Giving Thanks!

Several years ago, I started the habit of beginning and ending every day thinking of all of the things I was grateful for in my life. Some things take up a big chunk of thought, like Offspring. He does a million adorable things a day that bring an immeasurable amount of joy to my life. Likewise, Darling Husband tops the list along with the entire GHLHF. Also, when I’m having a tough day and things aren’t going the way I want, I try to halt any negative thoughts by thinking of my blessings. For instance if I’m over a messy house and laundry, I remind myself how blessed I am to have a house, have loved ones to mess it up for me, and laundry to frustrate me.

I’ve read several studies that human beings can actually create new neural pathways simply by being mindful of your thoughts. There are studies that thoughts actually have matter and energy that can influence the energy around you without actually acting on the thought. I’m not a physicist and wouldn’t even begin to understand how you could measure such a thing, but the theory is the basis for manifestation beliefs. For anyone thinking that kind of sounds like new age dribble, I say give it a try for thirty days and see if your life isn’t better. If you try it, and it doesn’t work nothing lost, but what if simply being grateful for everything around you attracted more things for you to be grateful about, reduced the stress in your life, or at the very least made you a more pleasant person to be around?

We spent the weekend with some wonderful friends that we don’t get to see very often, and that made me start thinking about gratitude. Only three short days away from Thanksgiving, it felt like the right time for a blog post about it. In the three years since I started writing this blog, I haven’t written a Thanksgiving post, and I think it is long overdue. I couldn’t shake the feeling all weekend, how very blessed I am with great friends, family, and essentially living my dream life. While we would love to expand the GHLHF onto more acreage and have a ton of “wants” for the future, when I stop to think of all my blessings, I know my life is perfect just the way it is. I remember when I dreamed of and prayed for the things I currently have.

First off, my family, that includes the menagerie of critters calling GHLHF home, is healthy and happy. We have everything we “need”, a lot of stuff we don’t, and everything in between. Offspring is blessed to grow up knowing an agriculture lifestyle, complete with the work and dirt that comes with it. I get to relive childhood seeing it through Offspring’s eyes, and I think it just might even be better the second time around. Everything seems magical to a child. There is never time to be bored, because we always have a hundred different projects that need attention at any given time.

Since this is a blog about equestrian adventures, I’ll focus on the equestrian blessings. I’m extremely lucky to have not only one but three full size riding horses that I love. They aren’t perfect by any trainer’s definition or standards, but I actually struggle to decide which one is my favorite. Darling Husband has two pretty nice ones as well. I stay off of his horses, because I don’t need to add the difficulty of choosing between five instead of three. All of our horses/ponies are roans, grulla, or loudly colored Appaloosas with tons of flash and chrome. My “color” horse people feel me on this. Not a single brown horse in the bunch! How awesome is it that I can let all of life’s little worries fade away for an hour or two when I ride out on one of my best friends in loud color?

I’m blessed to know the value of hard work, and the sense of accomplishment from a task well done. Not everyone is blessed to experience the therapeutic value of cleaning stalls, cleaning tack, or grooming horses. Many see the manual labor that goes into the upkeep of our animals but do not realize the strenuous workout, sore muscles, and responsibility for something literally larger than yourself is it’s own reward. Any equestrian can tell you that 20% of stall cleaning is actually cleaning stalls and 80% is thinking over and making major life decisions. I’ve never had a 60 minute gym workout that yielded the same sense of accomplishment as loading, unloading, and stacking 6,000 lbs of square bales in the same amount of time.

For that little girl inside of me, I have five beautiful little ponies, and three of them have proven to be good solid driving ponies, so functional on top of being adorable hay burners. I promise it is impossible to be depressed sitting behind one of these little buggers listening to the clip clop of little hooves on asphalt. Hearing the squeal of delight when people see them trotting around the neighborhood is an added bonus. I’m grateful for the moments I can totally indulge childhood fantasies, playing with ponies, and bringing a smile to the faces of those around me.

I’m blessed to have the knowledge and skills to keep the horses/ponies in work and healthy without having to call a trainer or vet for every single little thing that happens. It has to be a really big thing or something we don’t have the equipment to handle. Thanks to my Dad, I know the basics of good farrier work, and can easily identify issues. I actually do all of my own pony and donkey farrier work. I leave the bigs to a professional farrier, but I know more than enough to identify a good farrier though. Far from a world class trainer, I’m happy with the progress and placings of my animals in competition this year. When the stars align, we find the time to practice, and everyone’s head is in the game, we aren’t half bad with the scores to prove it. I’m blessed to have a career that funds the GHLHF, and allows us to live this lifestyle.

I’m blessed to have the tack and equipment I need to outfit all of the hooligans on the farm. Some of it is custom made for us, some I’ve had since high school, and then other items were purchased sight unseen from Facebook for a pittance. All of it is safe, functional, and fits the animals. Much of it holds more sentimental value than it’s current market value, but the memories from the saddle my grandfather purchased me when I was Offspring’s age or the sleigh bells that are literally a century old are priceless. Oddly enough one of my favorite saddles was the least expensive, purchased used, and took a fair amount of work on my part to clean-up. That all brings me back to my gratitude for knowledge and skills again. I’m blessed to have had mentors impart the knowledge to identify quality items, know how to properly fit, and can make minor repairs/adjustments myself. See once you start thinking about what you are grateful for, you just keep thinking of more things or new reasons to be grateful.

All of our animals started out as starvation or neglect cases. I’m grateful we were able to rescue them and give them a loving home. Sadly we are at capacity on the current property, but we were able to save and keep fifteen animals out of the vicious sale cycle and slaughter pipeline. I’m grateful for the ability to get them out and show case what they are capable of. Hopefully it inspires others to take a chance on other animals in similar situations.

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We’re blessed to be surrounded by great neighbors. The GHLHF would struggle to exist without them, and its comforting to know the people sharing your property line know farm life, know livestock, and care about the welfare of animals as much as we do. They are so much more than friends and neighbors. They are family.

I hope you give the intentional gratitude practice a try. I sincerely believe the GHLHF was manifested into being when I started practicing intentional gratitude years ago. Regardless, Happy Thanksgiving from the GHLHF crew! We wish nothing but blessings for you and yours!

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