In a rare moment of reflection that is so vital to getting where we are going, I’m thinking back on Square Peg’s busiest summer yet.
We lost our darling Gigi. Not a surprise with her illness, but a change. Square Peg has never existed without that temperamental white mare who humbled me over and over and still delivered for anyone who truly needed her. As a friend said “not all strong women are human.” I miss her.
I’m reflecting on our kids. I was chatting with one boy yesterday after his ride. He was telling me about his dog and about the intelligence difference between dogs and rats and how rats have an extremely good survival instinct. The only thing significant about this exchange is that his summer school believed this boy was either non verbal or selectively mute. Proof that the right environment and a commitment to dignity (plus dogs, goats and amazing horses) draws out natural communication. I’m so grateful for the trust that our families extend to us here at the ranch.
I remember a sunny Saturday afternoon this summer – the staff had taken a gaggle of kids up to the pond and I sat in the arena with their parents. They were quiet and pensive. One mom started to open up “he got kicked out of school again.”
“Tell me what happened this time.” I met her pained eyes sincerely and in the background, we could hear the kids squealing with laughter 200 yards away. She started to tell me the story and then another mother started to laugh. The pained mom was taken aback – it really wasn’t funny she thought. She didn’t know if she needed to consider something drastic like a special boarding school. Then the third mom chimed in “I remember the first time my boy got kicked out of school.” And we all laughed. And we all shared our stories. And all the pain and isolation started to melt away and we realized that none of us were alone and that our kids were all just doing the best they could in a confusing world with some really arbitrary rules. And we laughed some more until our bellies hurt. And it was good.
I can’t say enough about our staff. Growing from just me and a couple of part time help to the thriving pack of smiling, joking, hard working and caring pack of seven we are today is a dream come true. Our staff’s dedication and energy are a constant source of joy for many – me included.
Volunteers are an essential part of what we do. For caring teens to put aside their busy lives to muck stalls, play with kids, walk sick horses and make Square Peg a haven for families and animals that deserve a second chance is nothing short of magic. I’m so grateful and tremendously proud of all of your heroic efforts. You don’t just show up – you bring your “A game” time and again.
Our landowners are rockstars. They trusted us to come into their family property with our herd of animals and boisterous humans. We are a tribe that can be a little hard to take….. With thoughtfulness and care, they have learned to appreciate our unconventional way of doing things. They didn’t have to welcome us into their beautiful and wild family space and I am deeply grateful that they have.
Our supporters responded to our call to help grow the program with trust and generosity that takes my breath away. From the Thoroughbred industry I served for so long to come back to Square Peg with appreciation and support is validation that amazes me. From the $10 donations that come through the internet across the country after the airing of Garvin Thomas’ NBC segment – to the matching grant opportunity from one of our original supporters – the family that wrote a check on the spot after a one hour visit because “your horses are all happy and that tells us what we need to know.” I’m humbled to the soles of my dusty boots.
I have to say something about our horses. Each day, they teach us something important. They teach us all about patience, about the value of innocence and a quiet ego. They teach us about generosity and the debilitating power of fear. They teach us about being and remaining present, about the beauty of play and how to revel in the power of a body in motion.
I was talking with a parent last night who was kindly thanking us for the space we have created for her son to grow and explore. I thought about all of the amazing advisors Darius and I have cultivated over these years and the decisions we made based on their sage examples. Decisions to create a culture and defend it fiercely. Decisions to focus on not just running a barn, but on starting a movement towards a better future and consciously deciding what we would cultivate.
Onward to Fall – a season of change and harvest.
Thank you to our entire community – families who have come and gone, volunteers, supporters, staff and to our pack of animals who teach us everyday. Team Quirky for the win!