Not By My Strength

Dear Friend,
dhl planeAs I sat at Wendy’s today and was finishing my snack, I looked out the window and saw an ABX plane flying by. It was a yellow one that had been specially painted by DHL back when they were based in Wilmington. It had been awhile since I have seen one flying overhead and a feeling of sadness passed over me as I realized that an era had passed. That was a time when Mike and I had moved to Wilmington from our home state of Oregon full of excitement and hope. DHL had just become a major part of ABX and Mike had a great schedule and salary, and things seemed to be secure. However, a few years after we moved here things started to change. The shift began to happen just as we were beginning to take the steps to make Stillwater Stables a nonprofit. DHL announced that they had decided that multiple layoffs were coming and they would be moving out of Wilmington. This was in 2008.

Fast tract to now and Mike is currently working out of Japan and is gone 2 to 3 weeks at a time with a much lower salary then we used to have through ABX. Things do not feel secure and have been less than optimal. It is a miracle though that we are still here in Wilmington and that Stillwater stables is still thriving.

As I reflect on all that has changed a verse comes to mind, “not by your strength but by my spirit says the Lord.”

treadmillThis past year I have come to the end of my strength. I have been exhausted as I have been striving to adjust to the fact that Mike works overseas and that a job back at ABX has become a faded memory, and I have felt like it’s all up to me to make everything work. In the midst of this, I realize we are still here. The job in Japan is the only job he applied to that allowed us to stay here. It’s also the only job that I can’t move to where it is based out of so he could be home more.

Without Mike here as much, I have gone through a lot of emotions and have felt like I cannot oversee 18 acres or run Stillwater Stables without him here as much. But today I realized that it’s not about my strength but by His spirit. Through Him the impossible is possible once we run out of our strength and have no choice but to say, “Ok God, it’s up to you.”

By His spirit lives are changed. By His might hope is given. By His grace we are still here able to share His love and His greatness.

By stepping aside to rest and reset and offering what little I have left to God, I see that He is free to open doors and change lives. He is free to show me direction that I would never have otherwise seen. He is free to make Stillwater Stables be all He would like it to be.

That’s how we are still here. Others have stepped forward and helped in areas that we have had need. By stepping aside it has become about we and not I. It has become about Him not me. I’m finding it’s not trying harder but letting go and challenging God to meet the needs through others.

If you’re feeling weary and at the end of your rope try stepping aside, rest, reset and let God take it. And be prepared for things to happen you never thought possible.

happy-new-year-clip_artHere’s to 2016 and letting God lead the way.

Connie signature

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Choosing Life

Since moving to Ohio I have made friends who work with Standardbreds and they keep telling me they are the best horse breed ever. The description from each of them is always the same, sweet, willing, kind, steady and reliable. After meeting one or two I decided to go on a quest to find one for Stillwater Stables. I have been looking at Standardbreds for about 1 ½ years and for one reason or another each horse I met was just not the right one to come. But the more I went to look at them the more I was convinced that we needed one as part of our team.

Through a friend I got the number of a lady who rescues Standardbreds and Saddlebreds from the kill pen and she had just rescued a Standardbred named Major Boomer. I called the lady and she said that she had just gotten him in and was not sure if he would be the right fit for us because she did not know him very well but said she had another one named Med that she thought would be a good fit.

So on February 28th I went to meet Med to see if he would be a good fit for us. He was kind, beautiful and looked to be of amazing care and health. She had rescued him a year and a half ago and she had done a great job with his recovery as you could not tell that he had been neglected and abused. But there was no connection between us no matter how much I wanted there to be one, so she decided to let me meet Boomer.

First time I met him.

First time I met him.

Boomer was standing in the cross ties, and when I approached to put my hand on his neck he placed his muzzle on my cheek and ever so gently began to nuzzle me. There was an instant connection from which he told me he was supposed to come home with me. When his current owner who had rescued him took off his blanket, the sight of how prominent his ribs stood out and the extent his hips protruded brought tears to my eyes. In addition to that, I was deeply moved because here I was looking at a horse who had been thrown away as trash, been neglected, mistreated and starved yet he was still choosing life. He had been mistreated by humans yet showed no hesitation to still love and trust them. I knew at that point he belonged at our program.

At Stillwater Stables many of our teens struggle daily to choose life. Many of them have been through situations that have left them hurting, struggling, depressed, bitter, suicidal, questioning and dead inside. It is easy for others to assume that “teens are fine,” or ask, “What could they possibly be going through?” Sometimes people judge that “They just need to just get over it” or that, “junior high/high school are the best times of their lives.” And while it is impossible for me to show how emaciated a teen is on the inside, the damage done by others to Boomer was out in the open and fully exposed. I could see the correlation to how broken and damaged many of our teens are. If we could get a snapshot of what a teen looks like on the inside as they struggle on a daily basis to choose life, to trust others, to believe in themselves and to understand that life is worth living, well, I reckon it would look a lot like our Boomer.

