Being in a New Place

We recently added this amazing new guy to our home.  He’s a former eventer and very good at his job!  However, he has an injury which makes him no longer sound for big events.  This isn’t easy for him or anyone I am sure!

He is having to learn this new life and in a new place.  No one told him that he’d have to find a new home and like it there!  Now don’t get me wrong we are a great home!  He has lots of sun, grass and hay.  He can go in and out and do what he’d like, however this is still a new place with new people and new rules.

You see there is this one horse whose the boss, she’s kind of an old maid who tells everyone else what to do, and a young one who just wants to play and another boy, but he’s also new.

If you can imagine this is how alot of us feel when we start someplace new.  The rules are new both spoken and unspoken.  We have to learn how to navigate those, but we have the benefit of being able to ask questions and talk.  Horses do not!  So what would happen if you couldn’t ask those questions? Or if everyone spoke a different language?

As leaders it’s our job to make sure that everyone understands the rules and the expectations.  I read something recently where a leader said she had a team member who would go MIA on SLACK for long periods of time during the day.  He’s getting his work done but she wants him available during the day.  In his previous job he may have had that flexibility and is thinking this is the same.

By not saying anything we are treating him as if he can’t speak the language.  By simply expressing our expectations and talking about what we need will help everyone.

Let’s make sure that we are all communicating the same to help both our new and existing team members.   Say Hi to our newest Team member Slick!  AKA #slickwilly



Making Assumptions

My amazing husband and I were in the car the other day and he was telling me about his new boss. He is excited to work for her and with her and feels she will offer more support than his previous manager.

He also told me a story about a call he took with a manager who essentially yelled at him for taking a call from home and not being in the office.  His manager politely told the other manager that he was off because his wife (me) was having emergency pelvic surgery after a bad fall from her horse. The manager apologized.. but you could tell she was holding assumptions that were simply not true.

This got me thinking about how as leaders we often make assumptions about our team based on what we think or feel or even what we’ve been told by others. Instead of investigating the idea and coming up with our own opinion we make up the story in our head ahead of time and then fail to realize that our story might not be true.

If that manager had asked instead of going right to being angry she would of learned that my husband was taking the call from the surgical waiting room while his wife was in a 6 hour surgery having pins inserted into her pelvis.

As leaders, we need to stop our assuming and make our own ideas. How many times have you taken someone’s word because they are another leader or someone we admire.  They tell us that person is bad, or lazy, or bad at their job and we take their word for it.

Instead let’s make our own opinions and stand up for that person! That person might be lazy or bad at their job or maybe there isn’t something going on and we don’t know about it.  They could be caring for a sick spouse or child or balancing older parents with the responsibilities of regular life.  Why won’t we ask whats going on, share what WE are seeing or feeling and find out what’s going on. Maybe that person was moved to a new job but they don’t really feel it’s a fit.  Maybe they don’t realize that they aren’t living up to the expectations of the job and need an adjustment.

Next instead of assuming, let’s take a breath..



It takes a Village

I was going to post this in February – as an honor to a year post fall. However, I just don’t want to wait anymore and since this is my work I am posting it today.

Pictures from this week and 2011

She’s just a blue halter…

This story is a mixture of fact, fiction and embellishment. However, it is true of many horses who are rescued.
The below was written by the team at Healing Hearts, Hooves and Paws the day Zora arrived at their rescue barn.
“Day one:
I was afraid of the pretty blue halter and lead rope and the scary new guy who turns out horses. Miss G had to spend some time with me in the stall and a couple carrots to get my halter on. Then we went for a terrifying walk through a barn and past some horses into a big scary field.

Good news is we went to our own big grass field with friends nearby! I stretched my legs as I sang the song of my people and danced with happiness across my new field of yummies. Miss G gave me a dangly rope to have for the day to make catching me less scary. More good news is at the end of the day she came back with more carrots and our walk wasn’t as scary this time. Then I came back to my stall and got that delicious molasses grain covered in some scrumptious ground flax seed! Once I finished that I dug into my soft grass hay and even hung my head out of the gossip gate to get the feel of this new farm! I made a new friend with blizzy and we shared a few kisses from the isle-way to my stall.

All in all, my first day wasn’t so bad! I look forward to seeing my field friends tomorrow and getting to exercise in the sun again!


