In 2010 I took a step away from the dressage industry: the horses, the 24/7/365 non-stop action and this beautiful barn. I had then (and still do now) felt completely content and satisfied with what I had accomplished in the 25 years or so prior as a rider, coach, competitor and successful business owner. When I left, I set out on a path that included, for lack of another term, to 'know thyself'. To find out who I really was and what I really wanted in life. Dressage and the industry had been good to me but I had come to a place in my heart where I wanted to experience something else - I needed to live life from a different perspective. I had really only known one thing as an adult - how to become better at dressage. I had been on this path to be a better rider, better trainer, better seller of dressage horses, better coach, better manager of people, better, better, better.
When I took my sabbatical I spent time getting to know my children, now grown. When I was a young mom I never really had the time to be there for my kids. Any spare time we had as a family was spent building or repairing something for the barn. There were no weekends fishing or camping. No trips to see the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. If there was a week or weekend away it was to compete at a show or to buy horses in Germany. But taking those 6 years off allowed me time to understand fully what it really meant to be present in my life, and in those lives I loved. I am so grateful I made that decision.
During those years I learned how to sprouts seeds and grains (which I now do for my horses) and about nutrition, GMOs. I learned about quantum theory, emotional intelligence (EQ), how the mind really works and what brain plasticity was. I learned how to change your thoughts and your life literally one neuron at a time. I learned what was really important in our world. I became a life, relationship, business and nutritional coach and I raised hundreds of rare breed, fancy chickens (yes, I know ;), I took trips to awesome places other than Germany or Holland. I took care of myself so that I could take care of others..... and I grew. I learned about absolute gratefulness and what is really important in life.
A little over a year ago I returned to the horse market and dressage, after much persuasion. In November of 2016, we began purchasing and importing horses again. To say it's been challenging would be an understatement. Not because of the horses, or the industry, or the work or even the people. It is because, in truth, it still remains all consuming. I joking say it's like running a day care center with a school, a spa, a gym, a 24 hour cafeteria, a parks and recreation center, a medical clinic and a human resource department except at the end of the day no one ever comes to pick up their kids (horses). The training is incredible, as are the horses. But most importantly, coming back has challenged me to utilized the tools I learned during my sabbatical. Intentionally, one must carve out and create personal time just to rebalance, replenish, reconnect, and recharge and sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to do that. I've had to keep it really real and focus on the bigger picture of what we're all trying to do here on this earth, and in dressage (tongue in cheek). One thing that has me thinking a lot about is the way in which we interact with each other. This horse industry can be so incredible or it can be very, very difficult to maneuver. When we, as riders, trainers, coaches, owners, caregivers, judges and competitors, engage in the sport of dragging others down (leveling) by using our choice of words like weapons, everyone looses in the end. In truth, we rarely really know anything about what someone else goes through, do we? We don't know the fears, insecurities and inadequacies they feel. We only walk in our shoes. In an industry that revolves around being judged better or best, with comparisons made every which way you turn, being judged literally at every turn, it is important to remember kindness and compassion in all we do. It is the single most precious thing you can do for yourself AND for someone else. We are all on the same path trying to get to the same place; we're just at different places on that path. I learned from a great mentor once, which would you rather be, kind or right? Being right doesn't really matter. Being kind does. So let's be kind to one another and remember, we are all the same. Sorry for the long first blog and if you've come this far in reading, thank you. You are very kind! :)