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Just Step Back

Risky has been full of lessons for me lately – like don’t add garlic to her dinner, she’s not a fan.

Today, after a good ride, I gave her a bath. I tied her, and began the process of soaking, soaping, and rinsing. About half way through the first side, she decided she wasn’t having fun anymore and she pulled back. I stepped back, and while I calmly reassured her verbally, I physically stayed out of the way. I talked to her and waited for her to decide whether pulling back, or standing, were the better option for her.

I let her work her problem out for herself.

She had to work the same problem out twice today, to decide that standing was really a pretty fantastic choice.

We finished the bath, I put some stuff on for ticks and treated a couple of sores I found from tick bites, and I let her stand tied while I carted things back to the truck. I really wanted her to have the whole thing worked out and behind her, whether the water was on or off, or whether I was standing there or not.

It didn’t dawn on me immediately, the lesson in all of this. It took me driving away, replaying everything, to really open my eyes to this gem.

I have a hard time standing back and letting people work out problems for themselves – friends, family, my kids. If I don’t have a solution in mind, I’m pretty good at looking things up until I come up with a solution (or what seems worth a shot to me). But sometimes, people have to work things out for themselves. They need to know, and weigh, their own options – and we have to step back and watch. We can sometimes offer a word of encouragement or support, but everyone is safer (and learning more) if we stay back. It’s easy to jump in, thinking we are helping, and not only get ourselves unnecessarily hurt, but also the other person.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we abandon those that are hurting or walking through a mess, or creating a mess. I didn’t abandon Risky. But I didn’t make the problem worse by getting in the way. See, if I had jumped in, then when she leaped forward, I would have been stepped on. Or maybe forward wouldn’t have “looked” like an option anymore – leaving her with pulling back only. Pulling back proved to be a tiring endeavor that offered no results or solution to her perceived problem. So, she found a solution by coming forward.

Sometimes, the lessons we learn by testing, trying, and coming to our own conclusion, stick with us for much longer than the lessons other people try to teach us.

Can you think of a time you should have stepped back, and how that may have helped someone more than jumping in did?

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Special Places

Risky reminded me of something recently, and I really got to indulge in the peace and quiet of it today – we all need a place that allows us to cast our cares aside, de-stress, rest, recuperate and get refreshed. Years ago, that place was the barn for me – where I spent countless hours caring for, riding, washing, spoiling and tormenting Dreamer, and several other critters that came and went.

Now today, again I find the barn is my solace. It is the place I just get away – for however brief my time is. Even with the chores, feeding, mucking, and filling water buckets, I just feel like I’m away from all the stress of raising 5 kids, running a business, & managing a house (or trying to).

Briefly, I felt like I was being selfish. I made the specific request that no ex’s come pick up kids (sometimes that comes with drama) at the barn. And I am very picky about who comes to the barn with us, and when. I don’t have very many “protected” moments in my day or week, but my barn minutes are precious to me. And tonight, as I was driving out, kid free, I was thinking about all of this, and even praying about it.

You know, I realized we all need a place we can just take a few deep breaths and get refilled. We all have demands on our time, money, energy, etc. If we don’t take the time to refill, then we won’t have what we need to pour out to the people we love best, the people God sends our way, and all of the divine appointments He makes for us. I want to be available for my husband, my kids, our business, and any of the other times/places God has in mind for me.

Where is your getaway? Is there a place you can go, where you can pray freely, and refill yourself to face the tasks that are before you?

Good Advice, Bad Advice, Unasked for Advice

I was only a child when I got my first pony, her name was Rainbow. I knew nothing about how to care for a horse, I did not know what they needed in terms of medical attention, wound care, diet, exercise, or even how to teach them good habits/healthy boundaries. But I had my mom, and as I got older, I also had an incredible 4-H group, lead by some amazing moms/women/horse ladies.

I remember thinking as a teenager, several years into my journey as a horse person, and as a knucklehead in general, that I couldn’t wait to be grown. I thought, “There is no way adults get as much advice as kids do!” Boy was I ever wrong. WRONG. I get more advice now than I did as a kid.

As I learned about what horses physically needed, and a tiny portion of how they process information (this is a daily learning activity, not one of those things you ever arrive at “fully knowing” in my opinion), I also learned how to sort through advice. I knew who I could trust for sound training & health tips, and I started learning who to smile and nod at, and walk away from without absorbing their advice.

I took english lessons for a brief time. My horse, Dreamer, had a lazy streak. He could be a touch stubborn, just enough to keep me paying attention, but he really wanted to please. We were walking, and trotting, in the arena, but he would not lope. I usually had to convince him that I meant it, but that didn’t take much convincing, and on this day he would NOT do it. No way, siree! The lady giving my lesson was getting frustrated and wanted me to spat him with my crop, which I wasn’t comfortable with, and the more she pushed, the more I was getting upset, the less Dreamer was cooperating. I finally came to a stop and went for the dismount.

My saddle rolled and probably dumped me on the ground, on my tush. (The landing on my tush part happened to me a lot, I’m a clutz. I don’t remember for sure if I made it off on my feet this time, or not!) Dreamer gave me the “See, idiot?” look that I loved from him, and when both my mom and I tried to tell the lady he knew the saddle wasn’t properly secured, she disagreed and we all quickly decided that we weren’t a good match for lessons.

I’m dealing with a situation at the barn I’m at, where someone is acting strangely. I had no idea why she got louder and seemed like she was vying for my attention while she worked with her horses, and I was feeling frustrated. I shared with a friend and mentor what was going on, and she wisely said, “She is TEACHING you.” Oh! I get it now. Advice.

Good Advice, Bad Advice, Unasked for Advice – we get the privilege some days, the chore other days, of sorting through advice and using what makes our life better and disregarding what does not. Whether it is marital advice, business advice, financial in nature, about child bearing & rearing, or how-to-train-your-horse advice, we all get it.

My prayer today, as I face more advice than I want, about more situations in my life than I want people offering advice on, is for grace. I have people I trust for advice, I have people I avoid for advice, and I meet strangers that have advice that I am pretty sure I didn’t ask for, and I just ask that God would give me the filter, the wisdom, and grace to sort through all advice, use what I can, leave what I can’t, and always respond graciously to the giver. (Easier said than done, that’s why I am asking for His help, folks.)