Friday, January 1, 2016

A Changed Mind...

"There is nothing as powerful as a changed mind."
-Bishop TD Jakes

As we start a new year, I am engaging in the typical reflecting-on-the-past-year and looking-toward-the-next-year thinking.  Last year at this time, I was marveling at how things had changed in a positive way for me as a result of my commitment to endurance riding.  This year, I can only stand back in amazement as I realize we had our first completion, we conquered the first 15 miles of the OD trail that is our end goal, and my husband and I bought land for a future horse farm.

It's impossible for me to know, of course, how my life would have gone if I had never become interested in endurance riding, but I am certain that I am happy with the direction it is going.  There have been ups and downs, but overall, this past year is one that has no regrets for me.  

And now that I am looking forward to the next ride season and building a barn, I cannot help but think that there is nothing so empowering as a changed mind.  Over the years, I have changed the way I think about so many things, from where I buy my food to how I feel about kids to what kind of soap I use.  It almost seems as if after the first time I changed my mind about something, a door was broken and all kinds of new ideas had the opportunity to be thought.

With Nimo, I think the first change was when I realized I didn't need a riding instructor to tell me how to ride my horse.  It turns out that with over 3 decades of experience, I can actually stay on him (most of the time, anyway) all by myself.  After that, I started questioning things like keeping a horse in a stall overnight and using a farrier to trim Nimo's feet when I could really do it myself.  Then came all sorts of wacky ideas about changing the way I feed him and what supplements might work.  Next, it was whether Nimo even needed a bit in his mouth.  And maybe I didn't need to use a whip as much or with the same intensity.  Now, the opportunity to have my own barn means all components of horse care are wide open to rethinking.  What kind of grass and hay is best?  What kind of shelter should we build?  What should we use for footing in the sacrifice area and arena?  How should we structure the paddocks?  Can we have trees and grass and horses all in the same acreage?  Maybe we should put some obstacles in the tracks around the fields or build a sand pit or a mud hole so the horses can have enrichment areas.  Maybe the barn doesn't need to have stalls at all.  Maybe the tack room could have heating and air conditioning and a bathroom and a washing machine.  (OK, so that's not really a change - I've always wanted those things!)

And while I'm thinking about how changing my mind about things has lead to positive changes, I'm also thinking about how sometimes one or two (or possibly more) of the ideas that I have don't work.  And how that is OK.  It can be frustrating (can we say hoof boots at the OD, anyone?), but I've found that some of my greatest learning and best breakthroughs occur right after I get really mad and frustrated.  It's almost as if that is a necessary part of the process.  Nothing seems to motivate me more than working really hard to get something right and then having it utterly fail.  So while I admire (and sometimes desperately wish I could be) those people who always seem to have it together and who manage to do endurance ride after endurance ride with a successful completion, I don't think that is my path in life.  My path is to experiment and change my mind and fail and try again until I get it right.  And then blog about the whole mess so I serve as an example of what not to do for others:)

As I wrap up my December Daily posting and go back to my more usual once-a-weekish posting, I'd like to leave you with this video that a thoughtful reader sent to me.  It fits perfectly into how I want to look at life this year, and I hope you enjoy it:)

I wanted to share this with you because the speeches in it got me thinking for the better. It was exactly what I was needing. This goes so much deeper than equestrianism. Even if you're not into horses, just listen.. & Yes, I made this video, but I do not own the clips or audio.
Posted by Kaitlyn Brooke on Wednesday, December 9, 2015


  1. When you mention how endurance changed your horse keeping paradigms, I am reminded of the changes it began in mine too. Like you, I boarded my horse when I began, and immediately figured out that you can't keep an endurance horse in a stall. So that barn had to go: ) Then I learned the importance of unlimited grass hay. I made beet pulp at home and drove it out to the barn in a tupperware.

    I've seen some wonderful open-floor plan barns where the horses share the area. In one situation, the horses were trained to pee and poop outside on the adjacent covered area with deep straw, so all the straw in the barn stayed clean. It was a beautiful, awesome situation where the horses could move around a lot even in Winter, due to this open barn plan.

    If I could go back in time and start again, I would never have bought a horse property that is not accessible by a tractor, nor one so incredibly slanted that there is absolutely no area that is flat. Even my grooming spot where I trim hooves is slanted, which doesn't make it easy to trim. Actually we're putting this farm on the market (I haven't mentioned that to anyone yet....)

    It's so fun to read about your journey to 100 miles and a farm of your own. But...making a mud area? *lol* Weren't you just saying you had to spray off his legs so he could actually lift them? *lol*

    1. The open barn idea sounds interesting, lytha. I've been playing around with lots of different barn designs and I'm leaning toward something where there is a run-in area instead of stalls (but metal livestock panels could be used to make a stall if one was needed). And I smiled when I saw your comment about the mud. I do hate it, but I'm planning to manage it to the point that creating some kind of water/mud area would be appropriate.

      Good luck selling your farm. I know what you mean about lack of level ground. Our house is built into the side of a fairly steep hill and even putting in a 4x4 garden bed is an exercise in engineering. I am so excited to have flat ground at our new place!