questions from the barn tonight

sea of trees

Have you ever hit a wall? Wishing it could be a mirror that would reflect back into the world everything you know to be true in your soul?

Have you ever wanted to convince someone so much of something? Of who you really are? What does it feel like when they don’t believe you?

Have you ever seen such beauty, felt such strength, breathed such crisp lovely air? And, then, not been able to pass those sights and feelings on to ones you wish you could?

These are just my random questions to you out there, in blog-land. And to the universe.

“In our world we are constantly pulled away from our innermost self 

and encouraged to look for answers, 

instead of listening to the questions”.

-Henri Nouwen, Reaching out: the Three movements of the Spiritual Life

…courtesy of mindful balance

the other side of fear

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”    –unknown


I was teaching a “saddle club” group lesson the other day with my teaching partner, a lovely lady who is passionate about teaching “riding lessons”. She does not, however, have the background I have in working with children, children with special needs and in the counseling/social work field. She has a 1:1 student-we’ll call her Jane-who also participates in our weekly girl’s group “Saddle Club” riding and education class. My partner has expressed to me frustration in teaching Jane. You see Jane is ten years old, but presents as somewhat slow, unfocused and doesn’t seem to progress in riding skills. During the group lesson, Jane was having difficulty and really holding up the class. She was on a new horse, and could not even get the horse to MOVE. My partner expressed quietly to me that she was increasingly frustrated with Jane and simply losing patience…she expressed that she doesn’t know how to “get through to this girl”. I suggested that we split the group and one of us could take Jane individually so the others would be allowed to continue on with the group lesson. I told my partner that if she wanted I would be willing to work one-on-one with Jane today. She said “yes, please!”. I took Jane to the far end of the arena and started working with her. After some time I picked up on some patterns she was displaying. And I picked up on some tension in her body. I picked up on her fear. I asked her about it and she expressed that she was terrified. So we broke it down, took it literally ONE step at a time. I did some focus excersices with her that I do with my riders who have special needs and/or fear trauma issues. I find it really brings them into the moment, gives them a focus and reduces the anxiety build up. Jane then began to relax and by the end of our time together she was circling her horse around a barrel and back to me, over and over. Thus-as I pointed out to her-showing her that she has control and knows what to do, even beyond her fear. With intention, her horse will respond. It was an amazing 20 minutes. Later, my partner expressed to me that she wishes she had my patience. And that she feels like the parents are “wasting their money” on lessons. I responded back that, perhaps she was looking at this wrong. No, it’s not a “waste”. My partner is focused on “riding lessons”. She wants to see Jane progress in her RIDING. Sometimes, I told her, when I have a child like Jane who has some special needs (in this case, fear), I realign my intention-this is where I firmly believe that riding is therapy. Ok, I do have my “regular” riding lessons. And, yes, I enjoy seeing my girls win their ribbons at shows. My passion, though, is with the deeper stuff. What Jane can do and learn through horseback riding is priceless and worth far more than those ribbons. She is an extremely timid, shy, insecure girl. I suspect, but don’t know (and won’t address because she isn’t my student) that there may be some disability (alter-ability) such as mild Autism or something developmental. Jane is gaining so much more from this experience than my girls who bring home the ribbons are. I promise you that. Strength, focus, confidence, assertiveness, perserverence…. Just getting up on a horse for her is more brave and amazing than you can imagine. AND this is a form of therapy that she LOVES to go to and participate in. Do you know how many kids tell me they hate going to therapy??? So boring! And, all while they sit on the back of a horse in my therapy (office) arena. It really is a beautiful thing.

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways”….John Wayne

Freedom’s just another word

Deep Well Ranch

Hows that lyric end? for nothin’ left to lose. Today I set out for freedom.

You see, my horse. The one I’ve blogged about before. He has been a challenge. A wonderful challenge. We have gone from a bucking maniac to a horse that trail rides, arena works, JUMPS, took second all around in five classes in an English show with one of my students on him. Really, one and a half years of work with this guy and he’s become a wonderful horse. Our last hurdle (I hope anyways) has been venturing out on trails ALONE. A touch of the back story…when I got him I wanted an easy trail horse that I could go out alone on trail rides with. Well, my guy of course took that opportunity to show me the mirror. Show me what I needed to learn myself. I thought about giving up and just getting “an old quarter horse”. Nothing against Quarter horses of course. I love them. But I had to go for something different. That could be a whole different post topic with a psychological twist, but ….anyways. We came through so much. I have been working with him on going out on the trails, the mountain and the ranch land alone. He gets nervous and jumpy. Then, I get nervous and jumpy. We take a little bit at a time and then turn back so we can end on a sucessfull (and, you know, still alive) note. Well, well. I wanted to head out on our own last Sunday. The stable was overwhelming. Everytime I walked out my front door there was someone needing something. Heck, I had three knocks on my door and another person outside yelling “Hellooo?” before 10 AM. I saddled up for my ride and, I kid you not, as I’m mounting a car pulls in full of teenaged girls wanting to see the “rescue horses”. I can’t believe this. I need a break. Please. Peace. Please. I smile and direct them to where the “rescues” are so they can look at them. I let them know they can come back tomorrow (Monday) if they are interested and want further information. Bless them for their interest and hearts for the rescues, though. Really. Then I hit the road, to the trail, to the ranch that is wide open land for riding as far as you could ever want to go. And, today, it was different. I just so deeply felt the need for solitude. For quiet. For peace. Did I already say please? My nervousness took second place to this need. My horse felt it too. He must have. Because he stayed calm and cool the whole way. We went all the way out…through the ranch gate, through the ranch land, we ran. Oh did we run. Full circle back to my title here. “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”. I needed so deeply that FREEDOM, that solitude and that quiet that my fear and nerves subconsciously stepped back and let me have what I needed. That is a rare thing but when your need “rears it’s head”, remember there is no stopping you.

A little magic boot

Yesterday was Three Magic Kings Day here in our barn (…home).  It’s a cultural thing for our family more than anything. Anyways, if you leave your shoe by your bed with a little hay for the camels…those three magic kings will surely stop by for a snack and leave a final small gift in your shoe as the holiday season officially “ends”.

Three kings2

I found a gift was left for me as well…It was a glorious morning.


Snow7As we have also had our first real snow of the season! What a sight to wake to. The picture above is right out of my daughter, Sahalie’s, window overlooking the stalls. Does it get any more magical than this for an eight-year old?


And, the view out the main room window.

Snow12And, walking out the front door. It’s going to be cold. But beautiful. And so quiet. Which is so, so rare and sacred here.

Snow11But, the tractor started so life is good! Otherwise, this could’ve been a long morning trek.


NOW….let the fun begin!





THANK YOU for the gifts of quiet and stillness balanced with fun and chaos. And, the warmth and comfort that somehow follow everyone of these crazy days!