Above: TPH Intern Tori Weed’s trainer Karen Banister. Photo courtesy of Tori Weed.

By TPH Intern Tori Weed

When your horse trainer is also your best friend, mentor, counselor, life-coach, traveling buddy, and second mom, you have a lot to be thankful for. For me, I know the list goes on and on. My trainer is an extraordinary woman. I will try my best to find the words to say my biggest thank you to the woman who not only teaches me how to ride better, but has also changed my life.

Karen,

Thank you for patiently handling my many missed distances, my tests of gravity and my promises to nail the lead change. Thank you for never tiring of telling me to use my outside rein. Thank you for your patience in the moments when it takes me way too long to reset the jump, when I struggle with endless complications with tack, and when I cannot find something, even though it’s right in front of me. The list of struggles is long, but if it wasn’t for these fumbles, we would rarely have as much to laugh at. Thank you for laughing with me.

Thank you for expanding my knowledge of horses: their care, hauling, tack, breeds, feed, horsemanship and history. Thank you for never giving me a sharp answer, even when the questions fall out of my mouth one after another. It is because of your patience that I am so eager to learn more and am never afraid to ask for help or advice.

Karen Banister kissing one of her favorite horses goodnight after a day well done. Forever being a kind and loving woman who teaches the true meaning of hard work and love. Photo courtesy of Tori Weed.

Thank you for teaching me what it is to love and care for these animals. Your constant affection and effort are the best example I have to follow when it comes to treating our horses with the utmost care and respect.

Thank you for the innumerable exhausting hours you sacrifice to better the lives of your clients, animals and family. I have witnessed your early mornings and late nights with no days off and I am grateful.

Thank you for the horse shows I will never forget. The successes we have had and memories we have made will forever be a part of who I am, even years from now when the ribbons are long gone.

Thank you for the many memorable road trips. You, me, the dogs, and the horses taking on the seemingly endless drives. I wouldn’t want to travel across the country, talking about life lessons, funny thoughts, and interesting facts with anyone but you.

Thank you for the countless nights of staying with you – home and away at shows. With you, I have a found a second home – the barn, a hotel, the camper or wherever we crumple at the end of the day. I get the best rest when I am with you. You radiate comfort and safety. And thank you for understanding I need to sleep until the very last minute and that I can’t tackle a morning successfully until I have coffee in my hand. You would know my need for caffeine, since I practically lived with you all summer (and thank you for that too).

Thank you for supporting me with education and motivating me to learn as much as I can. You inspire me to do my very best at school as well as to absorb knowledge elsewhere, too. Thank you for the many lessons you teach me outside of the saddle – how to be a better, kinder, and more thoughtful person.

Thank you for dealing with my frustrating perfectionism that occasionally gets me flapped. You have helped me realize making mistakes is a part of growing. 

Thank you for being a shoulder to lean on and for taking me under your wing. With your constant support I feel empowered to grow, succeed, and be who I really am. Without your shoulder, I would not be able to move on from the hardships that try to bring me down. With the tools you have taught me, I am able to help myself and I am able to pay it forward and help others like you help me.

Thank you for the mind-blowing opportunities you have given me. There is no way I would be where I am today without all the hard work you put into making grand experiences happen. The opportunities you have blessed me with have led me to a path I never knew I could get to. Thank you for growing my potential and forcing me to continue to set goals and dreams. Thank you for showing me dreams do come true.

Most importantly, thank you for the unlimited love you have shown me. I will never be able to say thank you enough times or show you just how grateful I am for all you do.

Thank you for being my trainer.

Thank you for the dream come true.

Karen and Tori. Photo courtesy of Tori Weed.

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