Waiting. Watching. Wonder. Here’s a surprising connection between the season of Advent and Midlife Horses. Merry Christmas, Y’all!

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I’m not usually one to quote church sermons in this blog, but this one hit me right between the eyes. (Busted! Thinking about horses during church) . . . and it was one of those profound connections that came via Mr. Mark (a.k.a. Mark Burrows, and his Children’s First Service (at the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth) that always, for me, hits the nail on the head better than anything else I hear. And this is my Christmas Post, after all, so here we go.

Mr. Mark’s message to the kids was about how people (adults!) during the holidays always rush around in a state of misplaced urgency — shopping, decorating, wrapping and baking,.etc. (Yes, I know that’s the only all this magical stuff happens, but stay with me here) He said that kids, on the other hand, get it. The whole season of advent is, by Design, supposed to be a time of waiting, watching and wonder of all the amazing, magical good things that unfold each holiday season. To kids, of course, a lot of this is about the gifts under the tree; as adults we also recognize the many other wondrous gifts that show up this time of year. We just have to learn to wait for them, watch for them, and when we see one, stop for a moment to appreciate its wonder.

Applying that to working with horses, I began to think about how sometimes we get a misplaced sense of urgency, working on this or that, measuring our progress with benchmarks — our incremental progress to whatever goals we have set for ourselves and our horses.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so caught up in solving problems, going to the next level, and making the progress I deem important that I forget to just slow down, watch to see what unfolds, and just give in to the wonder of it all. Having these magnificent animals as companions and teachers at this stage of life is an opportunity for joy and enlightenment far beyond what I imagined when I began this journey.

So in this season of advent, I wish for all of you a moment of wonder as you look at your Midlife Horses, a celebration of wherever you are on your trail, and for the coming year,  a continuation of the spirit of Advent that will keep us in a state of waiting, watching and wonder at all the delights this journey has to offer.

Merry Christmas, Y’all!

Happy Trails!

The magic of this midlife horse thing? On a good day, it feels like the look on a baby’s face when he tastes chocolate for the very first time.

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Meet Teresa, (pictured here with her midlife horse, Lladro). It was on a quiet morning ride, when Trace and  I were the only other ones at the club,  that we began to mimic, in follow-the-leader  fashion (at a respectful distance on the far end of the arena, of course), Teresa and her beautiful and majestic Fresian through their daily dressage maneuvers.

Here's Teresa and Lladro enjoying one of those "first chocolate" midlife horse moments . . .

We botched them all, of course, as neither of us knew what the hell we were even trying to do, but in the process (and in Teresa’s charitable kindness) a friendship was formed over our midlife horses.

As we rode along afterwards together (with Lladro casting a disdainful but tolerant eye toward Trace) it was our discussion of what our midlife horses mean to us that actually sparked the exploration that, three years later, became my soon to be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning , Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life.

. . . and here, modeling the kind of “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” relationship we all hope for with our midlife horse!

Teresa was giving me the 411 about the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club where I had just moved Trace. “We have the cleaners — they come out every day and clean their stalls their buckets their feed bins. Their stalls are cleaner than my house. We have the groomers, they come out and shampoo, brush, apply hoof dressings and keep their horse looking like a million bucks. We have some that stay pretty much on the ground, others who take a lot of lessons, some ride just for fun and others are very serious competitors — or used to be. There really is something in this experience for everyone!”

“What do you think it is about horses that attract women at this time of life?” I asked in what would become the genesis of this book .

“You know the look a baby gets on his face the first time he tastes chocolate? That’s what a good horse day feels like — and that’s what keeps us coming back for more!”

 

and then, living her midlife horse dream to its fullest expression, Teresa gives us all a vision that is nothing short of magical!

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) - Order yours today at www.horseandriderbooks.com!
Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

 

 

“The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.” Buck Brannaman

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by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

What a profound statement from Dan “Buck” Brannaman in the riveting documentary, “Buck,” now showing in theaters everywhere (learn  more at www.buckthefilm.com) . Go see it and reply to this post with your favorite quote! Free “Saddle Up Your Midlife Horses” t-shirt to the first five who respond!

What is most interesting to me about this statement from this celebrated “horse whisperer” is that, in the midlife horse experience we often completely miss this gift of pure gold.  It’s so easy to blame the horse when things don’t go as we hoped in this relationship. We deny what our horse’s  behavior may be telling us about who we are on the inside. Or, paraphrasing Buck and before him, Ray Hunt, and before him, Tom Dorrance, “horse problems” almost always turn out to be horses with “people problems.”

That invaluable reflection from our ponies, girlfriends, is the essence of what we can learn from our midlife horses. And, whether we like it or want to admit it or not, you can’t fool them or change their opinion. Horses just call ’em as they see ’em . . . and it’s up to us to figure out what changes we need to make so we’ll like what they see in us!

What did my horse, Trace, tell me? (I’m not sure why I’m sharing this, but it does give context to my struggles, documented for all the world to see in my recent book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses.)  That I have an innate tendency to overthink, overachieve and overreact. That I am something of  a control freak and get upset when I can’t have my own way. That I am sensitive to others’ feelings and emotions, need a certain amount of sincere, positive feedback, and am happiest when I have a job to do or something new to learn. I don’t like being pushed around. There’s a certain amount of disrespect I’ll put up with from people if  I like them, but enough’s enough. And bullies bring out the  crazy in me.

Fortunately, my second horse, Rio,  shows me a sweeter, gentler reflection (if a little headstrong): I like to have fun, I’m sweet and committed (sometimes overcommitted) to doing the right thing, loyal as a dog, and my quirky personality gives me a knack for making people laugh — especially when things start to get too serious.

 

What does your midlife horse tell you? Don’t have a midlife horse, but wondering what’s going on in your inner landscape — and outward relationships? Get yourself one of these swishy-tailed mirrors and you won’t be wondering for long!

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

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Happy Trails!

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!