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Sharing a Barn

I have to admit, sharing a barn has not been my favorite thing until recently. If I had my choice, my girl would be in my backyard, and I’d walk out to take care of her twice a day, and never have to deal with other barn people. Just my horse, my kids, my husband, and I enjoying the days as they go by in an unrushed, pleasant fashion. But that’s not the world or reality that we live in.

Our days are often rushed (thank you wrecker business), and we are boarders at a medium-sized facility, where running into other boarders is unavoidable.

I was finding myself frustrated after many of these encounters. Honestly, people are rather cold and unfriendly, or full of advice that  I didn’t ask for, and that’s not why I go to the barn. I go to get away from all of those things!

I had an epiphany after two really awesome encounters with people who frustrated me the most. Horse people are just like non-horse people. Hang on, don’t get your feathers ruffled. I know the horse-lover gene makes us our own breed, but we really are the same as someone else, who is passionate about something else.

We have these critters that have captivated our minds and hearts, and we have many things we have tried – some have worked, some haven’t. Things for nutrition/diet, training/exercise, and things for pest control, pasture, sheds and/or stalls. The things that work, we cling to. The things that don’t, we avoid. Just like a non-horse person.

And when someone new comes around, we are afraid of recommendations we know won’t work, we are afraid of finding out we are doing it all wrong, we are afraid of being judged or criticized. We just want to do what works, and keeps our fuzzy, 4-legged baby happy, healthy, and sound.

Now, we also have seen things get horses, or the people who love them, hurt. So, when we start throwing out unwanted advice, we aren’t trying to judge or pick on someone. We want your horse to be happy, healthy, and sound too. And we want you to be safe. We all have those things about horses and their care that really get our attention, and we just can’t slow our mouths down sometimes. Our intentions are not meant to be mean, or hateful (in most cases).

As I was pondering this, and thanking God for the new grace/lens to look through, it made me realize it’s not just a horse people thing. It’s a mom thing, a dog people thing, an artist thing…really, it’s a people thing.

We don’t want to find out we are doing it all wrong. We have our things that work, things that didn’t, and things that we are too scared to try. And as we work through these things, we want people to understand, encourage, and standby us – sometimes without ever offering advice.

So, I’ m going to work on offering less advice, and just encouraging people in their efforts. I’m going to pray for the grace to overlook mistakes, the patience to listen without commenting unnecessarily, and the wisdom to recognize the times that God wants to use me to say something specific.

 

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It’s Good to be Bossy

Normally, I would not claim that it is good to be bossy. In a house of 7, with 5 (sometimes bickering, bossing) kids, I feel like, “Don’t be bossy,” is on the tip of my tongue most of the time. Yet, there are times that I know best, whether my kids want to hear it or not.

There are times I know best whether one of the dog thinks I do, or not.

There are times I know best whether Risky thinks I do, or not.

We have had a few minor injuries, on one dog in particular, and Risky, lately. The dog developed a fly-bite induced sore and subsequent skin infection. His least favorite thing is when I clean the wound, allowing adequate drainage, and put ointment on it. Weighing in at roughly 70lbs, and being an all-muscle boxer makes this task a challenge. Thankfully, my husband is always there with his helping hands so we can keep him taken care of. He’s almost cleared up now, which we are both glad to see.

Risky is struggling with all of the lovely ticks in Oklahoma, and being a Colorado native, she’s neither used to the bites, or the sores that can develop. She recently managed to get a tick in each ear, and she turned a little bit crazy. She wouldn’t let me bridle her, or trim any of the wild hairs around her ears, or pet her near/around her ears for anything. She’s usually very comfortable with being rubbed/petted/messed with anywhere, and I’d never had any issue with her ears. She was acting so crazy, though, that I couldn’t even determine what the problem was. She would fly backwards, and even act as though she may rear. I spent a day feeling stumped by her behavior, and how to help her, until I came to the brilliant realization that we have a vet barn with stocks available for use.

I took Risky down, and much like a trailer loaded session, quietly coaxed her to load up. (Loading in the stocks was much easier than the bear cave I last tried to load her in, honestly.) She get settled in the stock, I gave her a treat, and then latched the gate behind her. Now, I believe in still working on a partnership with her, so I didn’t race for her ears. Instead, I petted her all over and walked around her, talking and waiting for the deep breath, lick & chew, that all said, “Okay, no one is eating me up right now.” It took a few minutes of her snorting in the barn, and even trying to paw a little bit, but she finally brought her head down and let me know she felt okay.

