This is true. I hear it a lot. Especially when I bring visiters by.
Everytime a friend expresses interest in meeting my horse I do my best to arrange a time when they can come to Maple Row Farm. I love showing Annie off!
Last year my sister and her husband traveled to my neck of the woods from Kansas where they have an alpaca farm. My sister had been to Maple Row before but my brother-in-law had never seen the farm. I felt a guy who builds barns and cares for animals like he does should check it out.
During the time we toured the barns they met Annie, Daisy the pig, Fritz the cat, as well as the awesome landmarked buildings. We also ran into several boarders, horses and the owner of Maple Row herself, Pam. Everyone we ran into had a smile and time to stop to chat a bit. Pam takes the time to answer questions and share horse community info as if she has all the time in the world.
As we drove away, my sister said "The people at your barn are all so nice!" It's funny how happy and proud that made me feel.
Yesterday I drove to the barn with a friend of mine, her daughter, plus my daughter and a young woman visiting my friend from abroad. We had a wonderful time even though it was a dark, coldish, rainy day. One fellow boarder even brought out her quarter horse to show the girls how he can count. For treats of course! My barn friends couldn't have been more friendly, welcoming and warm to my unexpected group of visitors.
As we left the barn to find food for lunch my non-horse friend said, "What nice people!" with a chorus of agreement from everyone.
Maple Row is a haven. Everyone supports everyone else. There may be a few exceptions but I can't think of one right now. I suspect the owner may have a secret system to weed out potentially not-so-nice-people in the boarder application process. Maple Row is not a show barn, so there's no stress or pressure to train. That probably helps. We are mostly just plain horse lovers who want to enjoy our horses and care for them the best we can. Down to earth, relaxed, friendly. I love it.
Annie's home is a treasured constant in my life. Even when I am up to my eye balls with work and family matters that demand my attention, all I have to do is think of Annie in her paddock at Maple Row and I find a little corner of peace for my spirit.
And when I do have time to drive out to be with her I always leave with a smile, not just because of Annie, but also because my Maple Row peeps are so awesomely nice!
My good friend, Amy Jo Lauber, is a wonder. A Certified Financial Planner, Amy Jo is a business owner, writer, community leader, dedicated mom and truly one of the nicest people I know. When I read this article on her blog LIFE: Live Inspired Financially Empowered I asked if I could share it here. She readily said yes.
“Keep your eyes focused on where you want him to go.” Sounds simple enough, right? Our daughter’s riding instructor reminds her of this regularly, because the horse goes where her eyes go.
If I didn’t see this for myself I wouldn’t have believed it. Sure enough, as soon as our daughter looked over at me (her gaze saying “Look mom!! Look!” ), the horse slowed down and lacked direction. She may have been holding the reigns but her eyes were the real steering tools. Perhaps the horse sensed her need for attention and was stopping long enough for me to notice them.
Too often we can take our eyes off of the prize and get discouraged, lose direction, or question our goals and our choices. Shifting our gaze – literally or figuratively – takes us off track often without any benefit.
Sure there are times when pausing, questioning and re-evaluating our course is not only beneficial but necessary. I’m not talking about that, though.
There was another instance I observed when another riding student was trying to make the horse canter (run). But when the horse started to take off, the rider got a little startled and instinctively pulled back on the reins to steady herself, causing the horse to slow down. How often do we do the same thing when our financial situation starts to improve suddenly and we’re concerned about – gosh, anything – and pull back as a reaction?
If we are uncertain what it is we’re doing or where we’re going, why bother getting in the saddle? Too often I see people who do what I call “wander and squander” when it comes to money.
Search your soul for your life’s goals and once you find them, commit to them, believe in them, and then passionately pursue them.
Today I went to see Annie. It's been almost a month since my last visit due to all the usual excuses. Still, as I entered the barn she nickered when I said, hi. She's so forgiving. I love her so much. There's my girl! All beautiful, despite a neglected mane that clearly could use a good pull.
After giving her a big hug and rubbing her face and neck, I put on her halter and lead her out of her stall so that I could muck it out. For this purpose I put her in the small paddock at the back of the barn so that she's close by in case she gets nervous.
Horses are herd animals. Being out all alone can make them a bit anxious. Annie's comfy in what we call the "gravel" paddock, gravel because there's not much grass in there. I can keep a close eye on her and she can hear me and her pals inside.
When I was up by the manure spreader dumping Annie's stall muck, I could see her start to roll in a patch of mud in the center of the gravel. It made me laugh as I fumbled to capture the moment on my phone. Happiness just filled me up!
"I would name the natural world as a spiritual teacher... Western culture assumes that only a human can teach spirituality, but in Indigenous worldview, any creature, any natural element can be a teacher. We can learn a lot if we learn to listen to and observe the natural world."
"When you pet a dog or listen to a cat purring, thinking may subside for a moment and a space of stillness arises within you, a doorway into Being." ~Eckhart Tolle
Annie, and my dog, I can't forget him, have taught me as much about living in the moment as any one person, maybe more. To find gratitude in small things like a patch of mud in the paddock, appreciate how all of my senses work in harmony, the smell of sweaty horse, leather and barn, the sight of a big sky full of heavy rain clouds about to burst, letting go of the high-tech stress of the world to focus on lifting a pitchfork full of manure...
Having Annie in my life invites me to take part in all of this just by being and I am so much the better for it.
Thank you, Annie. Namaste, sweet baby girl.
Do you have your own animal guru? A cat or bird? Gerbil, alpaca? Please tell us about your special animal and how he/she makes a difference in your life and peace of mind. Just click on the comment tab below. :)
Stage I: Fall off pony. Bounce. Laugh. Climb back on.