Yet while it is obvious that Boomer has had neglect, it is equally obvious that he has not given up on life. He is choosing life and it permeates from him instantly to those he comes into contact with him, encouraging them to choose life as well. He is willing to give people a second chance, and the love he has to offer is contagious. I left that day inspired and excited to bring my new partner back to the stables.

Day he arrived at Stillwaters

Day he arrived at Stillwaters

On March 7, his owner delivered Boomer to us along with a month’s worth of hay and grain. She was excited about Boomer’s new purpose and being a part of healing the lives of kids through the horse she had rescued. Boomer arrived excited for the new adventure. Some of our teens were here to greet him and he immediately showered them with love and infused them with hope.

Due to his past, Boomer requires some extra help with vitamins and vet care that will also give you an opportunity to join with us to bring healing to this amazing horse and to the teens who will be caring for him and who become part of our program this upcoming season. Below are some ways that you can help meet the needs of Major Boomer.

                                      Horse Guard Weight Gain
This product is a multi-vitamin supplement that has added pro-biotics to help with digestion and ingredients to help with weight gain. The cost is $2.00 a day including shipping and will last for 80 days. This will not be something he will need to be on permanently – it’s just to aid in getting his weight up and to ensure we do not upset his stomach as we change his diet and add more food and supplements. After we get his weight to where it should be then he will be on just a regularHorse Guard supplement.

                             Teeth Floated and Sheath Cleaned
Horse’s teeth are continually growing so it is important to have their teeth “floated” on a regular basis. Floating the teeth is performed by our equine veterinarian (Dr Bryan McNabb) who uses an electronic tool with different attachments to file and shape the teeth. It is important to maintain the teeth because it will ensure that there are no sharp points as well as uneven growth that would prevent Boomer from eating easily and comfortably. When teeth get sharp and uneven it is difficult for them to eat well and affects digestion. We can add more food and supplements but if he is struggling to chew effectively it will do us no good. He currently takes a long time to eat his meal and appears to struggle at chewing.
A male horse’s “sheath” can get blocked with stones that cause difficulty with urination. It is important to clean them once a year to ensure no blockage. No one knows the last time that he got either of these procedures done so we would like to have that taken care of very soon. The cost is $219.00.

                                                          Grain
Boomer is currently on Dumor Senior grain, which comes in a 50 lb bag and can be purchased for $13.99 per bag. If you like, you can go to Tractor Supply to purchase and schedule a time with Connie to drop it off at the farm and get a chance to meet our rescue hero. Or you can send us the money by check, credit card, or PayPal and tell us how many bags you would like to purchase.

                                                    Spring Shots
Spring shots are important to keep Boomer protected against the different diseases that horses are susceptible to. In the spring we vaccinate for Flu/Rhino/East/West/Tet/WN (which is all given as one shot) and costs $70.00. The other vaccine we give is for Potomac Horse Fever ($24.00) and Strangles ($22.00). You can donate for the shot of your choice or pay the full total for all of them at $116.00.

                                                           Hay
Boomer is a big boy and will be eating a lot of groceries. He is getting a mix of first cutting and second cutting hay and we will be increasing the amount he gets each week. He is currently getting 20 pounds a day total of hay and we will be increasing that to 25 pounds next week. Our bales are approximately 60 pounds each so he will be going through about 3 bales a week. The cost will be $6.00 a bale since we are using both first and second cutting.

Daniel and Boomer meet

Daniel and Boomer meet

This is just a few of the things he is in need of. You can also send a general donation specified for Boomer that we can use for other things as well or designate it to one of the areas above. All donations over $25 will receive a photo card “Thank You” from Boomer and then another photo card in 3 months from now so you can follow his improvements as you participate in his rescue and recovery. All donations are tax deductible.

 

Thank you for joining with us to bring a new life and purpose to Boomer and in turn changing the lives of all who come in contact with him.
gabbys hand

For His Kids and Horses!

 

 

Connie Patrick
Executive Director/Founder
Stillwater Stables
937-383-97793

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Small Business Mentality

room 9The Tack Trunk is a small business in Lebanon, Ohio that has been there for years, and over the past 10 years it has come to mean a lot to me. Whenever I walk into the front door I’m usually greeted by the resident cat or dog and become immersed in the aroma of leather from boots, saddles, and bridles along with new riding clothes and just the overall Tack Trunk vibe. No matter how long my husband Mike has been away on a work trip, or how stressful the nonprofit has been, as soon as I walk into the Tack Trunk the stress melts away and all seems right in the world. The staff always greets me with a smile and ask how I am doing and genuinely listen. They feel sad that Mike has been gone, or they understand the pain of a horse we had to put down, or the struggles I have faced with the nonprofit. Katie, Leann and Mary are always willing to help find what I need and to work within my budget and are extremely knowledgeable. I always feel like an individual as they try to help my specific needs. I feel like this is more than just an establishment wanting my money but a place where I have friends, support and a shared comradery with horses and helping our kids at Stillwater Stables.

