It’s hurricane season again in Florida. This means that we are dealing with daily thunderstorms, tropical storm surges, and localized flooding. It also means that I spend the season on high alert for sudden shifts in weather, constantly worrying about the state of my horses’ feet as they stand in rain-soaked pastures, with a daily re-evaluation of whether it’s safe to let them graze or keep them on high ground in the open barn. This decision involves balancing the risk of them either abscessing from the wet ground or getting sand colic from being turned out in the sand arena where they spend the day nibbling at weeds around the edges. Sometimes, it feels like a never-ending cycle of soaking and wrapping feet and midnight colic poop watch. Occasionally, I wonder why I choose to live this farm life.

It’s in those moments, when I’m knee deep in flood water, or sleeping in the classroom next to the barn to be closer to the horses during a bout of colic, that I am most aware of how working with horses has shifted my perspective of what it means to be a caretaker of the land and animals in my life. The small shifts in priority over the years as I’ve learned what farm life really means becomes a stark contrast to what I thought I was signing up for! The physical labor required to maintain a farm; the anxiety provoking sight of a horse in distress; the early mornings and late nights scrambling to make sure that all the animals are fed, watered, and predator proofed – all of it on top of the demands of running a small business – is a LOT! No wonder I’m exhausted all the time. But I also know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Visiting us on site at The HERD Institute, particularly for students who are at the beginning stages of their equine facilitated journey, people see the idyllic life of small acreage living where my horses, dogs, cat, and chickens live in peaceful co-existence. There’s a sense of flow in sessions from classroom to pasture, and barn to arena, as we move from one session to the next. Magic happens in the connections made between horses and students and a sense of community and belonging is forged. We focus on the interconnectedness of being in this world and students leave feeling nourished, inspired, and passionate about their work and the journey ahead.

Then, real life strikes and the visions that they hold for what they want to birth into the world seem more distant. Connections made during training seem less tangible. For some, a sense of isolation might creep in that adds to the daunting task ahead. Added to all of this, the uncertainty of what is yet to come during these pandemic times has left many feeling unsure of their next steps.

So, I’m here to tell all of you who are feeling those struggles that you’re not alone. I hear you. I get it. This isn’t a “I’ve been there, and you’ll get through it too” thing, but more of an “I’m in it with you” feeling. For many of us, asking for help is part of the struggle, but what I’ve learned is that it’s a critical step. We all need support. That support doesn’t have to be in the form of practical “fix it” solutions but simply to know that we are not alone. Hearing that someone else is experiencing something similar allows us to sink into acknowledging that what we’re going through is hard, and that we don’t need to tough it out alone.

That’s why, we believe that continued mentoring, supervision, and peer support is so critical for our industry. It can be a lonely and overwhelming journey to manifest a vision, no matter how passionate you are. We need to know that we’re not alone in our struggles and it helps to have those who have walked the path before us to show their humanity too. It’s important to acknowledge that we have not chosen an easy path for ourselves and that what we are doing, creating, building, and nurturing is needed in this world full of uncertainty.

Contact us and let us know what you’re struggling with in your programs right now. Let’s see if we can support each other in community. In this herd, we all belong.

Warmly,

Veronica
Executive Director

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