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Well we are all moved out of ‘The Ranch’ and I have to say that our culling process was not quite as good as it could have been.  We sold our little vacation cabin a few months ago, and got a storage unit to keep those things in until we got moved.  It’s funny that David and I often comment on how people spend good money to store things they never use… :)

Today we have a plan… we are going to start going through things as we put away and organize the overflowing garage… our plan…?  If we haven’t seen it or used it in the past 6 months, out it goes.  Except of course those strappy little shoes and dress clothes that I only wear on special occasions… oh and the water toys, in case we get another boat someday or someone offers to take us out in theirs… and of course that clock that has been gathering ‘sentimental’ value dust in the garage that grandpa/favorite aunt/best bud in high school gave us 35 years ago… you get my drift…?

But we are committed to not being those people that spend good money storing things we never use… well at least until the end of this month…

My family has always enjoyed garage sales, so I sold Jennifer on the idea of having one at Lawnacres to start building a horse trailer fund.  She is big on recycling, reusing and re purposing everything she can and has visited other people’s yard sales but never had one of her own.  Feeling a little apprehensive about her lack of knowledge of the work involved, I continued to offer an out by warning her several times over the coming weeks that it was a lot of work, people would show up early, try to negotiate down to nothing and drive all over her grass, but with her usual “It’s gonna be great” enthusiasm she wasn’t deterred.

We started the culling process in her garage a few weeks ago and hauled all of the things down to the lower barn.  I began bringing over items gleaned from my own clean-out while moving.  A couple days before the sale, a friend came over, looked over our things and said “are you sure you want to go to all the trouble of doing a sale?  Looks like about $40 worth of stuff here.”  But we persevered, undaunted, determined to give it a go.

Jennifer had other commitments the Friday before the sale, so Lori (the newest Urban Herd member) came over and gaGarageSaleve me a hand opening, cleaning and pricing all of the things in the garage and barn.  We set up tables and moved and organized, and moved and reorganized several times until we were satisfied.  Jennifer’s family hearing of the pending sale jumped in to help and brought items of their own to contribute.  Jennifer’s mother, the true garage savant, began to work her magic in repricing and reorganizing!

My husband showed up to help set up tents in case of rain and as I left for home, wet and tired, Jennifer and her family took over final pricing/organizing and buttoning down shop.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, the signs were placed and we all hunkered down waiting for our flood of customers.  We met some amazing people!  Jennifer, always ready to work with and share her resources with others, struck deals with an agility trainer to share arena space, a neighbor in need of a couple gates willing to install the new ones in trade and another young family in need of a tractor.  She continued to amaze me with her generosity to others.

It was a great day… we met all kinds of people, mostly upbeat and friendly.  A teacher bought Jennifer’s pink barstool for her “Gordon Shed”.  A young family bought her antique farm trestle table for their new home.  It was wonderful to talk to these people and know these items were finding new homes.

As predicted, it was a lot of work, some people drove past our blockade and all over the grass… the remaining items are being donated to a good cause, We got to add a chunk of change to the “Horse Trailer Fund”, and David and I will be out of our storage unit as planned :)

And Jennifer….?  I asked if she wanted to do another such event in the future… “not in a million years my friend, not in a million years”

But I’ve said that after every garage sale I’ve ever had… so maybe see you in the Spring!


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Well, here we are again in the midst of change and embarking on our new adventure.  The property is sold and if all goes as planned, the new owners will take possession the first of August, and we are so grateful that they want to continue to offer the same excellent services to our boarder and lesson clients!

We are preparing for our move by ‘culling’ items from our overflowing “I might need/use/sell that someday” storage areas, and at times it seems a bit overwhelming.  Okay… a lot overwhelming! This house has more storage than I’ve ever had, and we also have 3 outbuilding sheds full of those same type of items.  We made one pass through the house and garage when we first put the property on the market and I have to admit, it was difficult to override that “I might need/use/sell that someday” thinking… but now it’s time to get down to the truth…  do I want to move that “will I or won’t I need/use/sell that someday” item or shall I lessen the load now.

I found a pair of Ray-Bans I purchase awhile back that never fit quite right, but kept them around anyway ‘just in case’ and decided to do a test run on the ‘sell it’ idea.  I took pictures and posted them on Ebay… they sold within a day and I’m $50 to the good after shipping.  It was actually quite easy and it’s given me some incentive to shoot and post some of those other ‘will I/won’t I’ items.

