I would see my best teachers, coaches, lessons, and friends standing there swishing their tails and bobbing their heads.
It seems that only upon looking back can I begin to fully appreciate everything that these lesson horses gave to me. Ask any horse person; “who was your favorite lesson horse growing up?” and they will tell you long stories about these priceless creatures. Their worth is not measured in dollar amounts, but rather in the knowledge that they gave and continue to give to us. Maybe this is why we mourn them for so long after they are gone? Gone with them are the lessons they could have given to new generations of riders.
But for every time a lesson horse crosses into the inevitable heaven that awaits them, a new lesson horse is born. Lesson horses are not bred. No one finds the perfect stallion for their mare so that they can have the perfect lesson horse foal. Most often, these horses just somehow find their way into a program at a stable, and there they stay. My own mare found her way into a lesson program when she became semi-retired after a long and fruitful career in the “A” cicuit show ring.
The next time you encounter a lesson horse, thank them. Thank them for everything they have given you, and everything they will give to others. When you look back on the lesson horses that YOU rode, remember what they gave to you.
Thank you Smokey for teaching me that big horses can be the most gentle.
Thank you Cricket for teaching me that ponies can be feisty, but fun.
Thank you Buddy for teaching me how to sit through spooks, and how to fall when I don’t sit through those spooks.
Thank you Freeway for teaching me that a horse can take care of their rider over any jump, if they are the right horse.
Thank you Lakota for teaching me that a rider can take care of their horse over any jump, if they are the right rider.
Thank you Peanut for teaching me that even horses that are cranky on the ground can actually be the best under saddle.
Thank you Chaz, Rosie, Red, Boo, Legs, PJ, Drive, Knee High, and all the other horses that taught me to be the rider that I am today.
And lastly, thank you Duchess for showing me that even after all you gave to me and taught me, you still were able to give the same to all the people that came after retiring you and turning you into a lesson horse.
Thank you will never be enough.