A Letter to Penny


Me now (Left), compensating for lack of horse,  and 16 year-old me on “Legs” at the farm.


* Penny, my trainer from my horse riding years, who pretty much became family, needs our help. She is a very kind and trusting person who has been a positive influence in many of our lives, and a staple in the Bucks County equestrian community. It is our turn to give back and support her through a very tough time. This is a Go Fund Me link for Penny.

**This is my open letter to better describe what this wonderful person means to me:

Dear Penny,

This letter is an overdue thank you, a show of appreciation for how much my time with you has shaped my life.

I first found out about you and the farm by word of mouth. One of my mom’s art students was a Bucks County Community College student who rode with you as part of the collegiate equestrian program. The timing could not have been more perfect. I was a poor immigrant kid who wanted nothing more than to be around horses. I had just spent the last three years as a bullied middle schooler who was in the middle of a heartbreaking situation at an inner-city stable, where the owner had taken full advantage of my willingness to give my soul and labor to be a part of the horse world. After just two lessons that my mom saved up for (first one on Premier, the second one on Missy, and she bucked me off), you kindly let me become a part of your world. You let me do barn chores for my lessons, and there have been very few things, even now, that I have ever been so excited about. From then on, my school week was just something to pass the time until the weekend, when I would show up way too early at the farm to feed, water, and ride. During the summers, I would almost literally move in. For a kid who was always out of place, you gave me somewhere to be.

Summer was when I, and the other barn kids, would spend easily 14 hours a day, feeding, mucking stalls, riding endless circles, bathing the horses, and just hanging out. After several rides on Trooper, who repeatedly bucked me off until I learned not to drop my hands or my eyes, you gave me my first two projects, Clover and Spirit, who weren’t getting too much attention. Clover was an ex-racehorse who retired as an ex-showjumper, who at 25 years old was still completely nuts. It was on Clover that I first learned how to actually steer, and get a little respect before I allowed her to take a fence. That grumpy old mare and I became good friends. Spirit was a chronic stopper, who would only go over a fence if I did everything right, and if she felt like it. By the end of that summer, we were doing gymnastic lines. I remember riding her around the indoor, the night before school started again, almost in tears about how much I would miss spending hours on end with her and Clover. For a kid with very few friends at the time, you gave me someone to care for.

The years flew by, and some of my best mornings were spent mucking stalls with you, Lisa, Tina, and Lynn. We would laugh and chat, and on the cold winter days, would go upstairs for a coffee break. There were twilight lessons on Kramer, Little Amber, and LB, and there were occasional horse shows that you were kind enough to let me enter. You let me stay in your house the night before, you worked with me in the schooling ring, as I was wearing your old show kit, and paid my entry fees, even when I was a useless ball of nerves that would essentially get taken for a ride. You have left me responsible for the barn when you went away to bigger shows, and you trusted me to get the work done. You showed up for my last choir concert my senior year of high school, even though it was completely out of your way. You have bought me countless lunches, simply in exchange for picking them up, and have offered me your vehicles to commute with, to lessen the burden on my mom and the vehicle we shared. You gave me yet another friend in a grumpy gelding named X-Rated. You have offered me help and support throughout the years in ways I couldn’t even comprehend at the time, and have put more confidence in me than I could ever put in myself. Your generosity towards me was endless, even when it was not understood or deserved.

It has now been years since I have been a regular at the farm, but each time I visit, you welcome me with open arms, introducing me as one of your many kids, no matter how busy you are. And you are always busy, being one of the hardest working people I know. Your attitude towards life and learning, and your ingenuity to get the job done, is nothing short of inspirational. I was not one of your best riders, but you have taught me enough to be competent on most horses, and instilled a work ethic in me that enabled me to work and ride in various states and countries as a horseback guide. Your propensity to put me in novel situations with the beasts (let Chub-Bub loose in the ring while I’m riding, let’s see what happens), has taught me to embrace the new. Every time I fell off, you gave me a leg-up before I had a chance to tell you I was scared, and you made me work through my fear. Although I am not currently in the position to be involved in horses, I continue to challenge myself in sports where I need to keep my heels down, my legs strong, my hands light and forgiving, and my eyes up. Your many lessons in sport and in life continue to ring true for me today, and your willingness to give me a chance empowered me to continue taking chances. For that, I eternally thank you.

Love always,

Veronika Hewitt (Barn kid 1999 – 2005)


This is a Go Fund Me link for Penny. Please donate and/or share.


Published by Veronika Hewitt

Writer. Cyclist. Cat Lady.

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