Stage 2: Fall off horse. Run after horse, cussing. Climb
back on by shimmying up horse’s neck. Ride until
Stage 3: Fall off horse. Use sleeve of shirt to stanch
bleeding. Have friend help you get back on horse. Take
two Advil and apply ice packs when you get home. Ride
State 4: Fall off horse. Refuse advice to call ambulance;
drive self to urgent care clinic. Entertain nursing staff with
tales of previous daredevil stunts on horseback. Back to
riding before cast comes off.
Stage 5: Fall off horse. Temporarily forget name of horse
and name of husband. Flirt shamelessly with paramedics
when they arrive. Spend week in hospital while titanium
pins are screwed in place. Start riding again before doctor
gives official okay.
Stage 6: Fall off horse. Fail to see any humor when hunky
paramedic says, “You again?” Gain firsthand knowledge of
advances in medical technology thanks to stint in ICU.
Convince self that permanent limp isn’t that noticeable.
Promise husband you’ll give up riding. One week later
purchase older, slower, shorter horse.
Stage 7: Slip off horse. Relieved when artificial joints and
implanted medical devices seem unaffected. Tell husband
that scrapes and bruises are due to gardening accident.
Pretend you don’t see husband roll his eyes and mutter as
he walks away. Give apple to horse.
Via the WNY Horse Council newsletter with thanks to Pam of Maple Row Farm for sharing!
went to the barn yesterday. After scraping a truck load of mud off of her I took Annie for a walk. That isn't Annie in the photo but it gives you an idea. Her mane was a dirt ball tangled in burrs! She's usually a fastidious mare. I think she
ran into the wrong crowd, went to some dodgy clubs and rolled in the muck and mire.
Grooming tip: As I was picking the burrs out of her mane, hair by muddy hair, a barn buddy walked by and said "Show Sheen! Use Show Sheen and they will fall right out." Damn! I ran to my tack cubby, grabbed the Show Sheen and with a good spray those burrs did come out easier. Annie's mane isn't real thick to begin with so I was grateful for the tip!
Then I looked more closely at the photo. Double take! His stylish bedroom was filled with horses! Drawings, paintings, figurines, prints, tchotchkes!
You, dear reader, probably already knew this. Carson Kressley is a passionate horse lover and an accomplished equestrian from way back! When he was five years old he had a pony named Sparky! Awww!
Now he shows American Saddlebreds, riding, driving and loving them. Somehow this all makes sense! Of course Carson is a rider! Of course he loves horses! Why? For the same reason we all do. Because they keep us sane!
When The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense was first published in German in 1936 it was at once recognized as a major contribution to psychoanalytic psychology, and its translation into English quickly followed. More than half a century later it enjoys the status of a classic. Written by a pioneer of child analysis, and illustrated by fascinating clinical pictures drawn from childhood and adolescence, it discusses those adaptive measures by which painful and unwanted feeling-states are kept at bay or made more bearable.
Anna Freud's arguments have a clarity and cogency reminiscent of her father's and the work is remarkably undated. Nothing stands still, but The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense has unmistakably passed the test of time.
The take away message from this book that stuck with me is that ego defenses such as denial, repression, identification and rationalization work to protect ourselves from painful anxiety. The defenses themselves are a gift from nature, just as anxiety is when we need it to warn us there is something in our environment that could harm us. It's just that both anxiety and the accompanying defenses can get stuck in overdrive, causing us to over-react, over-compensate and generally over-mess up our lives.
So how can we tell when our defenses are good and when are they getting in the way? That's a tough one. My first answer is the fall back, "I don't know how to define it but I know it when I see it." That's lame and not as helpful as I'd like it to be. Sorry.
What I can say with confidence is that most of the people I work with, people with thin skins, (and most people with depression or anxiety have thin skins) need to boost their ego defenses, not lower them. They need permission to put up that force field so that the nasty people or the difficult situations can't hit them so hard.
This video was shot in the Spring of 2011. (I have no idea why it took so long for me to publish it.) I compare the gear I put on to protect myself when I ride Annie to allowing myself to have good protection for my self-esteem.
By the way, I mention half chaps and forget to show you what they are in the video. You can click here to see a photo. Half chaps are these cool gator-like leg coverings that slip over your paddock boots. They protect your lower legs which work hard applying aides to your horse. The times I rode hard, like during a lesson, without half chaps or full riding boots, my inner legs felt bruised and tender. Ouch!
Please let me know what you think in the comments! Your input is very much appreciated.
Annie teaches me so much I started this blog to record and share it all. Humans learning from horses is not new and lately it's becoming an industry.
The other day I was half listening to NPR as I usually do while I go about my chores at the office or at home. Suddenly I heard "...horses..." on the radio and I was all ears. It was a story about The Horse Institute, where trained faculty offer equine-assisted learning to corporations.
I liked what Marie-Claude Stockl, the executive director and co-owner,said:
“The biggest problem in the corporate world is that we don’t live in the present....When we come to the workplace,we bring in grudges and things from the past and worries about the future. Horses live in the present. They don’t hold grudges. They’re happy to try something new, unlike many of us who remain stuck in the past. Living in the present works for horses. I think it works for humans, too.”
Then more recently there was this article in the New York Times: "Finding Inner Peace, Not Your Inner Cowgirl." Annie's response? "Of course I live at a spa. Room service, regular exercise, rub downs... Just don't ask me to do yoga!"
That's the zen of it all. Being present for Annie teaches me how I can be more present for my kids, husband and most remarkably, for myself.
My practice offers a 30 minute initial consultation in the office, with Skype or on the phone, at no charge! We can discuss what your needs are, answer any questions you have and make a plan. Call 716.308.6683. Email works too (click below).
You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by taking this little step!