It has been the greatest honor of my life to have been your person for the past twelve years.
Thank you for being athletic enough to chase my dreams with me and catch so many of them. I dream big, and very few horses could have carried me through twelve years of dreams and disappointments. There are not enough first horses like you to be every rider’s first horse. You were everything a first horse should be- challenging enough to make me grow a backbone, but never so challenging as to hurt or frighten me permanently. You were both a little girl’s dream come true, and a young woman’s unicorn. You taught me so much about horses, patience, and bravery. I have seen so many first horses that define young rider’s limits, but you inspired me to push mine.
Thank you for rewarding me for the things I got right, and not covering up the many things I got wrong. This could be painful and frustrating but it made me better. I will carry you with me every ride, every lesson I teach. You unfairly paid the price of my new horse owner mistakes and occasionally my teen and young adult emotions, and I hope you forgive me for all the times I failed you. You humbled me at every turn and showed me how much I have left to learn. Every horse that has and will come after you will have you to thank.
Thank you for not only giving me the confidence and skills to start a business, but for being the very best first lesson horse I could ever ask for. You taught every student who sat on you what they needed to know- and the more they knew, the more you challenged them. You took the very best care of our riders. You made me a better teacher. You sharpened my eye by tattling and showed me when riders were ready to move up and ready for a new challenge. Together we tried new exercises before putting students through them, and we both praised students when they nailed it and you nailed it, too.
Thank you for showing me what the gold standard should be for my lesson horses. Because my first lesson horse was my heart horse, no lesson horse I own will ever be “just a lesson horse.” They have the most important job, and deserve uncompromising care and support, and I promise you every horse I own or lease or work with, regardless of their job, will be my horse while they’re in my care.
Thank you for being easy to share with students. I know so many professionals that have regretted using their personal horses in lessons. While initially I had my reservations, there have been few things that have made me as proud as sharing you with students, which in turn allowed me to share my passion and knowledge with people who love horses the way I love horses. In twelve years, no friend, student, trainer or fellow rider that has sat on you and not enjoyed riding you, and that is a standard I will work to replicate in all my horses for the rest of my life.
Thank you for the people you helped me meet and the friendships I have because of you. The only thing providing any comfort at this time is the outpouring of support from the people who loved you with me. You were so loved in spite of your flaws, which is something that, in some ways, surprised me in our early years together. As someone who feels a strong need to be perfect, seeing you so loved in spite of your flaws (for which you were unapologetic) gave me confidence I wish every young woman could have.
Thank you for opening up the horse world for me. You surprised more than one trainer, not by being an exceptional athlete but by having an exceptional ability to learn and improve. You gave me the superpower that is the work ethic required to be better today than I was yesterday. I will never be the most talented the most experienced rider- I came to terms with that long ago. What you taught me is that innate talent doesn’t matter as much if you’re smart, work hard and be a good learner. And learning faster than your competition, as it turns out, is a very sustainable advantage.
Thank you for teaching me everything I know about love, loyalty, friendship, and what it means to make a lifelong commitment. You taught me to stick with the tough horses. The heartbreak I feel right now is the price I pay for the privilege of loving you. I would trade anything to bring you back, or give our story a different end, but I wouldn’t give up the past twelve years even if it meant erasing the seemingly insurmountable pain I feel right now.
I am so grateful for the memories we made. I’m grateful for the ones I share, and the ones that are just for me. We walked a long road together, you and I, and we made so many friends. It’s these horses, family, friends, and the professionals that made our lives together richer and our story sweeter. Whether they were with us for a day, a season, or years, whether I remember their names or not, I will forever be grateful for their support and what they taught me about you and horses.
You gave me everything. This is a debt I will never be able to repay to you, it will have to be paid to the horses and the riders that come after you. It’s difficult to imagine a future in which another horse feels like an extension of my body and my thoughts the way you did. No other horse can be my first horse, and you will be followed but never replaced. There is an emptiness in me that only memories of you can fill.
Rest In Peace, my fiery red horse. I love you forever.
As some of you already know, we lost Apollo suddenly and tragically due to a pasture accident on December 3rd, 2020.