Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Help from my Friends, Part 1

This last year has been a little crazy, even by my standards. We moved the barn to a winter home, then to our permanent home, then last month Doug and I moved ourselves into the cottage on the farm. Here's a few blogs about it all:

     First, last November. How was the move? Well....
     Then in June, SFD has a New Home
     Then July, What Have you Been up to? Well...

Now that things have settled down a bit, I find my mind wandering dangerously close to sentimental thoughts about SFD’s amazing community. They kept our barn afloat while we navigated some stressful seas. This blog is part one of a thank-you to these wonderful people.  If stress brings out people’s true characters, then this year showed me that SFD is made up of some truly wonderful people.

This summer, at a show, a member of the SFD family had a lousy day. We’ve all had them, those days when nothing goes right, and at a show, it seems even worse. I was standing at an uphill vantage point, and I watched as other members of the SFD community literally surrounded her and gave her a listening ear, words of encouragement, and all the moral support that a good barn is supposed to give. It was an awesome moment for me -- SFD operating as a supportive, nurturing community.  That was my goal when I hung my shingle 6 years ago.  Learning this sport is hard, on both physical and emotional levels, and a community of caring friends that understand makes finding the joy in the journey easier.

Even before that day, I knew that SFD is not about me, it is about everyone. SFD has grown beyond the original 9-stall barn, and beyond the fences of the SFD barn itself.  Every pull-in lesson student, every off-farm location student, is embraced as family when we meet at events.  I find this really, really cool.

This didn’t happen by accident, or as a solo act. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without help, as I am the queen of too-many-ideas-and-not-enough-time.  Two people in particular wandered in when I really needed their help. 

When SFD moved to Red Bridge in 2008, we decided to expand SFD to include student’s horses. Previously, I only took care of horses in training with me.  When Doug and I made the decision to expand, I was worried about two things – was I organized enough to keep everyone informed and the paperwork together, and do I have the personality to keep the barn functioning as a group?

Cheryle has been my solution to the first question. When she came on as a boarder, she filled out her paperwork with such attention to detail, I knew I was in the presence of a much more organized mind than my own.  Offering her the position of “office hero” was a no-brainer. Her constantly cheerful tone and much-better organization skills have gone a long way to keeping everyone informed of going-ons at the barn. Plus she happily keeps our records organized, a skill I, frankly, don’t want to take the time to get good at. She says she enjoys bookkeeping. That just doesn’t seem normal to me…

The second solution came a few months later, in Linda. One big concern I had when I started allowing student-boarders is clicks. To some degree, as a group gets larger, clumping-by-friendships is unavoidable, but I really didn’t want to have SFD divided along the “those who show” and “those who don’t.” Linda’s camera skills help draw the non-competing members into the show stories, and her party-organizing skills really help us gel as barn.  

Additionally, Linda came to dressage as an adult, so she understands the emotional ups-and-downs of the adult beginner, and is down right empathic about helping others through the emotional ropes of learning to ride, and then to show. Her tact and well-timed kind words offset my rather sarcastic communication style.  Plus she can organize all of the details of a show weekend, down to dinner reservations. 

So here’s a big thank-you to you two. I would be lost without you.

No comments:

Post a Comment