As we embark on the New Year, I want to remind you that dreams and goals can be realized. So I wanted to share with you my story in hopes that it will inspired you to follow your dreams in 2011 no matter how hard it seems.
Even before I quit my teaching job six years ago to pursue my dream I had a vision of where this adventure was going a long, long time ago. The dream actually started when I was a very tiny girl with my first pony Ginger. My Dad believed in me and told me over and over I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed him. This is the beginning of any dream, believing you can do it!
The dream started to take a deeper root after college while teaching in a little one room school in the middle of the Sand hills near Whitman, NE. I found a new reason for living besides my own selfish ways through the happy faces of eight little cowboys and cowgirls. The sweet kids in that school didn't have much financially; in fact most would call it poverty, for some lived without electricity, or indoor plumbing. One little boy came to school smelling so bad I would take his clothes over to my trailer during recess to wash them, and give him some of mine to wear. He brought pork fat sandwiches for lunch, so I bought him Ramen Noodles and apples for lunch and gave him free guitar lessons after school. This little boy and the other kids really changed how I looked at life and caused me to think about whom I was and what I had. I rode horses with them after school and these kids were my only friends at this time in my life and they blessed me. One of the little brothers, only four years old could ride better than most adults I knew. My Dad had taught me to believe in myself but these kids taught me about believing in others.
Before moving to MT I had a great opportunity to work at Howard Pitzer Ranch near Ericson NE. It was like a dream job. I was handed a groomed saddled horse that a cowboy had ridden once or twice and was told to get them going. I learned a few more pieces of the puzzle that I needed to know by watching Gary Putman, Howard's professional trainer at the other end of the arena. We rarely talked but I observed everything he did carefully. I thought I had arrived and I put myself up on a pedestal. But about the time one thinks this the rug seems to get pulled out from under them. Before my pride got out of hand I set out on a new adventure which was more like a wandering in the wilderness. Searching for what I thought I wanted but more importantly finding what I needed.
After the move to MT my dreams seemed to be put on hold while I was being trained for the things I would need to understand and experience in order for the dream to take shape. I worked for a reining trainer where I learned how little I really knew. But his ways were rough and cruel and it just didn't feel right. I felt alone at this time on my horsemanship journey like nobody really understood me. I knew I was missing a very big piece of the puzzle, but I wasn't sure what it was, where to get it, or even how to receive it. One of the things I have learned about dreams is that once you think you know where it is and how to get it you still have to learn how to receive it. I also experienced some painful losses during this time which gave me more compassion towards others.
Through more unforeseen circumstance I moved to TX and then to NV. My precious horses were left behind in MT while I lived in TX for about six months, then a year later I finally brought them back to me in NV. I was further away from the dream than I had ever been, and I thought I would never see the dream fulfilled. Yet in my heart I held on to it, without any indication of how it could come about, or if it ever would. Nothing seemed to be working the way I wanted it too. Little did I know at the time that the trials I was experiencing were the very thing I needed to develop the maturity I would need in order to handle even a little piece of the dream. During these troubled times I learned about leaning on others and my horse for strength and true friendship rather than using him for my pleasure and desire to be better than others in a competition. I humbly learned that I didn't have to have the purple ribbon or acceptance and praise of others in order to be a winner. I didn't compete at all during these years, but I spent countless hours with my best friend, Slick (a very troubled horse, who now as I look back was a perfect mirror of me at this time).
The dark times were about to come to a close. The doors began to open in WY where the dream was being reborn again in the sunshine of the Wind River mountains, and it would be even better than I ever dreamed possible. It is there that I finally learned what I didn't know. I found the missing pieces and what to do with them. I received them with much gratitude. During this time I met the Parelli's several of their instructors, Brian Newbert, and some other natural horsemen and women who inspired me, taught me, and helped me realize that there was so much more to my dream.
I also learned in order to have the dream I must give up my old self and ways. I thought I had already done that back at the little one room school in the sand hills. However, I was wrong. Change is a long and sometimes grueling process. It rarely happens miraculously over night. It would take nearly twenty years for me to truly take what was planted in my heart the fall of 1983 in that little one room school and begin to see the fruit of it. Through those years the soil was toiled deep with a painful sharp plow. Weeds were plucked out of me which often tore my heart, but the scares of the tear were always washed and healed with cool, clean, living water. I did not let a root of bitterness grow in me, instead I held on to my dream, never giving up. On New Years Eve of 1998 I wrote on a little piece of paper, that by the time I am 50 years old I will be sharing my passion for horses and life with others in a full time way.
Upon moving back to NE I felt like I was finally home again, but the time still wasn't just right. So I waited patiently for a couple of more years, trying to be faithful to my work even though my heart was now deeper in the dream that it had ever been. Well, maybe I wasn't totally patient, I whined and moaned a lot more than I should have. I felt depressed and like a failure. It was a very big leap of faith when I quit my teaching job at 46 years old. Four years before the age on my piece of paper. It was a very small beginning. I trained a few horses, did a few clinics, sometimes there was only two people at them, but I gave them my all. And sometimes I still only have a couple of people at an event, but that matters not to me. What matters is I am living my dream of sharing my passion for horses and life with others.
Every year for the last six years Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship LLC has grown and evolved, and so have I. I know this growth and evolution will continue, as I stay flexible and open to new things and change. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way and learned from them. I will make a few more, but I am not afraid of the mistakes I may make as I continue forward. I will learn from them too, and keep living the dream.
I am very excited about the new camp formats for this year, because I feel they are really the next step in the evolution of sharing my passion for life and horses. I really look at this passion as a ministry to uplift others and help them overcome their obstacles and live their dreams. Whether it is their horsemanship dreams, the dream of being more confident, starting a new business, writing a book, getting in better shape, living in joy and peace, it matters not to me. I will do my best to be a means of not only giving you information but inspiring your transformation. So if you have a dream deep within you don't give up, and if you don't have one then I ask you to step a little out of your comfort zone and let one develop in your heart, because they do come true with desire, perseverance, and diligence. I am living proof of it.
Happy New Year