Five Lessons From A Horse

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MEET SCRAPPY as he munches on a snack!

This past Saturday, August 1, 2015, on my fifty-seventh (as in 5-7) birthday, I had the chance to ride a horse for over three hours in the magnificent Rockies!  Some may wonder why I would give out that number, but it is mainly because it is just that, a number and my Mama taught me that “Age is just a matter of the mind, if you don’t mind it does not matter!”

Steve, an Estes Park, Colorado resident and dear friend for decades was our wrangler. From the time I mounted “Scrappy”, to hours later, I was enamored and impressed by this magnificent animal that carried me safely to the top of many mountains. The terrain was even rockier and dustier than usual because of a lack of rain, still, Scrappy did his work and provided me with a beautiful ride. I learned a lot just by being with him all morning!

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Steve and Donny

Did you know? The horses’ senses are based on their status as prey animals, where they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. They have the largest eyes of any land mammal, and are lateral-eyed, meaning that their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads. This means that horses have a range of vision of more than 350°, with approximately 65° of this being binocular vision and the remaining 285° monocular vision.

LESSON ONE: This reminds me to look around, be aware, live in the moment, like a horse does.

Did you know? Horses are herbivores with a digestive system adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material, consumed steadily throughout the day. With such an adventurous summer, Donny and I have been wanting to move towards a healthier and more natural diet, too. <smile>

LESSON TWO: Less meat, more plants, veggies, fruits. Horses inspire us to do just that.

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Three gals I am blessed to do life with, Jan, Jane Ellen, and Ev.

Did you know? Wild horses generally gather in groups of 3 to 20 animals.

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Cindy, the 4th friend on this trip whom I love doing life with!

LESSON THREE: Just like these horses that hang together, doing life with good friends, family, and neighbors is imperative for a fulfilling life. We all need time alone, but we need each other, too!

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While Jonah rides, he gains the courage he needs for his life journey.

Did you know? More and more horses are being used for equine-assisted therapies. It has been clinically documented that just being around horses changes human brainwave patterns. We calm down and become more centered and focused when we are with horses. Horses are naturally empathetic. The members of the herd feel what is going on for the other members of the herd. Jonah’s (pictured above) Mom shared with me: “Jonah simply adores horses and riding. This particular day, his OT had the horse ‘trot’ to help teach Jonah to utilize core muscles and to be prepared for the unexpected. Naturally, in our faith in God, HE ‘shakes’ things up once in awhile. We may not like it, but as in Jonah’s case, maybe HE is strengthening us for something bigger than what we consider ‘purposeful’ in the present. We always need to be on guard and be willing to take the reins and hold on!”

LESSON FOUR: This reminds me of the importance of being a compassionate, an empathic human in the time I have here on this earth.

I cannot tell you why, but this reminds me of one of my favorite songs of which you might want to have a listen, if so, click HERE.

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Scrappy looks down to determine the best way to face the obstacles in his path.

“If you are fearful, a horse will back off. If you are calm and confident, it will come forward. For those who are often flattered or feared, the horse can be a welcome mirror of the best in human nature.”

Clare Balding, retired amateur jockey

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Scrappy and me on August 1, 2015.

LIFE IS HARD and OBSTACLES come up unexpectedly, and this ride was a great example of how to respond to obstacles in your path. Scrappy and the other horses with us had to be alert to all kinds of rocks, big and small in their way. It was astonishing how strong they were as they made their ways through the Rocky Mountains!

LESSON FIVE: Scrappy inspires me to stay strong, devoted, and committed even when times are rough.

How about you?

I hope one or more of these lessons

I have shared here with you will encourage

you to enjoy an even more inspiring life today.

Atlanta Steeplechase 2015: My Four Favorite Things

Considered the city’s largest lawn party, the Atlanta Steeplechase this past Saturday was quite an event! It was so fun taking time out to enjoy an adventure which we had never been on before.

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[pullquote]All equestrians, if they last long enough, learn that riding in whatever form is a lifelong sport and art, an endeavor that is both familiar and new every time you take the horse out of his stall or pasture.”
Jane Smiley[/pullquote]

The setting was beautiful, lush and green. The strong horses raced at about 30 mph. The rain held off until later that day. Did you know? The Atlanta Steeplechase celebrated 50 years this year.

My four favorite things about our very first Atlanta Steeplechase:

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Donna and I have known each other since 1989.
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Pam, from Ohio, and I met today and found out we had a lot in common, including graduating the same year from high school.
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Donna and Jack Cashin

(1) Saturday was a great chance to meet new friends and catch up with longtime friends.

It was especially cool meeting Jack Cashin, who along with his wife, Helen founded Chukkar Farm Polo Club in 1980. As we chatted throughout the afternoon, I considered how there are always new things to learn. ( I knew very little about polo, and I learned new things by talking with my new friend, Jack.)

(2) I always love participating in worthwhile fundraisers, and The Atlanta Steeplechase was no exception. This year proceeds go to help Bert’s Big Adventure, a nonprofit organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families.

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Friends gather at the dk Gallery/Susan Easton Burns tent at the 2015 50th Atlanta Steeplechase.

(3) We celebrated with Artist, Susan Easton Burns. As both a rider and a painter Susan has been immersed in the horse community for more than 20 years. Chosen as the Official Artist of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, Ms. Burns created a dynamic portrait of the greatest horse race in America at historic Churchill Downs. Her knowledge of the equestrian world is intimate and her treatment of the horse on canvas reveals a powerful honesty of connection. 2014 represented the 140 Anniversary of the Run for the Roses. Susan’s art was also used as seen below for the Atlanta Steeplechase 50th Kingston Downs 2015 and can be found at dk Gallery in the heart of downtown Marietta.
IMG_2661(4) In no particular order, one more of my favorite things was being outside in nature, taking in the majesty, beauty, and strength seen in the horses and their jockeys. We have been getting a lot of rain in Georgia and having a dry day to be outside was so refreshing. It was a perfect day to enjoy a new adventure in this life.

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Artist, Susan and dk Gallerist, Donna stand with Susan’s painting.
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Donna enjoys a moment with her assistant, Ashley.
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Friends gather at the 2015 Atlanta Steeplechase

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[pullquote]

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

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Is there an adventure that you have never been on

that you’d like to make plans to go on in the weeks and months ahead?