Why Not Fall In Love With Your Riding Instructor?

A NON-romantic Valentine’s Day love letter.


I struggle against the swell of my goofy “horse girl” crush on my riding instructor. I smile inside and out when I think of her. I can’t wait to get back to the barn. I think about her every day. I re-play her voice guiding me, “Fold, not bend, when you take the jump.” Do I squash my burgeoning love? Do I bare my heart to her?

Oh, there’s nothing sexual here; all the drama is emotional. Why would I not feel affection for this smart, giving woman? She brings me cascading joy and blooming self-esteem. I’m an older, late-in-life rider. Her support and unfailing belief in me has launched me into equestrian skills that I never dreamed I would attempt, let alone in which I would achieve some success. She’s enthusiastic, understanding, funny, smiley, pretty and takes tender care of her horses. Why wouldn’t I love her? But, should I do more than pay my fees on time, be kind to her staff and thank her with eye-sparkling sincerity? Should I surrender to my passion and tell her?

I’ve decided that tumbling into that emotional spa is a bad idea (like falling for your “Romantic Poets” professor in college). We are friends.  We enjoy each other’s company. We appreciate each other. However, student/instructor relationships work when the lines of each of our stations aren’t blurred. She has a job to do – instruct me and keep me as safe as she can. My job is to respect her time and talent by trying my very best to learn and perform. A step too far over the professional line could cause our roles to crash. She might get concerned about offending me with a correction. I might get sloppy ‘cuz we’re buddies. OMG! If I lost her I’d drown myself in bonbons, cheap Chablis and stupid bodice-buster horse fiction paperbacks.

I do send my riding instructor my all-year-round Valentine for trusting me with her horses and giving so much of herself to me each week. My time with her makes me feel like singing, like dancing, like swaggering. And yet, I will get a grip and keep my affection to myself. In lieu of gushing like a lovesick teen, I’ll appreciate her by showing up early, helping keep her barn clean, paying on time, taking care that I am kind and patient with her horses, by concentrating on my lessons and remembering that she likes to ride too, so I’ll book just-us trail rides on pretty days.

Happy Valentine’s Day to our riding instructors.

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