Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Shedding Season

Not just for horse hair…

‘Tis the season for shedding. Horse hair, of course. But also a season for shedding stress, pounds, and inches.

Horsefolks, gardeners, and beekeepers are some of the most enthusiastic welcomers of spring. Since I happen to be all three, I absolutely love spring. I enjoy all four seasons, but there’s something magical about springtime, with all the flowers and trees bursting into bloom and the birds singing to the heavens as the sun rises every morning while I’m at the barn. #Bliss

In true mustang fashion, Kaliwohi is blessed with an abundance of hair. He is also a huge fan of mud, and the thicker, the better.

Mud puppy Kiwi. All photos by Sarah Frances Smith.

I can groom this horse “to the nines” and he seems to take special delight and grinding new grime into his coat, every day. So these days, as I help him shed out for another muggy southern summer, it’s a good time to reflect on some other shedding that’s been going on in my life.

Kiwi spa day.

Shedding stress: Being self-employed can be a source of serious stress. The inevitable truth is: you don’t work, you don’t eat; more importantly, if I don’t work, the horses don’t eat, and that just can not happen. There are 86,400 seconds in every 24 hours, and how I invest those seconds determines my business’s success or failure. Every day. No exceptions. I’m not complaining; I’m grateful to have excellent clients and to have a great deal of control over my schedule and my life.

My point, however, is this:  Working for myself for the past eight years has taught me many things, including the cycles a business typically flows through — lean times and times of abundance. During lean times, my default in the past been to worry about finances; when work is abundant, I typically worried about meeting due dates and providing excellent client care for each client while also running a farm and striving to balance the other commitments in my life, such as serving as a volunteer chaplain for the Knoxville Police Department.

I’m a stress eater, so one key piece of my own “healthy/happy/horsey” puzzle is to find alternative ways to shed stress. Anything to do with nature helps: interacting with animals, listening to moving water, or birds singing, or the wind in the trees, or the frogs croaking in the very large mud puddle Kiwi likes to roll in. Movement also helps: riding, hiking, dancing, drumming, yoga — all of it helps me feel more relaxed and maintain a healthy perspective on work, bills, and life in general. Time with friends also helps; even introverts like me need to get out and around other people sometimes. #YayForEclecticCoffeeShops

Shedding pounds: There is something about warmer weather that just helps me eat cleaner. Fewer heavier meals, less comfort food, more salads, fresh fruits and veggies. I recently completed a two-week self-imposed “water only” beverage regime and, I have to say, other than a great mocha when I meet up with friends, I have discovered my evolving body genuinely prefers fresh, pure water over anything else. The weight is not dropping off quickly, but the scale is definitely going in the right direction again.  Hallelujah!

Shedding inches: I have added much more movement to my life in 2019, and the results are beginning to show. My pants are looser, the tape measure shows a shrinking waist (woo hoo!) and I am feeling more healthy and youthful than when I began this journey. I’m amazed, frankly, at how much better I feel these days. Feeling better also helps my over-thinking mind not stress quite so much, which helps me eat better, which helps the scale and tape measure both go in the direction I want. Positive cycle. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Life is never static. We get stronger from using our muscles, or we shed strength as unused muscles slowly atrophy. We get happier from focusing on the positive and reflecting positivity, or we grow increasingly miserable because we focus on the negative. Gratitude is a great antidote for stress — instead of worrying about “what if this client does not pay what they owe me” or “what if I don’t get this work completed by when I promised it to the client” I am learning to give myself a mental half-halt and intentionally shift my thoughts to focus on all my many blessings. I am abundantly blessed with great health, great horses, great friends — so many blessings — and when I choose to focus on those blessings, my stress level drops a little lower, so my desire to eat junk food for a fast dopamine hit drops a little lower. Positive cycle. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

One moment at a time, one day at a time, I am slowly but surely winning my own personal “battle of the bulge” and shedding old mindsets, old habits, and old patterns of worry. #LetItGo

Muzzle nuzzle.


Go Riding!

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