A couple months ago I did something to my lower back that threw me into a downward spiral, eventually ending with Sciatica. It’s some of the most intense pain I’ve ever had and I can’t seem to shake it. It has forced me to slow down and eliminate a lot of unnecessary chores I would normally do. It became really hard to work with the horses I have in training or even walk out to the pasture to get them. But being the type of person I am, I would just grit my teeth and ride anyway even though each day it got worse. Through this whole ordeal I’ve learned a few things. It’s funny how God will find a way to slow me down now and then to teach me something.
1.) Its ok to accept help.
I have a deep rooted desire to do it all myself. I don’t readily accept help and I don’t really like that feeling of helplessness. I’d prefer to just do things on my own and figure it out. I don’t get my independence from a stranger. I come from a lonnng line of strong willed women. A strong will is great for getting things accomplished and perservereing under pressure and opposition, but when my pride gets in the way, it becomes more of a hinderance. There are so many people in my life who would gladly lend a hand and I’ve realized sometimes that is the very thing that will bring us closer.
2.) I’m only human.
It really is a miracle that we can get through any day in one piece with our bodies functioning normally. We are so intricately made and any number of things could go wrong at any moment. So now and then it’s healthy to remember to be thankful that God is allowing me to live and breathe another day and I need to be fully reliant on Him.
3.) Working hard is great, but being effective is better.
Since I haven’t been able to spend as many hours in the saddle I have had to really focus on making the time I am training really effective. I think through things more before I ride and make sure I’m using the time that I have to accomplish what I need to accomplish. A funny thing happens when you’re forced to do more with less. You find out you CAN do more with less. Long rides are great, and they are an important part of training a horse, but short, effective rides are also great and I have found that for some of the horses it has made them try harder and keep their attention on the task at hand.
4.) Every setback is an opportunity
I have learned to see the opportunity in everything. I have had PLENTY of setbacks in any business venture or horse related venture I’ve had. But i am developing a keen eye and a little business sense to see the opportunities that come out of setbacks. For instance, because I’m looking through a lense of chronic pain, I started looking for ways I can take the burden of daily feeding, cleaning and chores of my hands. I had to take the time to crunch the numbers and see what would really pay off. I realized in the process of that, that I can be a more effective trainer if I keep all my customer horses boarded at Windy Ridge Farms instead of bringing them back home for the summer. I will also have the opportunity to help a young lady develop her horsemanship skills and work along side me. I don’t think I would have seen this opportunity if I wasn’t forced to.
5.) Adapt and overcome
Every business owner knows that there will be challenges and set backs. Justin, (my husband) and I have joked about my “turn around time”. The time between when something devestaing happens to the time I bounce back and find the positive in it. I think this is probably the biggest area I have personally grown in the last few years. From numerous horse injuries, broken bones, wasted investments, loss and rapid growth, I have learned how to bounce back quicker, learn from the experience, see the opportunity and move on. I used to feel like anything that went wrong was the end of the world and I could get hung up on that thing for weeks or months. Now I almost feel melancholy about it. Things go wrong every day, it’s just part of life and the quicker I can adapt and overcome, the quicker I can move past it and on to the next thing. Justin is my shining example of this. We are part owners of a dairy farm and between dealing with animals, equipment, weather, technology and employees, Justin has had to become a pro at being adaptable. If he got hung up on every little thing that went wrong throughout the day, he would never get anything done and he would spend the whole day frustrated and stressed. I’ve watched him face some pretty big challenges, (fire, accidents, equipment failures, staff shortages etc.) with a level head. He doesn’t let the problem ruin his day, he goes right to problem solving mode. Of course we all have our moments of frustration but that turn around time is getting shorter and shorter for me.
It’s funny how slowing down has really sped things up for me. It’s forced me to admit that I’m human and can’t be super woman all the time. It’s made me re-evaluate my business and make wise decisions and become a more effective trainer. Seeing the opportunity through chronic pain was tough at first, but I’m trusting that God will continue to use this for His purposes.