Yesterday, after lunch with one of our board members in room 15Lebanon, I went over to the Tack Trunk to buy some salt blocks. But when I walked in the usual vibe was not there nor was there the normal waft of leather and new clothes. I went back to where the salt blocks should be and could not find them. In fact many of the shelves were empty and over half of the merchandise was missing. After returning to the front of the store to find out if they had any salt blocks I noticed that Leann and another staff member looked really sad. I finally asked what was going on and they told me the store was closing; internet buying and another corporation moving into the area had created some hardships for this iconic store in historic Lebanon. I was deeply saddened and felt that a huge part of my support system and team that helps keep me going with Stillwater Stables was all of a sudden being taken away from me.

It has become so difficult for small businesses to stay open and offer the personal service and care like the Tack Trunk has been offering for years. In today’s world it would seem that the internet and corporations are the path of the future. And while this can bring positive things such as a wider selection of product, competitive prices and being able to get a product quickly it can also have the downside of creating a world of isolationism and disconnectedness. We are rapidly losing the personal side out of business where relationships and sharing life together is so important.

1077At Stillwater Stables we see each child and teen as an individual and we strive to bring the personal touch into their life. We take the time to listen, to laugh and cry together and to be a constant source of encouragement and hope. We share life together through the good times and the very difficult times. Our common love of horses provides the opportunity to save lives and to bring us together as a family. Kids count on us to be there for them like a lighthouse in the storm for a ship at sea. They know they have a place no matter what life throws at them that they will be accepted, loved and listened too. They know they have a support team that wants the best for them.

And just as a small business needs the support of their community to stay open, Stillwater Stables needs local support from you as well. Without the support of each of you we would not be able to offer this specialized environment in Clinton County.

Thus we are beginning our yearly fundraiser to bring awareness to our program and to raise money for our 2015 season. We will be having a celebration of horses, children and life at our banquet on April 16, 2015 which will be held at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington Ohio. There are several ways you can be involved to be part of our team and to ensure that we can continue our work in Clinton County.

• By sponsoring a table at our banquet. We have several levels of sponsorship for individuals or businesses available starting at $300 with various perks of advertising for businesses. Our banquet will have 8 tables with seating of 10. We have 6 tables available for sponsorship.
• By attending our banquet to find out more about our amazing work in Wilmington and hear from our key note speaker Tory Watters and how horses saved her life as a teenager. Several of our students will be sharing as well how Stillwater Stables has saved their lives.
• By mailing in a donation to support our banquet fundraiser. No donation is too small.
• By donating an item for the silent auction.
• By volunteering in areas we have available or donate some time sharing your skill such as grant writing, excavating, and marketing as examples.

013Through getting involved with Stillwater Stables you are saying yes to the importance of the individual, that relationships matter, and that “life is a gift and what our youth do with it matters! (Rob Bell)” Change in our culture is inevitable and often times necessary, but we can still keep the feel of the small business alive through supporting and being a part of our nonprofit Stillwater Stables where unconditional love is genuine, hope is found and heaven on earth experienced.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and please message (connie@stillwater-stables.org) or call me ( 937-383-7793) with any questions, thoughts or comments. I would love to hear from you. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the youth in our community.

For His Kids

Connie Patrick

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Meet our Key Note Speaker Tory Watters

Tory Watters photo croppedWe are excited to announce Tory Watters as our keynote speaker for our 3rd annual Stillwater Stables fundraising banquet. Tory currently lives in Indian Hills, Ohio with her two sons, ages 14 and 16. Tory has lived in Ohio her entire life and has been riding horses since the age of 2.

At the young age of 14, Tory was diagnosed with a brain tumor which required surgery. And though she made an amazing recovery afterwards the surgery left her legally blind. Being left with a vision that only saw shadows brought a very big challenge to an active teenager whose primary love was to ride. She was left with the choice to give up, or to persevere and begin the journey of relearning things that had been so natural to her when she could see. The doctor’s advice to give up riding was devastating to her; but one day, with her arms wrapped around her pony in tears, her mother realized that for her daughter to truly be alive again Tory had to get back in the saddle.

Tory’s story is one of courage, faith, trust and a will to never give up no matter how difficult things can be, and has an amazing sense of humor and a determination that is inspiring. She will be sharing from her life experiences how horses give her hope, life and a feeling of freedom that nothing else has been able to do. After relearning how to ride again, Tory went on to become an incredible nationally accredited rider with amazing balance and feel. The picture above was taken at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show riding her beloved horse Eye Remember Rio, in the 3 foot to 3 foot 3 inches Adult Hunter classic class which she took 1st place in.

From choosing life and to never giving up, Tory has made the impossible possible in her life. She could have easily made excuses for why she couldn’t do things but instead she used that energy to find ways of making it happen. Come and be inspired on how amazing horses are in their ability to save lives!

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Lost in Hope

Dear Friends,
It is with great appreciation that I sit down today and write to each of you as our 2014 season is coming to a close and the holidays are upon us. I want to start by thanking you for being such a valued part of our team at Stillwater Stables. Without you, saving lives through horses would not be possible.

