An Open Letter To My First Employer
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An Open Letter To My First Employer

Thank you one of my greatest life lessons: The horses always come first

An Open Letter To My First Employer
Colleen Devanney

Mrs. Dutton,

Hello again! I hope that this letter finds you and the horses well on this summer day. I just wanted to take some time to tell you some things I have never been able to tell you before.

I am writing you to thank you for everything that you have taught me and to say that I'm sorry if I ever took any time with you or any of your lessons for granted. The time that I spent working with you and the horses from fourth to ninth grade, I believe that I did take a lot of time with you for granted. Although I was very young, I still wish to apologize for my naiveté. I also want to thank you for all the humid and burning summer days, and the endless and brutally cold winter evenings. Thank you for teaching me how to pick (clean out) the horses’ hooves, even when the horses didn’t want me to and they continued to out-power me. Thank you for teaching me the persistence and patience I needed to pick their hooves anyway. Thank you for telling me to feed the horses even when it was so cold that I couldn’t feel my fingers, but we both knew that the horses’ dinners were more important than my personal comfort. Thank you for making me scrub out the watering tub in 80-degree weather when it was full of moss and I was absolutely disgusted by the harmless slimy substance. Thank you for having me muck (shovel the poop) out the stalls all those humid August afternoons when all I wanted to do was go home and sit in my air-conditioned house. Thank you for those hundreds of times that I swept the barn isle. Thank you for everything that I never wanted to thank you for at the time. Most of all, thank you one of my greatest life lessons: the horses always come first.

I’ve been to stables where the riders hardly paid attention to the grooms. The grooms are shown little to no appreciation for all the time that they spend with other people's horses. For some riders to not even thank the workers who spend more time with their horses as workers than they do as owners appalls me. Having been in the grooms' position and having done unpleasant jobs around the barn, I can't help but empathize with them. Scrubbing water buckets, pulling hairs out of brushes, and grooming the sand in the riding rings are among the jobs that not many people think of when they think of maintaining a horse farm. I am thankful to have learned lessons of hard work over the years from you, a lesson in empathy that I didn't know was being taught as a young girl.

As much as I love horses and riding (which I love - a lot), it sometimes shames me to be in environments of such affluence and disregard for horses as animals with hearts and personalities. Riders will come to the barn and greet their already groomed and tacked (wearing their saddles and bridles) horses, go out riding, and leave their horses with the grooms afterward without even looking back. This makes me sad and I oftentimes think back to Four Winds Farm and all the hours I spent grooming, petting, feeding treats to, and cuddling with your horses. That's the kind of equestrian/equine relationship I wish to pursue.

Someday I plan on having horses of my own... Everyone knows that. What most people don't know is that I plan on keeping my horses like you do. My horses are going to live on my own property, hopefully in my backyard where I can look at them everyday. I plan on spending as much time with them as I possibly can, because my horses won't be for show or for sport; my horses will be there for companionship and exercise. I anticipate many years of hard work caring for them, but I also anticipate close bonds with my horses since I will be able to be with them on a daily basis without any middle men between us.

Finally, I just wanted to say thank-you for teaching me what I want, even though I was completely unaware at the time that I was even learning anything.


Colleen Devanney

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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