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Our Kingdom Is the Horse

Ahhhhhh…what is it about horses and women? Horses provide enrichment to our lives that nothing else can match. Yet, if our enchantment with these magnificent animals goes overboard, our passion can seemingly turn into a fatal attraction. Whether you're a rider or horse owner, you've probably faced the dilemma of how to fit horses into your life. If you work with horses as a career, you've probably tried to figure out more than once how to fit a life into your horses. The following strategies can help.

Sit down and make a list of what's important to you. This includes work, family, friends, horses, hobbies, and community service or volunteer time. Maybe your list doesn't have all these items on it, maybe it has more. Either way, you've now identified your priorities. Your priorities don't need to be put in a particular order, just know what they are. Priorities are something we all learn to juggle. Picture them as a revolving wheel, or perhaps a merry-go-round. Any given day can bring new circumstances, so the merry-go-round pony you choose today may give way to selecting a new one tomorrow. What was most important today can cycle out as a new day dawns. Its not gone or thrown out, and it will cycle back. The merry-go-round doesn't get lopsided if all the ponies get their ride.

Be in the present moment. You'll find more satisfaction with each aspect of your life that is important to you. You'll notice the beauty of each of the painted ponies on your priority merry-go-round. Do what is most needed today — you don't really know if there is a tomorrow. Remember that horses can take more time than anticipated — you couldn't catch them, or they rolled in the mud when you were thinking you'd squeeze in a quick ride. Don't cut your intention short; you only cheat your horse and yourself. Remember that work can take more time than anticipated. A co-worker is sick and you need to cover. A new promotion means more hours. Remember that family can take more time than anticipated. One of your kids gets hurt climbing trees. Your significant other has been out of town and arrives back on a big horseshow weekend.

Recognize and express the importance horses have in your life. The following quotes are from peers around the U.S. that are active with horses as riders, owners, and in some cases as a career. It's clear that horses provide great benefits to many, making us better people to be around in general.

  • "Horses are such great therapy and give back in so many ways that they are worth the effort and expense and hair." – Jennifer Peotter, MA
  • "In this world you never know what the next day may bring and you need to stay grounded. Sometimes a horse or pet may be the answer to your needs. They give unconditional love so they can help you when nothing else can." – Cindy Orris, PA
  • "Ride at least once a week for your sanity." – Barbara Burke, NH
  • "Follow your dreams no matter what. Horses add love, compassion, balance, and spiritual meaning to my life. I am lost without them." – Kelly Loring, CO
  • "I find I actually do better work in the office when I make the time to ride." – Kandee Haertel, IL
Take charge, seize the moment, find the way. Here are a few ways to keep your priority merry-go-round from going past you at a dizzying pace, leaving you feeling there's no way to choose a pony.
  1. Encourage your significant other to pursue his own passion while you spend time with your horse. You'll discover that the time you share together is even better since you both have your "alone time" and your "us" time.
  2. Invite your significant other, family, and friends to join you doing something horsey from time to time too. They'll get to see a side of you they don't usually see. Reciprocate, and enjoy seeing them in their element as well.
  3. If you move your horse home so you can be closer to him, you may find that your love for horses rubs off on your family. It may become a family hobby in this case. This can't be forced however. Another way to share horses is through volunteerism. Get your family involved in helping at a therapeutic riding, Special Olympics, or Personal Pony program. They receive the benefit of experiencing horses as healers in addition to learning the value of volunteerism and helping others.
  4. Try to locate your work and horse relatively close together. You may be able to capitalize on shorter periods of time that you have. Take a quick bareback ride, put in a mini-schooling session, work your horse in hand, or take him out for a quick graze. Budget your daylight hours if you don't have the benefit of an indoor arena, or a lighted outdoor arena.
  5. To relieve financial stress that horses may cause, you may have to evaluate what you can go without in your "civilian" life. Perhaps your horse shows take the place of that vacation to a tropical island. It's just as important to strategize your choices for horse activities. Choose advantageous shows, clinics and seminars rather than trying to do it all.
Last, but not least, know your limits. Though we try, it's impossible to be everything to everybody. Include time in your schedule book for your horse if you're an owner or rider. Schedule time for yourself if you're involved with horses as a career. And learn to use that simple two-letter word — NO — when something else tries to intercede. NO is our half-halt, that gives balance, rhythm, and regular pace to our lives. Your painted ponies will be thankful that you've mastered this aid — so will you!

Lisa Derby Oden is principal and owner of Blue Ribbon Consulting www.horseconsulting.com which offers business development, marketing and professional development to the horse industry.

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