The Christmas season is a reminder of hope; a reminder that something greater than us is at work. It reminds us that we as an individual are important, and love is the greatest gift of all. Jesus came to restore relationships with each of us as an individual, to bring us hope, and to show us that there is something greater at work than we often realize. He brings awareness to each of us that heaven is here, it is near, and can be seen and experienced not someday in the future but now, today.

Sadly, in our day-to-day living and stress, the horrors that happen all around us can easily cause this to get lost. Sickness, death, betrayal, terrorism, poverty, hunger, abuse, and sorrow often becomes all that is noticed and when that is the only thing we see and experience it is easy to give up and lose hope. With the loss of hope comes the inability to choose life or see that heaven is around us every day even in the midst of the difficult times that we encounter.

Stillwater Stables is built on hope. We are also about the individual and restoring trust, which in turn restores relationships. Feeling isolated and alone brings us to a point of desperation and hopelessness. Feelings of “No one will understand” or “No one else has been through what I have” or “What is the point?” causes a loss of purpose and a loss of seeing that there is anything greater than what they see in front of them.

Our horses are crucial in our ability to help restore trust and hope. The horses e236nable us to let each child and teen that comes here have the opportunity to discover that they are an individual and to experience the love and grace of God. They really are my co partners in this mission as they allow us to reach our kids in ways that are unique; with children who otherwise may have slipped through the cracks in life.

I have so many stories I would love to share with you, but they would fill many pages and make this letter way too long. I will, however, share one very life changing moment for a particular teen as an example of many other life changing moments that have happened throughout this past year. This moment and others like it surely would not have been possible without each of you doing your part. Be it following us on our fan page, reading this blog, giving encouragement,  prayers , volunteering or financial support they each are important.

One of our teen students has been coming out for a while has been through a lot of difficult things. She’s had so many situations out of her control that has brought so much pain and trauma. Recently, on top of everything else she’s been through, someone she cared about a great deal unexpectedly died which just devastated her. She has felt that she can never catch a break and that her fate is ultimately just pain and darkness. Life has become robotic and about day-to-day survival, while hope has become something she often can’t see.

One day this teen and I were in the round pen with her favorite horse (ironically named) Hope. It had been a particularly hard day for her and I was not sure how Hope and I were going to be able thand croppedo infuse her with life. As her hand touched Hope’s neck, though, she let out a sigh and a big breath followed. Life was penetrating through the wall that had been put up to endure the day. The problem with walls though, is that they may protect some of the pain from coming in and help us cope in the short term, but in the process it becomes a stifling, confining, isolating dungeon that sucks the breath and life right out of a person. I decided to have her work with the horse on some ground work exercises. With a 14 foot lead line attached to the halter, our teen had Hope move off at a walk onto a circle to the right. The more the teen breathed, the more relaxed the horse got and the quality of Hope’s walk became steady and fluid. Our teen then asked her to trot, and more relaxation became evident; Hope again became fluid, steady and even had a little lift to each step to the point where it looked like she was prancing. The teen giggled, which seemed to encourage Hope to prance even higher, causing her trot to become even more elegant. As she exclaimed how beautiful the mare looked she broke out into a big smile. Our teen had become lost in the moment of beauty and majesty. She had been pulled into something greater than herself and her life.

I urged her to ask Hope to canter, and when she did Hope picked up an adorable canter and our teen began to walk in order to allow for the circle to get larger. The teen was grinning at the ease in which she had transitioned into this gait, but Hope kept watching her and gradually began to increase the speed of the canter. As the speed increased, our teen had to switch from a walk to a jog and in the change her body became even more relaxed as she started to laugh. Hope took that as the sign to increase her speed which also caused our teen to have to break into a very fast jog to allow the circle to continue at the larger size. Hope was grinning from ear to ear with an eye on the teen, and our teen was laughing and running and breathing deeply. The connection between the two was undeniable. The teen had become lost in “Hope!” For that moment in time, Hope had drawn her into a different time and space, causing her to experience pure joy and a moment that was free from the pain she had been suffering from. It was like God was using Hope to reach deep into her soul and show her that she was not forgotten, to hang in there and to experience life…..to experience heaven here in that round pen. The round pen was no longer just a round pen with rails and sand footing. It had become holy….God was there and Hope was making that truth a reality by infusing hope and life into this teen who is so loved by Him.

You have joined with us to make this experience, as well as others like it possible. You decided that the life of a teen was worth saving, and as we have partnered together walls have fallen and hope has been seen and experienced that otherwise would have been missed. A God, who in this day is so often forgotten and misrepresented, is able to be present in a pure and raw form to create the opportunity for miracles to happen. Bringing back the essence of why Jesus came….

Merry Christmas!
Connie Patrick
Executive Director
937-383-7793

 

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New Beginnings

                       hope fence  June 2014            

One day in May, I spent some time in the round pen with our newest horse Hope. She has been with us since December and her rehabilitation has been going nicely. Stillwater Stables is not only about giving children and teens the opportunity to build relationships and find purpose but the same opportunity is given to our horses that come to be part of our team. Many of our horses have been rescued in one way or another.

