Regarding Eight Belles

Regarding the amazing filly Eight Belles

by Joell Dunlap

I was out on a trail ride with students when the Kentucky Derby ran this year. Upon our return to the ranch, I rushed inside to watch the replay of the race on my computer. Big Brown owned the race from start to finish and showed the world that we may have a true phenom on our hands. No surprise to me who has admired the colt for some time. The real treat was watching the valiant filly Three Belles chase the colt down the stretch as the other horses tired. I emerged from my office to tell my students that Big Brown was “the real deal” and that the only horse to be brave enough to give him chase was a fantastic dark gray filly named Eight Belles. I was gloating as I brushed my own haughty OTTB mare Gigi.

“Um, Joell, I guess you didn’t see after the race” one of the mothers said with veiled eyes. “The filly broke down after the finish and had to be destroyed.”

I couldn’t speak.

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See Jane Ride

To everyone who helped make Saturday happen, my most sincere thank you. For those of you who put up with me all week, I don’t know how you did it.

Here’s photos:

As I sit quietly at the computer, my body is at rest and I’m doing my best with some housekeeping of my brain.

I’m tempted to write a story, an essay something about my recent experience meeting the great, the mighty, the humble and the brilliant Jane Goodall.

It’s what I should do. It’s what my training as a writer tells me to do. It’s a story that could sell, or at least gain attention.

But if I’ve learned one thing in listening to Dr. Goodall, it’s that doing what you are trained to do is not as productive as you might think. It’s not even that creative and it won’t break down the walls of society or the walls in your head. At least, that’s what I heard when I listened to this amazing and accomplished woman. She seems to feel that thinking outside the box is just exactly that. OUTSIDE the box. Where there are no rules, nor are there any boundaries or guarantees.

It’s a wonderful and terrifying and exciting place, this space outside of the box.

So off I go into the void, fumbling towards who knows what. Letting my passion and my curiosity be my guide. What comes out might be brilliant, it might be drivel, but at least it’s mine.

I feel like railing against the education establishment yet again, but it seems misplaced. Somehow, by growing Square Pegs and starting a groundswell movement where children are taking responsibility, cultivating kindness, using creativity and feeling at home in their own bodies, then maybe the next generation is empowered to start solving the problems that we have created. This is my talent, this is my task.

I think this is Dr. Jane’s thinking and it’s what keeps her hopeful in spite of all that she has seen and all that she knows. That the hope is in the children. That adults are not very trainable. That kindness to the animals and our planet inspires the younger generation to become invested in their future.

So, now with a few cobwebs cleared in my murky, aging brain, I now feel like my path is more clear. That I can’t afford to get bogged down with the minutiae of the operation. By the small-mindedness of some people and the way they treat their children or their animals. My job is to care for the animals that are here now and to the best of my ability and to inspire the children to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams, to do what is right.

Thank you Lady Jane.

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Girls and Horses, what’s the connection?

On Trust

Is it trust then that causes you to wrap your tiny hand around the gnarled cotton rope and breathlessly tug as you walk away assuming that 1000 lbs of pure flesh and bone will follow you quietly? Is it delusion? Or arrogance? It doesn’t really matter because the 1000 lbs at the end of the rope is looking at you trustingly as he follows you. No matter who you are, you know that this is amazing.

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Response: Horsemanship, Art or Science?

From Carol Beardon of Poplar Place Stables:

“Horsemanship is an art. It is the art of being able to finesse the horse to willing do what you ask him/her to do. It is an art to think like a horse, and therefore understand them.”

GiveMeaning interview with eHub…

There are a lot of people doing interesting and creative things on the internet related to philanthropy, and this is just another wonderful example. On Emily Chang – eHub Interviews, Emily talks with Tom Williams, the creator of GiveMeaning. Wonderful stuff. Just read it!

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Maybe it’s OK that not everyone loves the Square Peg name…

I’ve had many reactions to the Square Peg logo and name. Lots of folks like it and are intrigued by the idea. Somie even think it’s brilliant! but we do get some other responses. Several people have HATED the circle logo with the word “Square”. One non-profit professional told me, completely seriously, “We recommend that non-profits name themselves something related to what they do”.

So today I have some vindication for those responses that sometimes worry us. In the article Maybe you should be attracting enemies, on Donor Power Blog, Jeff Brooks talks about the value of stirring things up.  I’m going to put some thought into this in the coming weeks. Beyond our name, how can we really distinguish ourselves and set ourselves apart? What really makes us “us”. What is it that’s interesting enough about what we do to make some people dislike it?

Thoughts? Please let me know!

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