The blue halter arrived today. She is very scared; you can see the fear in her eyes. Eyes that for a long time lived in a small stall, allowed daylight just a few moments each day. It will take time to get her to trust again but here is hoping that she has landed in a good place.

I am a racehorse, that’s what the blue halter tells herself.  I go fast!  And she did too, she worked very hard to make everyone see that she was good at her job.  She took to the track so well and loved to run!  Then one day she was told her racing career was over.  She wasn’t sure why she didn’t race any more, I mean all she knew was the track and running. The new humans in her life told her she was going to be a lesson horse. She wasn’t sure exactly what a ‘lesson’ horse was, but the humans told her she’d get to play with other horses and teach tiny humans to ride.  This sounded like a good plan to her!  The blue halter was excited about her new life.

When she arrived at her new barn, she realized it wasn’t much different than the others she’d live at.  There was a lot going on, humans coming and going and even some tiny humans. She hadn’t seen many of those before, but most of them were very nice and they were all excited to meet her.  The tiny humans would walk by and give her a good pet and say hi.  She figured they couldn’t be so bad, and she told herself she’d make a good lesson horse.

The blue halter made a great lesson horse, she learned very quickly how to keep her tiny humans safe.  She was one of the best, even when things were scary, she made sure her tiny charges were safe.  She never went too fast unless asked and learned to do something called jumping.  While jumping wasn’t her favorite thing to do, she always did what was asked of her and made sure that she got praises for doing the right thing.  She didn’t mind the lessons and enjoyed the time she got to hang out with her friends in the pasture eating grass and hay. The tiny humans took great care of her and gave her yummy carrots and apples to eat along with good scratches!  Although she liked to pretend, she didn’t like the scratches but her tiny charges knew she loved them!
The blue halter had a great life at this barn.  The owners were nice to her and made sure she had plenty to eat and a warm stall when it was cold outside.  She got to hang out with her friends and run around when she wasn’t teaching her tiny humans. She even got to roll in the mud from time to time, even though she knew it really annoyed her humans.  She settled into lesson life and watched her tiny humans grow up into great horse men and women.  She watched her friends come and go sometimes they would go to new homes and sometimes they would go on to the pasture in the sky.  While it was sad to see her friends leave, she always knew that her life was a good one.

One day, things started to change she noticed new humans taking care of her and feeding her.  While this wasn’t so unusual – humans seemed to come and go – these new humans weren’t as nice as the others.  They would forget to give her hay sometimes and often her water bucket would be empty or dirty.  They would get mad at her for dipping her hay in the water.  Didn’t they know this was something she always did? The new humans started treating her meanly, when she pretended to be a giraffe they didn’t laugh like the other ones, they would hit her and yell.  She didn’t understand why they were yelling; her other humans would just calmly bring her head back down.

She also started getting less grain and when she tried to tell them they ignored her or worse yelled at her for wanting food.  She didn’t understand why they were so mean to her. Her usual humans stopped coming around and she felt sad.  Her stall didn’t get cleaned and her feet started to hurt.  She wasn’t getting her scratches or snacks and it felt like they just forgot she was there.  When the humans did remember to let her out of her stall, they would yell at her and use a long stick to make her do what they wanted. If she walked too fast, she would get hit, if she walked too slow, she would get hit.  They didn’t seem to understand that her eyes didn’t adjust as quickly as theirs did and they would get angry when she raised her head to see.

She tried to tell the new humans that something was wrong, she’d pin her ears back or stand at the back of her stall, but no one seemed to notice or care. She even tried to talk to them, but they just passed her by.  The blue halter started to feel very sad.  She wasn’t sure why the new humans didn’t like her, but they seemed to have new horses they liked better.  Slowly she stopped teaching her tiny humans, so when she did, she wasn’t as good as before and they would use the long stick to make her go the way they wanted.

One day they put her outside with a donkey.  She didn’t really mind the donkey, but she could tell he was sick.  He didn’t eat the way he should and slowly she started to feel sick as well.  She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wasn’t as hungry as before and her stomach hurt all the time.  She ate less because it hurt to eat. The donkey would make a lot of noise and it scared her, but she put on a brave face. She felt that she had to just make herself not be noticed.  If she wasn’t noticed, then they wouldn’t hit her with the stick.  She started not going outside as much and when they came to take her out, she would stand in the back of her stall and not let them put her halter on.  Slowly they started putting her out less and less.  She was OK with that because she didn’t feel good and didn’t want to be outside with the funny sounding donkey.