Hope has had a tough life and has had people in her past who have not known how to meet the needs that any horse requires. The right balance of food and vitamins, proper vet care and proper boundaries and guidance on how to be a safe horse around others and the opportunity to reach her full potential.

I have been doing ground work with horses for 16 years using many training techniques from John Lyons and Clinton Anderson. Ground work is the foundation for helping a horse to become respectful of humans and the opportunity to build trust as well. Ground work also enables the horse to gain confidence and to be able to reach their full potential.

Hope has some baggage that she came with from her past. A few of round pen saddlethe behaviors packed in her suitcase can be dangerous that started to emerge in April as she began to feel better and was back into daily work. We have spent some time working in the round pen to begin the process of respect and relationship with this little mare. Trust is a bit of an issue and she has been used to getting away with a few dangerous behaviors. Round penning has been going well so now we have begun putting a saddle on her and adding saddle work with ground training to her routine.

With a saddle and rider back on her it has triggered automatic responses that she has learned over the years such as stopping and not going forward, going backwards, resisting to flexing to the bit, pulling on the reins, going sideways and even kicking and nipping. These habits are what she has been doing for years but something we had not seen here until recently.

As I began to work with her on the line she became confused and bossy. She wanted nothing of it so she reacted with hysterical running. When that did not work she attempted to run me over. This resulted in needing to tap her a bit more assertively then I would have liked. I had no choice because she was paying no attention to me and had lost all sight of boundaries or using her thinking side of her brain. Tapping with a “Thinking Stick” is no different than a horse kicking at another horse to get out of their space. It’s an extension of my arm so I can stay out of harm’s way yet be able to communicate clearly to a horse that is being dangerous. Here was our new mare that is in her 20’s reacting blindly with fear and aggression to a simple exercise that should have been no big deal.

What made me so sad yesterday in the round pen with her? I have worked in the round pen and have ground trained multiple horses but none have made me feel the way I felt with Hope. I was sad because I realized this horse was behaving the way she was from being around inexperienced, ignorant or incompetent people who allowed her to become this way. She had learned this from her experiences with other humans who did not guide her to be safe and respectful in the horse-human relationship. She was responding from what she had learned from her environment. Hope is a very intelligent mare who learns very quickly and I felt sad that her potential and been wasted all these years.
stretching at walkBut Hope has shown me that it is never too late for change. It is never too late to become better or to rise above a situation and be something different. Witnessing Hopes progress has been inspiring teens who have been watching and those involved with her re training. Yesterday, May 31 Hope showed off a stretchy, relaxed walk with a teen riding her. The tension, stress, fear and  aggression we had been witnessing in Hope had been replaced with a look of confidence, trust and partnership. After weeks of rebuilding this mare’s distorted foundation she was emerging with a new foundation that trusted humans and realizing she did not have to fight anymore.

A new beginning can happen today, it is never too late to change a thought, a feeling, a direction or sometimes a way of life. It is NEVER too late to find our purpose and reach a potential we never thought possible. Thank you for being a part of Stillwater Stables, making new beginnings, relationships and purpose possible for our youth and our horses. <3
For His Kids (and Horses)

Connie Patrick
Executive Director
Stillwater Stables
937-383-7793

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Relationships, Leadership, Purpose

April 17, 2fence014

Yesterday was an incredible day getting back into the routine of training horses with some of our teens. It was a nice change of pace after all the cold, wet and snowy weather we have endured this winter. The horses seemed to be eager to get back into the routine of exercising and for the season to begin. They miss their students and look forward to reconnecting with them and meeting new ones.

I want to share with you a breathtaking moment in time that happened yesterday. Change in a horse or a person happens by one baby step at a time which turns into a series of baby steps. After a course of time, the baby steps, with their ups and downs, can be looked back upon and progress and growth can be seen.

Yesterday was that sort of day for one particular teen where the baby steps taken during the past year and four months came together and shined. It was that moment when all the pain, suffering, hard work and never giving up was worth every step to get to this point.

One of our 16 year old teens came to Stillwater Stables December 2012 at a particularly dark time in her life. She had lost hope. She was being swallowed up by the darkness of depression and living had become a day to day struggle. She had made several attempts on her life in 2012 because the situations in her life had become unbearable.

In March 2013 Miss Jay came to our program and the two of them instantly bonded. Actually, they had bonded before Jay even came to our program. The owners were contemplating donating Miss Jay to Stillwater Stables so I took our teen over to meet them. I had a feeling that she was going to be a perfect match with Miss Jay. When we arrived to the owner’s facility, they drove us out to the field where Miss Jay was hanging out with other horses. Our teen got out of the car and walked up to the fence to get a better look at Miss Jay. In a matter of minutes Miss Jay left the other horses and walked straight up to where our teen was standing. At this moment I was in the car with the owners and I heard them both exclaim at the same time “She never does that!” They saw the bond that had instantly formed between this lonely quarter horse and this broken teen and decided at that moment to donate her to us.

