We can learn a lot from horses; I sure did. Before my wife got me interested in them, I couldn’t even spell hoarse; now I am learning from them while learning about them.
Today’s lesson was learned when Grace, our mare, found her way into the breezeway of the barn. The breezeway is the area where we humans walk when we feed or visit the horses, and also serves as a storage area for horse-related supplies. It runs alongside the two stalls, which are on the left as you walk in. (We get into the stalls from the breezeway, the horses enter and exit through doorways on the opposite side.) The breezeway is full of horsey temptations and dangers, including bags of food, treats, and medications that, if ingested in large quantities could make them seriously ill: think of it as a candy store for horses. A very narrow candy store for horses.
Grace got in there when I carelessly left a gate open that should have been closed. There she was, sniffing away and looking for goodies in a fairly confined space, considering she weighs in at about 1500 pounds.
Uh-oh! She can’t be in there! She could get sick or hurt! What should I do?!? I remembered being told once that when a horse is in a dangerous situation, you must remain calm. After all, what do you think she would have done had I run in there yelling at her? She would have bolted, perhaps further into the breezeway, perhaps towards me trying to get out. Neither option was particularly appealing to me. Getting run over by an upset horse is not my idea of a good time. Who knows what she would have bumped into, broken, stepped on, or . . . ? Causing her to panic could have easily caused 10 times more damage than I was trying to prevent.
So, I stopped to think. I made sure she had a clear route to where I wanted her to go. And then I walked in there and said in a firm, but quiet and somewhat disgusted voice, “Grace! You know you’re not supposed to be in here!” She slowly looked up at me, turned around, and casually walked out with a look that said, “Gee, dad, you’re no fun!” She went where I wanted her to go, I closed the gate behind her, and that was that.
It occurred to me that this was a great lesson for life in general. Things happen all the time that could have very bad consequences if not handled properly. We get a late notice (and late charge) for a payment that is only one day late, we get dissed by someone with untrue gossip, etc. How do we react? If we react emotionally, we could make the problem worse.
Your gut reaction may be to yell at customer service people about, for example, the late charge. What do you think would happen then? Do you think they would be willing to waive the late charge? My guess: no. Stop. Call them back later.
Whatever it is, pause, take a deep breath, and don’t panic. Think it through.
My point is this: if a horse gets into the breezeway of your life, remain calm and carefully consider your options before reacting. The stress you save may be your own.
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Edited by Shannon Koehle