This summer was unlike any summer I have ever had since we opened Vinland Stables back in 2006. Not only did I have surgery (I donated a kidney) in July but I had to hand the reins over to a team of people who would run my barn from the beginning of the day all the way until barn closing each evening for the rest of the summer. It was something that I was secretly nervous about on the inside. If you have your own business then you know exactly what I am talking about. It turned out to be the most relaxing summer I have had in over a decade!
When we built our boarding facility many years ago, I had no idea how much my life would change. I thought it was only about the horses in the beginning...I was so wrong and I am glad I was. I never expected that one day I would share an entire week in a hospital with one of my boarders but it happened. I wanted to share this unexpected and beautiful story about horses, friendship and a much needed kidney donation.
If you are boarding horses for a business then I encourage you to read this post. Anyone that has owned a horse business has probably at one time or another second guessed their decisions regarding their business and fear usually plays a part in all of it. It can be very stressful and even scary trying to run a boarding barn especially when you have a business mortgage each month and empty stalls that aren't bringing in any money. I have been there and it is a terrible way to live and the more I talk with other barn owners I am finding out how common this is. What can be even worse is when you compromise how you run your barn and your beliefs for a few extra dollars. Do I have your attention? I sure hope so.
I have to say that I love being fifty-something! At this point in my life I am willing to be bold and try new things without much of the worry whether they flop or not. I was cleaning stalls this morning with my husband and these words kept popping into my head in a poem and I decided to take a leap of faith and put them all together. This poem is for anyone that has chosen to work in the equine industry and I hope it encourages you and lifts you up. Please never forget, we are all in this together to support each other no matter what part of the industry you work in. Here it goes...
Where does confidence come from? That is a great question and I believe as women we are always trying to figure out who and what impacts our confidence. Owning your own horse business will test you beyond your wildest imagination and put you in many situations where you have to make decisions despite lacking confidence to do so. You will not be given any other option and you will need to rise to the job ahead and not look back. The great thing about the whole process is even though you will start out with very little confidence, with every decision you make your confidence will grow. You probably won’t even notice all the changes taking place in you until you reach about the fourth or fifth year of running your horse business.
Christmas is only a few days away and again I am running behind on shopping for gifts and sending cards. The weather here in Wisconsin has not been kind the last couple of weeks and we have had painfully cold temperatures. It is the kind of cold that hurts to be out in and feeding horses and cleaning stalls is something that still needs to be done but often the joy has been replaced with frustration and exhaustion and survival! Now I know I am exaggerating about the survival part but when you are working in it, that is at times how it feels. The extreme cold temperatures will wear me out unlike any other time of year when I am working in the barn. With that said nothing else gets done for a few hours after I get back in the house. I thaw out a bit and many days (okay, almost everyday I need to lay down for bit) which drives my kids crazy!
I have always loved the Australian Cattle Dog. They are a wonderful breed and a great dog to have on a farm or ranch. I have owned a couple of these dogs over the years and they are extremely intelligent and very devoted to their owner.
My first cattle dog was named Crackers and I bought her as a puppy. When Crackers turned ten years old I started to notice that she was having a hard time seeing. She would bump into things once in a while but then I knew something was bad when she fell through the hole in the hayloft where we drop our hay. Thank goodness she was okay but I took her to my veterinarian and he right away told me she was losing her sight. He didn’t know how long it would take until her vision was completely gone but he figured within a year. Well my sweet little dog lost her vision much quicker and by the end of summer she was completely blind. I asked my vet what we should do and he told me she would be just fine as long as we kept everything the same in the house and didn’t change the furniture around. I would need to watch her closely when she went outside but for the most part blind dogs can adapt just fine.
It was late November and it was snowing outside pretty hard. It was our first heavy snow of the season and I let Crackers outside to go to the bathroom. I didn’t give much thought to the snow and went to the kitchen and a couple of minutes later I went back to check on her. She was gone! She never went far but she was gone and on top of it, she was mostly white herself. It was dark outside and I started calling and as I looked over towards our street I saw this little body standing out in the middle of the road. It was her. She was frozen in her tracks and couldn’t move. I ran over to her and picked her up and took her inside. I realized right there that she couldn’t feel the ground and lost track of where she was due to the heavy snow. It broke my heart but I was relieved she was fine. From that day forward I went with her every time she went outside. I didn't leave her side.
When I think about my sweet dog, I realize I am just like her in so many ways. I am blind to where I am going most of the time and that is when I need God to come and pick me up and take me inside where it is safe and warm.
Romans 8:39 NIV
Neither height nor depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today's post is a short excerpt from my daily devotional book, "Caring for horses with a Servant's heart." It is a lovely book about life on our horse farm and how I see the lord in all of it daily. This book is 365 short stories that will have you looking at horses, chores, your horse business and all four seasons in a whole new way.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,
Starting a horse business was not supposed to be this way! I don't feel respected in my own barn and I don't even know who I am anymore. Why didn't I just say no? When did I become so crabby...I used to be fun! Crying seems to be part of my life these days. My husband and I don't talk anymore and I never see my kids unless they come out to the barn. I can't seem to find a balance in all of it. Can I do this? Do I know enough to do this? Have you said some of these things to yourself? If you have then I believe you are pretty normal!
I have had the privilege of talking with so many women from all over the country and I now realize that most women experience these same thoughts, feelings and struggles sometime during their business career. They have this passion and love for horses and turn it into a career but the career became much more challenging in so many ways. Becoming a professional horsewoman and making a living in the horse industry is a dream come true for many women but it can wear you down and burn you out easily if you are not prepared. I know this from first-hand experience. Not only is it a very physical and mental career but it is so unique in itself because you are working with horses that need care seven days a week, every day of the year. Then you add in the clients and you have a career that will have its own unique set of circumstances and rules.
Tugging at my heart
Over the last two years, my heart has been leading me to write my new book, "One Horsewoman to Another." I knew it was going to be emotional for me but I also wanted it to be a book about perseverance, courage and hope for the woman that you are and the equine professional inside of you. This book is unlike any book you will ever read in the horse world. This book is for you ladies. It was written to encourage you and have you reach deep inside yourself to find out what is really important in life and your horse business. It is about the journey we all take as businesswomen and equine professionals and finding out what works best for you and gaining confidence through all of it.
Remember that you are a woman with so much to offer. You give depth to business ownership that will make your business incredibly special. Don't underestimate all that you bring to your barn and the horses and clients in your care.
This book was written because I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to be successful in your horse business but not if it means losing yourself or all that is important to you in the process. I believe as women, we can have it all but we just need to find a balance in all of it.
My new book, "One Horsewoman to Another," has just been published and I encourage you to get a copy. This book will uplift you and get you to start looking at yourself in a new way. You are on an incredible journey and you are incredible for even taking a chance. Today I celebrate the horsewoman you have become! Christmas is right around the corner...Give the gift of encouragement this year to the horsewoman in your life.
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,
It is early Sunday morning and the house is quiet except for me making my coffee. This is my favorite time to write and my head always seems to be the most clear before the day begins. Morning chores come early and soon I will hear the nickers of many horses anxiously waiting for me to feed them.
I have had the pleasure of talking with so many women from all over the country who are starting out in their horse business or have been in it for a while. Throughout all the conversations there has been one common theme. Each one of these wonderful people got into this business with a dream and passion and now were struggling in many different areas of their business and it was much harder than they ever expected. My heart broke for each of them and I could feel their pain completely because I have walked in their shoes and it is a difficult place to be.