Miss Jay had not been ridden much at this time in her life, so when she arrived we began getting her back into shape and teaching her the language that we use to communicate with horses. Through the process, our teen never gave up and she worked on her own issues as much as Miss Jay worked on hers.
longe line 3 croppedYesterday it all came together while Miss Jay was being a bit grumpy, resistant and wanted to go fast on the longe line. She tried repeatedly to convince our teen that she did not need to listen to her requests in hopes she would give up.

As I watched from the fence, I saw our teen being the perfect image of poise, patience and persistence. She never got angry or frustrated and did not try to rush the process. She would let Miss Jay know when the response was incorrect then would make her request again letting Miss Jay decide the answer. This went on for about 30 minutes.

I saw a teen with incredible confidence. I saw a teen who had built an authentic relationship with Jay this past year. I saw a teen who had felt she could not change her own life let alone someone else’s, demonstrate amazing leadership skills. I saw a teen that thought there was no reason to live embrace life and purpose as she guided Miss Jay to do what she asked.

By the end of their time in the round pen Jay was walking and trotting both directions consistently and following our teens lead and direction. They then went into the arena and had a relaxing ride. I asked our teen how she felt the ride went and she said…“It was great! Miss Jay was really listening and responding to ME!.”

Relationship, Leadership and Purpose are our 3 core values. It was beautiful to see them manifested to this level within this horse and riders time together.

Thank you for your love, prayers and support. Because of you this horse- rider pair was able to be matched and their lives changed forever.

For His Kidsmarch 2014

Connie Patrick
Stillwater Stables
Executive Director
937-383-7793

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I’ll Risk It

It is January 1st, the first day of the New Year 2014. I woke up this morning reflecting on my life since July 2005 when Mike and I moved to Wilmington, Ohio. The first words that came to mind were I’ll Risk It. In 2005 Mike was employed with Airborne Express and DHL had just purchased the company. We were living at the time on 4 acres in Molalla, Oregon and had a small riding business that provided riding lessons for children and teens. Our facility  included a 9 stall barn, hay storage and a beautiful indoor arena. Ever since Mike and I had gotten married (1986) and moved from Oregon for Mikes military job our goal was to get back to Oregon by the mountains, the rivers, the beaches, our hometown.

So here we were, living our dream back in Oregon. But with Mike employed in Wilmington, Ohio, Mike was commuting constantly and was gone a lot. We decided in 2005 that we were tired of the commuting and it seemed that we were feeling we were being directed to move to Ohio. Yes that’s right, leave our home town again and this time leaving teens who were like family and a riding facility that was complete with an indoor arena. We would be starting over again. At the time Airborne had been struggling some but DHL had swooped in and purchased the company. It was still unsure what the future held for ABX but we realized it was time for us to move to Ohio and decided to “Risk It”. Our property somehow sold in 24 hours and the next thing I knew we were off to Ohio with 2 cats, a dog and 3 horses.

The property we purchased in Ohio did not have anything remotely resembling a riding facility except for the acreage. We had to build everything from scratch once again so we put up fencing for pastures and built a barn and an outdoor arena. By 2008 we decided we would go non-profit and we went to a training seminar in Bend, Oregon. On completion of that we felt confirmed that we were going to go non-profit and came back to Ohio to be greeted by the news that DHL was pulling out of ABX and a layoff was coming. We were faced with another decision do we continue with what we were so sure we were supposed to do or do we cut and run. We decided to “Risk it” and see where it would take us. The next 1 ½ years Mike was laid off yet we were able to operate.

Mike ended up getting a call back to work for ATI (a sister company to ABX) in July 2010 which was considerable less pay but it was a job and benefits. This came after we had invested a huge amount of our savings into some build outs to make our facility operations easier. Again, we were faced with the question do we continue or do we end. We again decided to “Risk it” for another season.

December of 2012 Mike was laid off from ATI. Again we were faced with the question Do we stay or do we leave. We decided to stay this time in spite of savings being less than ever and seriously no extra money to help the non-profit if necessary. We had our first banquet in 2013 and raised $17,000 towards the 2013 season. We were amazed and once again stayed open for another year. August of 2013 Mike got called back at ATI just as our savings was completely depleted. Then, the week before Christmas we received another layoff notice just before we were to bring in another horse into our program. We decided once again to “Risk it”. Yesterday, which was December 31, Mike got the call that his furlough was cancelled.

Up to the point of when Mike and I decided to move to Ohio we had been financially secure. We were comfortable in the fact that Mike had a great paying job in the military and then with ABX and were able to pay for all our needs and a very good retirement plan for the future. When we went non-profit that stability and living in the box mentality crumbled into dust. Everything we had decided in our life prior to this had been based on the fact that we did not have to worry about finances or how we would pay for things.

It seems in life that we are given crossroads where we are faced with choices. One choice is usually more comfortable and the other is generally one that would take us out of our comfort zone. When the choice is taken that takes us out of the comfort zone then we can come out of the box of ordinary and into the orbit of unordinary. In that land of unordinary all of a sudden God becomes bigger than we ever imagined and more real than ever thought possible. Things happen and you realize that there is so much more going on..so much more then you thought possible. It lets you know that there is more then what we see here and now…that there really is a heaven that can be experienced now and change is possible.