I approached her head, and while talking to her, began working my hand around and over her and in her ear, feeling for anything that was amiss. It didn’t take long to find the blood sucker in each ear, and I carefully removed them. I was glad I only found one in each ear. I made sure to clean her ears up, and apply some stuff to prevent more ticks from finding there way inside. The down side is, none of this immediately relieved her discomfort. In fact, by the look in her eye, and her braced stance, she felt like I was increasing her discomfort. Boy did that make me want to stop – my goal wasn’t to make it worse, not at all! I was trying to help her feel better. But the truth is, when we end up with a blood-sucking, life-draining problem, sometimes the healing that comes after pest-removal is when we start to feel better. The initial plucking just serves to irritate the already sore spot.

I believe we should all recognize who God has given us to speak into our lives – whether our lifegroup friends, mentors, pastors, or other wise and godly counsel. I believe we should pray that God would keep us soft and humble to hear the good things they speak over our lives, and to tolerate the painful pluckings, too. Risky will be better without those ticks in her ears, and we will be better without ________________ (problem that is sucking the life out of us). It takes courage to face those things, and it takes courage to be bossy enough to face the problem head on, but I believe that there are times that we are called to be bossy, and times we are called to listen to those that are bossy. Pray about who in your life should have the privilege of speaking to you about the tough times, and whether or not their advice lines up with His word, and His desires for your life. Not all “bossiness” or advice from friends is safe, or wise to take, but God wants you to have people in your life that push you closer to Him, your spouse, your family, etc.

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?

Look a Little Deeper

Risky reminds me of a lesson I learned years ago, as a young girl with horses. We had a bay mare, named Socks, who came to us in poor condition. Her frogs were rotted out, and she had quarter cracks that were bloody. Her coronets were excessively scarred, and those are just the problems we could readily identify.

Several years later, we had a young palomino gelding, Dreamer, who couldn’t catch a left lead – not in the round pen, not under saddle, and not running around in the pasture.

With Socks, we solved the issues we could see and identify, but we were new to horses, and I believe we never helped her as much as she needed. Lord knows we tried, we just didn’t know to look for some underlying issues. My brother worked hard, under Mom’s supervision, to get her frogs to grow back. With the help of some good farriers (and a few setbacks with not-so-good ones) we got her quarter cracks healed. It wasn’t until after we parted ways with her that we learned about chiropractic care for horses.

The chiropractor was exactly what Dreamer needed. With his spine aligned, and a properly fit saddle, he could easily catch a left lead – under saddle, in the round pen, and in the pasture!

Risky started acting a little crazy when we moved her – I think the combination of weather, hormones, and change in environment got the best of her. All of those things combined sometimes make it hard to show self control, for animals and their human counterparts.

Sometimes we see the bad attitude, the disrespect, the shaking fist, flying finger, or hear a nasty word, but we don’t always know the underlying cause. Often times, the people in our own home are carrying a burden we haven’t noticed, or they are feeling a pain that they haven’t mentioned. We see this often in our blended family – the effects of going back and forth from one home to the next, and the changes in rules, trying to be involved in two completely separate schedules, and trying to remember clothes, shoes, jackets, toys, all of these things add up and wear on kids. (And this is just if there is no nastiness or hate being spread/forced from the other family. That adds a whole new dimension of wear and tear.)

I see it in my husband, too. He doesn’t like to complain, so sometimes instead of saying, “My ________ hurts, I smacked it on the wheel lift,” he gets a little short. I do it, especially if I get hungry! It can be the hardest to show grace to the people we love and live with, and my prayer is that God would show me all the grace they give me, and that His grace would flow through me. I’ve been struggling with it a lot lately. I don’t like coming down on the people I love best with a critical attitude, it’s one of the things I do that bothers me the most.

Considering all of this, causes me to consider the driver that cut me off, the cashier that was rushing me and not very nice, the server that didn’t make it back to fill up my sweet tea, and many of the other people I encounter. What are they facing that is making their day harder, and how can I be a blessing as opposed to being another hurdle in their day?

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This is Dreamer, and his daughter, Sunny.

They are both enjoying life not too far from where my Mom & Dad live.