The blue halter started getting very skinny and she was always cold. She used to never be cold, they used to tease her and say she was like an oven. She wasn’t sure what that meant but the humans seemed to laugh when they said it, so she agreed.  The blue halter got very sad, she would stand at the back of her stall and watch as people came and went. Most of her friends were now gone and new horses had come. The new horses were mean to her and didn’t talk to her when she called to them.  Her old friends would always call back, she wasn’t sure where her old friends went.

Then one day someone she recognized showed up and asked about her.  She heard them say her name!  She wanted to call to say she was still there, but she was just too tired.  They found her in the field with the donkey and started to speak very quietly to her.  The human told her she was going to go to a better place. They said they were going to rescue her.  She didn’t know that meant but if it meant she got to feel better she thought that sounded good to her.

The next day they showed up with a shiny new blue halter.  They put her on something they called a trailer that looked really scary, but she went with them. They took her to a new barn with stalls that had a soft place for her to lay with plenty of grain and hay.  She didn’t feel like eating still, and her new humans were very worried.  They called in someone that they called a Vet and he was very nice.  He explained to her new humans that she had something called lung worm and a few other things she can’t remember.  He said she would need medicine and that she could no longer be used for jumping but she’d be better.

She was so scared; she would just stand in the back of her stall and if they tried to come near, she would back away. Humans were mean and she was sure these new ones would be just as mean as the others.  She’d pin her ears back at them so they would go away, but they never did. They spoke softly to her and introduced her to new friends. She really liked Blizzy– she was very nice. Blizzy told her that she was a pasture friend.  The blue halter wasn’t sure what that meant but her and Blizzy had so much fun.  The humans laughed when they introduced her to what they called ‘mini’ horses.  The blue halter wasn’t sure why the horse was so small, but they reminded of her the bad place.

Slowly the blue halter got stronger.  She still liked to pretend she was a giraffe but her new humans just laughed at her and put her tack on anyway.  She was being taught Dressage.  It looked like fancy walking to her, but she was really good at it and her new trainer said she’d make a great Dressage Horse. She enjoyed her training and even got to teach some new tiny humans.

She moved to what her new owner Chris called a training barn.  This is where her trainer Olivia was.  Olivia was teaching her to pick up her back. She said she had to strengthen her top line – the blue halter wasn’t sure what that meant but she tried to make sure Olivia was happy.  Olivia was always very nice to her and made her this yummy mash at the end of each day and never yelled at her if she dipped her hay in her water.

She made a new friend named Rayne.  She loved hanging out with Rayne, they would share everything even if Rayne was the boss.  She was still nervous around new people and sometimes she wouldn’t let the humans take her out. They seemed mean – even though they weren’t but they still scared her, so she’d stand at the back of her stall and not let them take her out. But when Olivia showed up, she made sure she went out.  She always talked very softly to her and made sure the blue halter had what she needed.

One day Chris came to visit and said she was going to be part of an adoption event.  The blue halter wasn’t sure what that meant but Chris said maybe she’d find her forever home.  The blue halter didn’t want to hope too much, but she had seen a lot of other horses have what Chris called their ‘very own Human’.  The blue halter wanted that so much, but she was afraid that they might treat her bad or be mean or not feed her.  That would be more than she could handle.

When the adoption even came a family showed up and they told Chris that they were adopting the blue halter.  The blue halter was very afraid, they seemed to be a bit loud and not real sure of what to do.  The new family brushed her and fed her some treats.  They wanted to see how she was under saddle, so Olivia put her saddle on.  She tried to pretend she was a giraffe, but Olivia wouldn’t let her.  She just wanted to go back outside or in her stall, but Olivia said she had to show the new family how good she was at riding.

The new family adopted her and when they showed up the next day, they told her she had her very own human. The blue halter was very scared, I mean what if they were mean or hurt her. So, she acted very bad. She wouldn’t let them put her halter on, and when they tried, she put her head up and did her best giraffe work!  She was very scared and was very unsure of what the new human wanted from her.  She even got away, but she was so scared all she did was back up down the aisle.  She didn’t know why she acted that way, but she was so scared, what if they left her or took her back to the bad place. She liked it where she was and her friends.