In spite of all the challenges of layoffs and lack of financial security we are still here. Our bills have been paid not only for our own personal needs but for the non-profit as well. As we kick off the New Year today we have down in our barn a total of 7 horses and our next banquet planning is underway. We have been able to provide a place of rest, peace and hope to many children and teens who call Stillwater Stables home. We have had teens allow us to walk with them as they have shared their deepest fears, struggles and weaknesses. We have seen a dimension at work that we never would have seen if we were still living in our comfort zone in Oregon, with a secure job and salary and of course what I miss the most, the indoor arena. Outside the box is scary, it can be outright bloody and stressful but when you have made the plunge, and you survive, not only does your own character change and grow but the lives you are around change as well. With that, it becomes ever more real that God is near, that He cares and that He loves. The things that are important to him become important to you such as loving yourself and others.

So this New Years if you have made a resolution to grow as a person, take new risks, or make a difference in someone else’s life I encourage you to “risk it”and take that step. If you are looking for a place to get involved with, please consider joining our team at Stillwater Stables. We have many volunteer opportunities available and I guarantee your life will never be the same!

Happy New Year!!!!

Connie and Finder aka “I’ll Risk It”

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More Than Just a Horse

I have been  reading a book by Rob Bell called “Sex God” and want to share a clip from what I read. It is a recount from Colonel Gonin’s stay at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp:

“It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we wanted, we were screaming for hundreds, and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the postmortem table and clutched in her had was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.” (pg 30)

These woman had experienced hell. A concentration camp where they were treated as cattle, food was scarce, living conditions were treacherous and their humanity had been sucked right out of them. Upon their rescue, items were still scarce but they had shelter, food was coming in and they were safe. Yet something inside had died. Could that something have been hope? Individuality? Passion?

Many of our children and teens today experience hell on earth. We often assume that a child is fine because they have a roof over their head and food on the table. But what has happened within those walls?

Maybe a father, who should be the one person they can trust, has sexually abused them both physically and then exploited them through photos.

Maybe a child who has witnessed their father being arrested and taken to prison for a long time, then upon release deals with constant fighting between the two parents long after the divorce and is caught in the middle of it.

Maybe a child who has watched her mom die and has the same disease that her mom did and is living in daily fear that she might die the same way her mom did?

Yes, children and teens today experience hell in their daily lives and often feel there is no way out. It can feel like no one will listen, no one believes them and that there is no one to trust. Children and teens acting out are frequently lumped into “they will out grow this,” or “how tough is it really to be a teen? Just wait until you are an adult”, or “just get over it.” Often times when children and teens are talked about it is “us” and “them” without realizing that it is really “we.”

Their pain is real, the darkness they experience is real, and often they  can feel like there is no way out. They can feel that they are alone and that no one cares. Hope is lost and they teeter on the brink of being swallowed by the dark abyss. Is what they feel really any different than the ladies in the concentration camp?

The ladies were in a situation out of their control; they had lost their humanity, their individuality and hope. Children are often in negative situations that are out of their control, leaving them feeling powerless and hopeless and feeling less than human.

Red lipstick, accidentally shipped to the rescue camp, lifted spirits and brought hope as nothing else could.  It reminded them they were important and that they were an individual. That small tube of color infused new life into them “and made the difference between heaven and hell.” (pg 30)

Horses do the same thing with our kids reaching down to their soul, going past the scars, the pain, the walls,the blackness and lets them know that they are important, they are an individual and their pain is understood…that life is OK…they can rise above their circumstances and that in spite of the hell they have been immersed in, heaven is real and it is near.

“Because sometimes, the difference between heaven and hell may be a bit of lipstick” – or for our kids, time spent with a horse.

The examples I gave of children in crisis are based on true stories of those who have found hope through our horses. Please take the time to watch the video  at this link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/310807/x/2349828 to get a glimpse of souls being touched and walls being broken (or, simply go to www.indiegogo.com, type in “Stillwater Stables” in the search window and then click on the link to “Where the Healing Begins”). The teen who put this video and campaign together has been changed from being a part of our program. Please consider donating even $5.00. With your help we can pay off this vet bill and ensure that the children who depend on our horses will continue to be able to do so for the season of 2013. Thank you so much for joining with us!

Thank you for being a part of our team.

For His Kids,

Connie Patrick

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Making A Difference Comes With a Price

May 2012

Dear Stillwater Friends,

This past week we have been blessed with Matt, a senior in high school who is spending the next couple weeks volunteering as part of his senior project at our program doing whatever we need to have done. He has a huge heart to help other people and a wealth of knowledge and experience with horses. This Saturday he rode our new horse Teddy for a tune up. Teddy loves it here and is feeling more energetic and full of life. Teddy has a powerful canter and has been having fun lately showing it off to the students. So a dancing lesson it was for Teddy with Matt.

