Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Patience 2

It is interesting seeing other people's perspectives on patience. I do not believe it is something people truly "strive" for.  In this world of "instant gratification" striving for patience seems a bit my opinion... kinda like "military intelligence".  I believe patience can be both a gift for some of the youngsters among us as well as a lesson learned through love and pain for some of us that are not so young.

Patience, like strength, is also one of those things you never pray for. Because God will give you the opportunity to be both patient and strong. In this rehab center after having my knees replaced, I'm beginning to think that someone out there is praying for not just strength and patience for me, but humility as well...and God is listening and answering.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


This much-coveted skill can be a difficult one to achieve, but is immensely helpful, particularly when working with horses and/or children. They both do stuff they know they shouldn't, they both test people, and it doesn't do too much good to actually yell at either one. A quick "Don't do that!" is ok, but I know for a fact that a monolog of yelling doesn't work. It has never worked when a horse gets me worked up and I "launch" on him, and I know as a kid being yelled at never got the message through my thick skull any better. How each person keeps their cool in a situation is different, and how each person gains patience is different. Normally this is where the writer would go into some really neat and awesome personal story on either how patience has worked in their favor, or more preferably how they gained said patience, but my "How I got some Patience" story can be boiled down to a sentence. I figured out being impatient didn't make things go faster or better, and that it was a waste of energy. There is no good in working yourself up over how you shouldn't have to wait this long for whatever it is. It doesn't feel good to be steaming and fuming. What does feel good is after you've faced a situation and had patience, knowing that because of your focus and determination you handled yourself in a manner that you are proud of. That's when patience pays off. Not in the moment you decide to take a deep breath and deal. It's when you are proud of yourself based on a decision that you have made.

-Felecia West

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


You should always remember who you are, whose you are and where you came from. I believe this should apply to organizations too.

I like to think that there is always a "method to my madness".  The reason we as a team went to visit Windridge as our first yearly "field trip" is that they are an integral part of who we are, whose we are and where we came from. The foundation of Shadow Ranch itself was built with the knowledge, compassion and advise received from the souls that make up Windridge.

Nestled in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas is a place that I refer to as the Disneyland of therapeutic riding centers: Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center of East Texas. Over 20 years ago, Margo and Bruce Dewkett founded Windridge. They started with 6 horses and a handful of riders. Now they have over 20 horses and over 100 riders each week. They have struggled and sacrificed shedding blood, sweat and tears for an organization, an industry and a passionate calling that drives them: helping individuals dealing with disabilities.

When the dream of Shadow Ranch became a goal, I knew that we needed guidance to ensure we created an organization with a firm foundation. I grew up in Texarkana and had seen Runnin WJ start up. I met Patricia, it's founder and asked if she could give us advice on starting up our place. She gave us the best advice that she ever to Margo.

Margo took me under her wing not only as a future instructor, but as an Executive Director and a founder. She gave me insight to all the different hats I would have to wear and struggles we would have to go through within each. She made sure that I knew how difficult a road it would be while at the same time how much true joy and fulfillment there would be ... step by step. She and her crew drilled into me the safety standards of the industry and the horror stories that could come if they are not used. Margo instilled in me the need to be vigilant in taking care of the little things so that they do not become big things.

To this day, I am not sure Margo and her crew know how much that 9 months I spent with them meant to not just me as an individual, founder and Executive Director but to Shadow Ranch as an organization.

Margo, Bruce, Dawn, Julia, Kim, Sarah, Debbie, Charlynn, Chris, Val, Ms. Francis and all the rest of the Windridge family, thank you.

Shadow Ranch is not Windridge, nor do we strive to be Windridge. We are our own unique family. But, bottom line? If it had not been for Windridge, there would be no Shadow Ranch.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Standing Tall: Why Posture matters

  We see a lot of kids, teenagers, and adults with poor posture these days. Maybe it was always like this, maybe it wasn't. I haven't been around long enough to know. What I do know is that posture is important for many reasons and that's why it's today's topic.

First impressions: These are something you can never get a re-do of, that's why it's called a first impression. How an individual presents themselves the first time they meet someone is what forms that immediate opinion of their personality, abilities, work ethic, and confidence level. While there are many aspects of presenting yourself, one very important one is posture. If someone has their shoulders slumped or they are slouching, they are conveying to those around them that they are tired and/or insecure about themselves. On the other hand, if you are standing tall with your shoulders back and looking where you are going, you appear alert, focused and confident, which leads us into our next reason to sit up tall.

Posture affects your mood: While your mood often affects how you carry yourself, changing your posture can also alter your mood. Have you ever noticed how slouching can increase that bad mood you just can't shake off? There's your reason.

It's good for your body: Whether you slouch or excessively curve your lower back, poor posture all around puts additional stress on your back and eventually takes its toll. To preserve the amazing creation that is your body, sitting up straight can go a long way to keeping you healthy.

     How does this tie into horseback riding? How a person carries themself on the ground normally follows them onto the horses back, and it's often more noticeable than in daily life because of the added movement of the horse. Learning proper posture on the horse and being made aware of how good and bad posture feels is one of our many goals in therapeutic riding to make our students lives better. I've noticed in myself how good posture habits have been learned on the horse and followed me even when my feet are on the ground.