Sunday, October 12, 2008


Did You Learn Anything

Have you ever done anything and it didn’t work out the way you thought it would? Then someone says, “Did you learn anything from that?”

In these past 3 years that I had been Operations Manager at Refuge Farms, many of the volunteers will remember me as a storyteller. You have heard both funny and serious stories of me with my family, work, and many with my time with the The Herd. The stories I tell are mostly the ones where I have learned a lesson or two from the experience.

For sure you have heard me share many of the stories, and share many lessons learned from working with the horses here. These special horses and the lives they have lived, have taught me many things over the years. They have share with me some things about their own societies, some things about safety and some things that have helped me to better understand myself.

But one of my favorite stories, and the one that I will remember always about friendship happened the first summer I was a volunteer at Refuge Farms. It was about two weeks before the Open Barn, a fundraiser held at THE FARM, and I was going to spruce up the barn to make it ready for the event. So, in the barn it was me, my extension broom and a ladder by myself. And, yes I was on a mission to clean all the inside walls. Yes, all the walls, and even the walls where the horses could come in and leave at will. Are you there with me yet?

Maybe not, so I will give you more details. So, there I was - brush, brush, brushing the walls and kept moving the ladder until I got to the pen. That is the area in the barn where the horses can come and go at will. All of the sudden I realized, “ Oh!! Here comes one of the horses!” In came Jerry, and man was he big! As I watched him come into the barn, I said to myself, “ Isn’t that cute that he came over and is standing next to me while I am on the ladder?”

Then Big Jimmer came in and walked up to Jerry as if they were talking to each other. Soon Jimmer also came over and stood on the other side of me while I’m still up on the ladder. I kept working and after the walls were all done, and I was standing there now watching all the horses come in to the barn, it hits me what the conversation was that Jerry and Jimmer must have had, “Can you believe this naive person? She could be seriously injured if the other horses would have come in and have bumped into the ladder with her on it?”

What I truly believed then, and still do to this day is that they assessed the situation and saw the potential danger I was in and they said, “Here is the plan…Jimmer you go over and protect her on the right side of the ladder, and I’ll protect her on the left side of the ladder. When will people learn to think safety when they are working?”

It was a great lesson I learned that day and even after both had crossed they were still on each side of me helping get through my day safely. When ever I was working on THE FARM and around the other horses I would feel or hear their guidance and those encouraging words that Jerry and Jimmer drilled into my head “ THINK BEFORE YOU ACT”.

The other thing I learned that day with Jerry and Jimmer was how wise horses are, how big their hearts are and how freely they offer their friendship and protection to us even when we may not realize that is what they are doing. They are amazing friends and have a lot to teach us.

So, did I learn anything that day from my experiences in the barn? Yes, I learned to listen to those who knew best. I think the Horses always know best. What great teachers they are.

See ya!
Kathy M.

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