Matt is a very gifted rider and has been riding since he was 7. He has trained with some top dressage trainers including time in Florida with George Williams. He has won multiple awards with his horse Moonlight and has competed at the exclusive young riders competition in Kentucky placing 4th in 4th level out of 40 of the top young riders from the US and Mexico.

Watching Matt work with Teddy reminded me why I had loved dressage and had taken lessons in it for so many years. Matt has a solid core and a sitting trot and canter seat that I always hoped to achieve. He made every movement seem effortless and he became part of the horse.

My dream was always to ride upper level dressage and to do well in competition. In 2003 for my birthday, Mike bought me a young Dutch Warmblood prospect who was 9 months old at the time. His name was Wow and he had blue eyes, a white face, white socks and was chestnut. He had a “look at me attitude” that screamed confidence. His dad was winning multiple championships in his division in dressage on the west coast and I felt that young Wow was my ticket to winning in the future. I felt that by winning at higher levels of dressage then others would take me serious in my knowledge and that then I could have a higher impact on the lives of others.

In 2005 we moved to Ohio and we left behind my students, reputation and indoor arena. We brought 3 horses with us one of them was Wow.  We built our barn and outdoor arena at our new place. I started giving lessons as a business and taking dressage lessons from a local barn.  Wow was 2 at the time we moved here so I was taking lessons with a different horse. After being here almost a year Wow’s feet began to fall apart, all four to be exact. That was devastating since it was time for him to begin his under saddle work.  At the same time my back became injured which forced me to take time off from teaching and riding. During this time, Mike and I decided we would like to become a non-profit so that regardless of income, children in our community could have the opportunity to work with horses. As I started to feel better, Mike and I began taking the steps to turn our business into a non-profit. During this process Mike was laid off in 2009 from ABX for 1 and ½ yrs .

Wow had a lot of energy and if it was not being channeled into work, he took it out on the volunteers who were helping and our vet and shoer. His feet were now 100% fine and it was time for him to be in training for what he was bred to do…dressage. He needed to be worked 6 days a week which I did not have the time or the finances for us to get into training with a trainer. In addition, my back was still recovering so physically I was not ready either.

So, in 2010, I made the tough decision of selling Wow. It was a difficult choice for at this point he was 7 years old. I had him for a long time and had been hanging on to this dream for over 10 years. It is scary to walk away from a dream when it seems time too and to me, it seemed like I had failed not reaching what I had set out to do. It turned out that the right owner came along and purchased Wow and he is currently using him for what he was bred to do. That helped the pain some, but I was left with a huge hole to fill.

Let me fast forward now to May 2012 . It is 2 years later and I want to share what the hole has been filled with. The hole has been filled with miracles that I have been a part of with students in our program such as:

  • A teen with ADD was able to slow her brain down and think through the steps to mount and dismount the saddle on our saddle stand. She was able to continue this for 20 minutes and applied it while she was leading Teddy and for when she mounted and dismounted the saddle while it was on him.
  • A teen that is typically very shy and has a very hard time expressing herself and her feelings started taking a risk and began making the steps to talking and sharing with me.
  • A teen that has been choosing dark choices and was about to be swallowed by it chose life. She has begun to realize that absolutes do exist and has started naming what those are in her life.
  • We have a young girl who has suffered epileptic seizures and has scarring in her brain who has begun to speak with more words and ask questions during her rides on Cheeto. This week was her third visit and there has been an increase and strength in her fine motor skills and gross motor skills.
  • A teen who lost her mom 2 years ago to cancer also has the same disease has lost sight in one eye due to an inoperable tumor pressing on the optic. The disease also affects her balance and coordination.  As I watched her jogging alongside Cheeto in the arena this week I saw a smile of a renewed confidence and an increase of strength in her stamina, coordination and strength.
  • Still another teen this week was faced with a very big choice whether she was going to follow peer pressure or follow her own convictions.  She found strength in our horse Teddy and the support team she has surrounded herself with her at the stables to make the best choice and stick with it.

Walking away from a dream and the way I thought something needed to look was a choice I had to make. I had to choose that I would follow God’s purpose for me and to let it look how He wanted to rather than how I thought it should look. I had to let go of my plans and allow God to fill the hole that was left when I sold Wow and it had felt like my dream had ended. With His power now I watch as He uses horses to change lives in a way that I never dreamed possible. I realize the change in others is not about me and my accomplishments at all but being allowed to be used as a vessel making available the environment we have with the horses and giving a specific message to each that God wants to hear. If I had hung on to Wow, Stillwater Stables would not be where it is now and I would not have continued to grow into the person I am today. Looking back now, it was worth the sacrifice.

Here I am, changing lives one stride at a time, making a difference in a way I never thought possible. I have grown as a person and realize that it’s not about the ribbons or awards but pursuing after the purpose I was created for that brings change.  Letting go is the hardest thing to do but God promises to fill it with so much more. He promises to fill it with life and an opportunity to experience more of heaven on earth.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for our program and for making changing lives through horses a reality in Clinton County!

For His Kids

Connie Patrick

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