Her new human said she was her mom; the blue halter had heard other horses talk about this, but she wasn’t sure what it meant.  Her mom worked with her and praised when she did good and gave her good treats and scratches.  She started to like her and would wait for her to come to visit.  One day her mom told her she was going to move to a new barn.  The blue halter was very scared, but she was learning to trust her mom and hoped that she would make sure she was taken care of. When her human came to put her on the trailer, she did her best to not go, but the new trainer made it hard, so she finally got on.  The ride to the new barn was scary but the blue halter kept telling herself she would be OK.

When she got to her new home a barn called Koppings, the blue halter decided she liked it.  She heard her mom and new trainer say that she was supposed to get lots of hay and grain.  She wondered if her mom would remember her mash, and she did, she even put in apples which were her favorite.

Slowly the blue halter grew to make friends in her new place.  She loves it there and has lots of new friends.  She gets tons of yummy hay and grain and her mom comes every day with mash. They usually ride or go for a walk.  Her mom has promised that she will stay forever with her.  She hopes that’s true because she loves her new family!  She doesn’t give lessons to the tiny humans, but sometimes she thinks they might be a better rider than her mom – but don’t tell her that!

Looking for a fight….

How many times have we gone into a meeting or conversation or even email just knowing it’s going to be a fight to get something done!  zora fight

Yesterday was one of those days where I regret horse ownership all the way!  Zora decided she was taking herself for a walk because why not and then decided that she didn’t like her little brother who we had just moved over.  I was frazzled to say the least and annoyed with her, worried about the other horse getting hurt and being cold and all sorts of new things and frankly was just about done!

So I asked my amazing trainer for a quick lesson because I just knew that the horse was at fault, I mean she was causing me stress so it had to be all her right?? (OK wrong) As leaders we often decide way before anything that things aren’t going to go well.  And frankly I am sure non-leaders do the same thing!  We assume our clients are going to be upset before we even give them a chance! to be upset!  We go in looking for the fight.

So yesterday I saddled up my horse, again knowing it was going to be a fight because I am the human and she is only the horse!  The first words my trainer said to me “you can’t start off assuming there is going to be a fight”… huh? What? You mean she might just be OK? NO that can’t possibly be right! She’s been a brat the entire day…so of course that is going to continue..

Except it didn’t, once I let go of the idea of a fight she was amazing. Doing everything I asked and in a great way!  Now my trainer did offer some insight in case she did give me a fight, but she didn’t.

You see as leaders, when we expect the fight we often get one, so instead of thinking that this is going to be a battle expect it to go well and prepare for the fight. For example, are you delivering something later than expected, maybe it got away from you and you didn’t tell the client it was coming late.  Can you change the time? No you can’t but you can apologize and let it go.  If your client comes back with guns blazing then you can react in the way you thought through.

So often we get ourselves ready for the fight and when it doesn’t come we create it!  We decide on our own that there is going to be a fight and we push buttons either intentionally or not but they get pushed.  Our team and our clients come back swinging and we feel validated that we were ready for the fight!

Instead what if we waited, took that deep breath and decided that there wasn’t going to be a fight.  We can have a battle plan ready but not have to use it! (Interesting concept huh)

This week, take a moment and ask yourself, are you preparing for the battle or are you gearing up for the fight!  Once you realize that you are gearing up for the fight you can start preparing for battle instead!

No I don’t have favorites!!

We’ve all had that one employee that we felt like we were just not clicking with! We’ve also had that one employee where we feel like they are the best.  We connect with them, we feel great leading them, even when they make mistakes we feel great!

Then there is their counterpart.. the one who shows up late, doesn’t listen, seems like they could care less about what we say and do.  We might find ourselves avoiding giving this person feedback or when we do it’s done in a more negative light.  We might push this person in meetings because we just know that they are wrong and we are right!

What if we looked at this differently?  I know I have talked about different styles of people, this includes how people feel appreciated.  You’ve probably heard of love languages but what about appreciation languages? Everyone feels valued differently… some of us want to hear we are doing a good job, or ask if they need help or even be included in projects.  For me, hearing that I am doing a good job in a meaningful way is important for me.  Others want to feel included or asked if they need help.

Instead of thinking that this person isn’t leadable or makes our life difficult what if we thought about how we can lead them differently?  Thinking about what makes them tick, and makes them feel appreciated.

This week think of the one person who just seems to rub you the wrong way, and figure out a way to connect with them.  And here’s a really easy way to do it!  Start by asking them questions about themselves!  It’s easy and I promise you might get some insights!