My fear of this culling process is that as soon as I get rid of something the opportunity to use it will appear.  I was talking with my friend Jennifer, who with this unusually warm June weather does not have the luxury of AC, about her need of fans.  “Oh, I have several, I’ll bring some over” I said.  Then I went to the garage to gather up those fans that had been gathering dust since we installed AC a couple years back…. Unfortunately, they were apparently victims of our first culling and were passed along to Goodwill on their way to a new home.  I did manage to locate one lone box fan without feet that somehow missed our culling eyes.

My friend was grateful for the fan, even with the missing feet (she is a true believer in reuse, recycle thinking) but I was chastising myself for getting rid of the fully functioning fans as someone now had a need for them.  Then I remembered, if I wanted to, I could use the $50 I earned on the Ray-Bans to go buy 2 brand new box fans to store in the garage in case someone needed one… someday…

I think I’ll wait until I move… :)





For the last couple years I have really been looking for balance in my life… mental, emotional and spiritual.  And it’s not just finding balance between the three, it’s also finding the balance in each aspect.  As always, I tend to ride a little heavy on the mental side, but I have made significant progress on the emotional and spiritual side.  I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty balanced person, but when faced with conflict, whether it be with a person or decision, I have frequently responded in the following way…

  • I have an emotional response (which usually has something to do with my ego and may lead to ranting tantrums…),
  • I then go to the mental side and try to figure things out (being such a smart girl and all).
  • I then turn to the 3rd aspect… the spiritual side of the triangle.

Fortunately both the mental exercises and emotional outbursts are becoming less and less frequent, and when I do find myself in the midst of one or the other, it takes much less time to realize it and turn for spiritual help.  But this still seems to be the last place I go even though it has been proven to me over and over again it is where I find peace and what I want most… more balance.  It smooths out the edges of the mental and emotional aspect and allows me to have my emotions, as big or as little as they are, without having to dump them all over everyone else.  It’s where I find compassion in the mental judgement of the situation, and allows me to extend grace to others and keep my mouth shut, even when I’m less than enthusiastic about their behavior.  It’s where I find trust that we are all in the care of a higher power, and peace that I’m going to be okay, whatever the situation may be.

My husband and I recently made the decision to sell our beautiful hobby farm.  Coming to that decision was like being on a roller coaster (which I hate), and brought out all those uncomfortable aspects of myself.  I ranted, I became obstinate and determined to make it different.  I cried and felt sorry for myself.  I was angry at others for not doing enough… and off and on throughout this process, I would find the spiritual side and be at peace for a while knowing things would be okay… until I found myself back on the roller coaster on another mental or emotional jag.

I have a really good book on how to live life on spiritual principles and I turn to it often to remind me that when I’m bothered, I am probably out of balance on the spiritual side of the triangle.  To quote a couple lines… “Imagine life without faith!  Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn’t be life.”  and “The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.  On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good.”

I’ve heard it said that pain is in the resistance.  For me, that is in the resistance of living a life based on spiritual principles.  For a long, long time I shut off the spiritual side, numbed most of my emotions, except anger, and navigated through life using mostly logic (self-will).  It served me well in my work life, but wasn’t especially conducive in being successful in my personal or relational life.  I now understand this way of being in the world wasn’t really living life at all.  My body was going through the motions, but I was rarely present.  When my heart and head finally come to rest along with the spiritual, I am able to pay attention and accept things as they were instead of trying to bend reality to what I want it to be.  I get affirmation after affirmation that I am on the right path, even though I may not be ready to commit to a decision and take the necessary action.

Last week our wonderful barn manager was going on vacation and his first day to be gone our fill-in help called in sick.  My worst case scenario, the days chores looming, (no light task), were left to me.  My husband graciously offered to cancel his Tee-time and join me to take care of the days work and I accepted.  We were about half-way through mucking some stalls, and I began thinking of leaving this place, the dreams I had for it, and the people and horses I had come to know and love.  I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to sob… I sobbed through about two stalls before my husband happened to pass by.  He came in the stall I was cleaning to give me a hug and ask if I was okay.  I managed to blurt out ‘I’m just having my feelings’ and we both began to laugh through our tears.  That was when I knew for sure it was the right decision… I had balance… laughter and peace through the tears…

Meet Mikkel…

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I have been wanting to share what we do here and the profound affect it has been having on our clients lives.  The most difficult part of my job is to attempt to explain to others something that is meant to be felt. I cannot tell you the number of times I have scheduled a tour for a prospective Horsemanship client and half-way through their eyes are brimming with emotion.

