You are what you do (most.) The way to achieve excellence is making the right tiny changes and consistently build on them.

I confess. I had a trainer uniform and a judging uniform. They didn’t match my everyday work wardrobe. I trained people wearing crisp jeans, cowboy boots, tucked in shirt, trophy buckle, and cowboy hat. I judged wearing pressed chinos with trophy buckle, boots, button collar with silver button cover, sport coat, and dress cowboy hat.

That isn’t what the horses saw on a daily basis. I wasn’t pretending in my fancier gear, but it wasn’t the private me. Whether it’s a horse maneuver, building project or wardrobe option, I want effective first. It’s gotta work well. If you can make it pretty, fine. But utility (and comfort) always trump bling.

Stewardship is making the most of what you have. The biggies are time, energy, and money. Every day you decide where you’ll pursue excellence and where you’re willing to settle for good enough.

Private Practice Predicts Public Performance

Every great thing rests on a series of tiny things done until they create habit; muscle, spiritual, or obedience habit.

When trouble comes, habit rules the day. Some folks believe they’ll step up in a big crisis, that something held in reserve will miraculously appear. Crises don’t make us better, they reveal our habits.

If someone really important showed up at the barn unannounced, chances are they’ll find the real me. No pressed slacks, no trophy buckle, no hat. They might think I’m the cleaning woman… Thankfully, my husband and horses don’t care much about fashion.

My worth to husband and horses isn’t affected by the details of how I look, but who I am in relationship to them. Both understand and value love, consistency, and commitment. My husband and I both work hard and look it. But at day’s end, we’re clean, comfortable, and blessed.

The real you is who shows up without advance planning or time to put on the costume. For years I wouldn’t answer the door without mascara. Decades with horses broke that habit.

Freedom to be who you are and nothing more is priceless!

After nine months of progressive steps to make 21-year old Q able, I planned to begin loping him under saddle. He’s sound, in good weight, has built muscle tone and done lots of preparation. I thought he was ready to move up a gear.

I was wrong. Nine months of tiny steps isn’t enough. Q isn’t ready to lope. It’s too soon. He’s not strong enough. More tiny steps are needed.

We’ve practiced and conditioned privately for nine months –  but it’s not enough. My goal is excellence. Gait quality is a matter of proper preparation. I could get Q to lope under saddle, resulting in moving backwards a few steps.

We’d be on the wrong journey.

Joy is the journey.

I’ve added new corrective exercises to Q’s lessons. In just three weeks he’s made amazing progress. He’s closer, but not there yet. Still, I’m loving the process and deepening my relationship with Q. Plus I’m adding new tools to my training toolbox.

Trainers specialize in young horses. These elderly ones are new to me, so I’m also learning.

Life is not what you see in the competitive arena.
Life is all the moments leading up to your walk into the show pen.

What happens next depends on how well you’ve prepared and who’s judging.

Preach constantly, without words.

The gospel message clearly comes through those who spend time alone in their prayer closets.

Private practice is planned. Cherished. Valued. Defended.
  • Solitary time with the Holy Spirit, time with Christ, time in the Word.
  • Dedicated time with spouse, children, horses, or friends.
  • Time in your art, music, or great outdoor studio.
  • Time uninterrupted by distraction.
  • Time dedicated to relationship or excellence.

Excellence begins at the bottom.

Leave a hole in a horse’s training and it will come back to bite you at the least opportune moment.

Leave a hole in an important relationship and something dastardly will try to sneak in.

Leave a hole in your walk with Jesus and potholes will grow. Concentrate. Show up. Do the right small things consistently.

Greatness is nothing more than one small thing added to every previous small thing.

What will you choose? It doesn’t matter where you are today, excellence always begins at the bottom. It’s not too late.

How can I help you?

[This post was published originally as the September 2018 newsletter. Want to sign up? Use the box in the right sidebar. Please join us!]

Read more in Discipleship with Horses – Practical Guide to Using Obstacles, Exercises, and Simple Cues to Get the Results You Want (Gospel Series Book 3)