Due to the nature of this work, it is very personal and sometimes painful, so protecting the privacy of our clients is of utmost importance.  I have asked a few clients for permission to share their thoughts and likenesses on our blog, to help others understand the incredible power of working with an equine teacher and skilled facilitator/therapist that is available here at Horse Haven.

Not everyone has a traumatic past or life challenging circumstances, but everyone can benefit from working with the horses…if only to step away from their busy lives, take a deep breath, and experience being present in the moment!

MikkelBeckerimageWe have recently had the great good fortune to come in contact with Mikkel Becker, a professional dog trainer, freelance writer, published author and horse enthusiast.  She is also the daughter of Marty Becker dubbed America’s Veterinarian who has written several books, including The Healing Power of Pets.  Mikkel is also passionate about the amazing ability animals have to assist people in overcoming lifes obstacles and fears and has worked with dogs and at risk youth.

Mikkel has graciously agreed to enter our program and to journal about her experience with us and the horses.  We hope you enjoy it!

Horses Just Know…

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littlegirlhorseI’ve been reminded recently of this very profound concept.  I’ve spoken of the soul connection that I had with my horse Buck when I was a young girl, and about the animal communicator that came and talked with us and our horses…

2014 is being called the year of Spiritual Growth and new websites are popping up all over with buzz words about the magical, mystical, miraculous ability that horses have to ‘mirror’ us and help us find our ‘authentic selves’, ‘inner child’, ‘woman of wisdom’ etc. etc. etc.  We use some of these same terms and words on our website, but I believe what horses have to offer us goes much deeper and can’t be described with words.  How do you describe something that is meant to be felt?

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone and when they looked you in the eye you felt they could see right inside of you?  I have, and it made me very nervous.  What if they really could see inside… that I’m not who I pretend to be… my weaknesses…my shame…my guilt…my secrets.  What would they think of me then?  What if they couldn’t be fooled with fake smiles, a confident manner or crocodile tears?  What would that feel like?   maskimages

I’ve been told I’m just like a cactus…all prickly on the outside to keep people away, and all mush on the inside.  I think many of us are like that.  But unfortunately, in order to keep others from seeing the not so pleasant side of our humanness, we also end up covering up the good.

I have noticed horses seeming a bit ‘off’ and then find their owners were entertaining thoughts of selling them.  I have seen horses communicate to others who are more open to receiving their thoughts that they want lights off, doors closed, their teeth checked, hate their jobs, love their jobs… and mostly… I think they want what we do… to be truly known and accepted… without judgment or agenda…

The other day we did an experiment in the arena.  We all just pictured Faith taking a step up on the mounting block.  Within seconds she made an attempt – no prompting, no physical pressure, just thought…

So for me, the amazing thing about horses is that we can’t keep things hidden… all we have to do is think it or feel it and they just know…


Horses are NOT Mopeds…

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Moped blogWhen I was young, my family would go camping at the ocean.  Sometimes we would rent mopeds to ride around town and on the beach.  You could go to the rental shop, they would ask if you’d ridden before, give you a quick overview of gas and brakes and then you would climb on, push the start button and off you would go.   While I enjoyed riding the mopeds, it couldn’t hold a candle to the experience of riding one of the rental horses along the beach with the wind blowing in my hair.  I was on top of the world!
As a young women a boyfriend and I decided to take a day trip to the ocean.  Wanting to recreate those joyful memories of youth, I was looking forward to going for a ride on the beach.  When we arrived at the horse rental business, the first question asked by the wrangler was if we were experienced riders.  Wanting to impress my boyfriend, I said yes of course, even though it had been several years since I had been on the Moped blog3back of a horse.  My boyfriend not ever having been on a horse was given a solid bay who looked much like the horses I had ridden in my youth.  However, what was new to me, was that I noticed his scruffy appearance, his shut down, listless demeanor and the lack of life in his eyes.  I wondered if this had been the same condition of the beautifully envisioned horses of my youth?   In contrast, the horse they brought out for me was beautiful!  She was white, held her head high and appeared full of life.  I envisioned myself galloping down the beach on this beautiful white horse with my hair blowing in the wind, and my boyfriend (and everyone else around of course) looking on with awe and envy.  Having everyone look was certainly going to be my experience…but not with awe and envy, but fear as they scattered out of the way ….
We set out up the beach at a leisurely walk and ‘Whitey’ would begin jigging to get moving.  At first it was exhilarating to be back up on a horse, and to show off my riding skills to my boyfriend, but after about 20 minutes I became quite jealous of his ability to sit back and relax and just enjoy the experience on his solid bay.  As we turned to head back to the corral, my boyfriend feeling more comfortable urged Brownie into canter.  ‘Brownie’, now heading for home, was happy to oblige.  ‘Whitey’ it turned out only had one speed toward home…gallop!  My efforts to slow her only turned her into a leaping Lipizzaner! Moped blog4 We continued up the beach turning in bursts and starts, going in uncontrolled circles and bolting forward.  So far everyone had managed to get out of the way, but when we reached a more densely human populated area, I knew I had to somehow get off and lead her to avoid a human collision.  A woman jumping to get out of the way grabbed her red checked towel and waved it toward ‘Whitey’ which caused her to come to a brief stop and I jumped off.  It was then that I noticed the chain strap and old scarring under her chin.  My attitude continued to worsen as we walked the mile or so back to the corral, and as I handed her over to the wrangler he also got a few choice words from me about having such a horse on their rental string and a request for a refund.  His response was to jump on Whitey, spur her into a gallop, then sit back into the saddle and haul back on the reins bringing her to a sliding stop.  I will never forget the look of fear and pain in her eyes.  His parting comment was… “There’s nothing wrong with this horse…I thought you knew how to ride.”  Despite my sadness over the treatment and condition of ‘Brownie’ and ‘Whitey’, a beautiful horse once again taught me a lesson… about the arrogance and pride in my life and what I did not want my relationship with horses to look like.

052In our Horsemanship Program, it’s such a blessing to me to watch as awareness dawns on our clients.  Many come looking for riding lessons, wanting and expecting to get on, ‘push the start button’ and go for a spin.  What they find in our program and with our herd of horses is a whole new dimension… of first building relationships of mutual respect, leadership and trust.

Horses are NOT mopeds… they are living, breathing creatures with emotions and minds of their own, and can so eloquently reflect to us who we are… underneath our skin…if we’re willing to listen.


Make God laugh… tell him your plans…

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I always have plans.  I spend countless hours weighing all the pros and cons to any decision of importance.  Well, to be truthful, sometimes I spend hours weighing the pros and cons of decisions that aren’t all that important too.  Like buying a purse, or a greeting card.  I have to look at every one to be sure I find ‘just the right one’.  So once I’ve spent all that time and thought, I’m pretty sure I’ve come up with The Plan, and I fly down the path oblivious to any inklings that making a turn or two along the way might be a good idea.  I heard someone once say.. “I have a plan.  It’s Plan A.  If Plan A doesn’t work, I just go to Plan A. And if that doesn’t work, I’ve always got Plan A.”  I could relate because I rarely had a Plan B, let alone a Plan C.

One thing this world of horses has taught me is that there isn’t just a Plan A.  It’s good to have a plan, but more often than not, Plan A will make some twists and turns along the way.  If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time you know we have undergone several changes.  While my goal of having a safe, relaxed and inviting environment for our clients and horses hasn’t changed, our programs have.  We started out with a trainer who had a large lesson program.  It was very successful for all of us, but then that changed.  I began interviewing new trainers to try and re-create Plan A, but then realized, while I had enjoyed the financial benefit of a large and successful lesson program,  and all the people and horses I got to meet, I really wanted something smaller and more personal.  That led us to the creation of The Urban Herd.  It started out with me and a couple friends, but it too has undergone some structural changes in how it operates and the horses and people involved.  If as they say, history is a good indication of the future, it will continue to evolve and change.

I used to fight change.  Now I am at peace with it most of the time.  There are still things I want to stay the same and am uncomfortable for awhile if they begin to shift.  But I’m learning that no matter what… it will all be okay in the end.  And more importantly, I’m not in charge.

My husband bought me a license plate frame that was a good reminder that while having a plan is great, being open to changes in course is paramount.  It said “Make God laugh…tell him your plans…”  I planned to have that frame forever….but…. someone stole it.  So much for Plan A.

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