Oregon Reflections - Day 3

Day 3 – Clinic day 2

When we arrived in the parking area around 7:45, we were surprised to see that so many people were already there. We decided then that we would meet at 7:30 the next day. We got to the ranch and they had lite breakfast, we mingled and munched for a little while. Around 8:15 Troy led us in a sweet time of worship and shared a message with us. The worship was great and I even learned that you can sing Amazing Grace to all sorts of tunes – lol! The weather that day was decidedly chillier than the day before and overcast with rain in the forecast.

Our first session started at 9:00 in the main arena with their horse trainer, Clint Surplus. He had his gorgeous 8 yr old mare there with him and it was drizzling. He was introduced and gave us a little demonstration of his riding. I appreciated his ability to maneuver his mare without force and while keeping her agreeable to what he was asking her to do. He began to talk to us about TRU Horsemanship, a system that he came up with. TRU stands for trust, respect, and understanding. The rain really started coming down

harder and the decision was made to move the rest of the session inside. Once inside, it REALLY started pouring so everyone was glad we were inside! Troy and Clint have worked together for so many years that together, they were able to give us a rundown of the way that they work with their horses. They emphasized request and release, asking a horse to do something and releasing the pressure as soon as the response comes; rewarding even the slightest try; being consistent; and thinking like a horse, predator vs. prey. They talked about finding suitable horses for your program, having a knowledgeable vet and farrier (no foot, no horse), and what makes a good horse trainer and why it is important to have one.

After a little break, we got settled in for our second session of the day, entitled Our Hands and Feet. It was all about volunteer programming and was led by CPYR HR Coordinator, Kelsey Woodford (who is one hysterically funny woman!). We started with what volunteers are and what they are not. We talked about the importance of clear communication when giving instructions for a task (and what can happen when those instructions are not made clear). Kelsey talked about the ability to share the vision and the load; to make sure that you leave a hole for your volunteers to fill so that they want to come and help. She spoke about conveying the importance of each task so that the volunteers will have an understanding of the impact they are having. CPYR has frequent volunteer orientation where they utilize the time to evaluate each person for future task delegation, lay out crystal clear expectations, and have any necessary paperwork taken care of such as waivers and background checks. State background checks are done on each volunteer and federal background checks are done on people who will be working directly with the children. It is important to follow up with volunteers, maybe even use a survey, so that you get feedback on how your program is viewed by the people who are serving you. One thing that I found very interesting is that CPYR takes very detailed notes on, not only the kids that come for sessions, but on the volunteers as well so that the ranch gets to know them individually and can treat them with great respect and importance. They also hold an annual volunteer dinner to show their appreciation. Volunteer hours are tracked along with the tasks performed so that, when estimating how long a task will take or how many people will be needed, a more accurate assessment can be made and they don’t schedule too many or too few volunteers. Some final points; learn to delegate – there are many ways to do a task, as long as the end result is what you expect, there’s no harm in doing it differently than you would do it; make the tasks fun; take time to play; and treat all volunteers like long-termers. Along with all of this awesome information, CPYR included samples of their volunteer paperwork so we have some framework to work from. It was a super session and Kelsey is a great asset to the ranch!

After our lunch break, we dove right into herd management. I have to confess that, as an experienced horse person, I was thinking that I may not learn very much from this. I’m so glad that I was wrong! Co-founder, Kim Meeder, along with Equine Manager, Jeff Woodford, run a very horse-centered facility. We covered many topics of basic horse care; good vet, good farrier, good fencing, clean up the poop, etc. In my professional horse career, I managed professional equine athletes. Because their physical and mental strain is very different than what we will be dealing with on our farm, their care is also different. I was taken back to the horses of my youth and how we cared for them. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I had all but forgotten. The horses at CPYR and that we will have, won’t have a huge physical fitness demand. The riders will be largely beginners, so the horses will have a lot of mental stress and will have to exercise tremendous patience. To give the horses and staff a time to recoup, the ranch operates from April through October, giving the horses November through February completely off. Kim and Jeff spoke about wild horses and how they live. They encouraged us to make the environment of our horses as close to their natural habitat as possible. Living together as families with large areas to move around and run-in sheds for shelter from the elements. They advised us to feed as close to natural as possible to include grass, fresh water, and minerals. In most areas and with the physical demand required, they don’t even need grain. In the northwest, the ground is very hard and fairly dry making hooves nice and hard and tough. They rarely have any shoes on their herd. I was happily humbled after this session and eager to keep a horse-centered facility of our own.

We moved from this session directly into a session entitled, The Heart and Soul…The Kids, given by Kim Meeder. Kim suggested that kids come to the ranch for many different reasons. Most of which can be broken down into four main groups: Healing, Escape, Love, Play (HELP). The way we can facilitate these needs is to pray, listen, and do. Pray at all times (Ephesians 6:18), talk to God about the child, then listen (Isaiah 55:3), and be ready to do whatever it is God is calling you to do (Mathew 7:24). When we are abiding in Him, we don’t have to worry about making sure we are doing the right thing for each person who comes, God takes care of that part. All we have to do is be obedient. Our “job is to facilitate love and healing in the very best way – that fits the moment – for the specific needs of the child you are working with…and trust the Lord for the rest”. Embrace the differences in the participants, the staff, and the horses. No puzzle will work if all the pieces are exactly the same. Being different makes the body of Christ work together! Help each person see that they are needed, valued, and appreciated. Depression starts with a hyper focus on what you don’t have, so help them see what they do have. Her final thought and encouragement was this, God rarely calls the equipped…He equips the called. “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

We had a short break and began our next session entitled, Bricks and Mortar, a business Q & A, with Troy Meeder and Chris Telfer, CPA. Chris has been working with CPYR since they started with the initial paperwork in 1994. She is Christ-centered, a former Oregon state Senator, and among other things, has loads of experience with non-profits and growing business. She covered so much information that was new to both of us. From board members, to staffing, to budget, and more. One thing that was clarified for us during this session is that we should immediately start the process of becoming a non-profit entity. Because we felt so confident in her ability to guide us with this, we have already retained her services and begun this process. Yay!

The final information session of the day was with Renae Estes, owner and operator of Basin Pacific Insurance dba Oak Springs Insurance. She specializes in the horse industry and is licensed to write business in 28 states. Her session was entitled, Shielding Your Ministry (Weighing the risk and protecting the ministry from a Godly perspective) and was mostly about insurance. What kinds of insurance are applicable for what parts of the ministry. For example, when our board of directors gets more established, we should get directors and officers insurance. I’ll be honest and say that it was a little overwhelming. After all of the information that we had been given thus far in the day, the fact that our bodies were still on east coast time which made it about 8PM, and the fact that we don’t have a physical ministry yet, I sort of tucked this part of the clinic away for when we will need it. Renae gave us great notes and lots of sample forms to help us out.

Before supper, Kim invited us to participate in something CPYR started doing weekly with the staff. They call it Immersion Worship. For 30 minutes, they play Christian music that can be heard almost anywhere on the ranch and you are encouraged to find a spot and simply worship God. Don’t ask him for anything, just worship Him. She encouraged us to feel free to get into whatever physical position we were feeling called to, on our knees, arms raised, however we felt moved. It was beautiful and a little challenging. For the first few minutes, things just flowed, then I found myself starting to pray for other people and had to steer myself back to worship. Kim said that it gets easier the more you do it. I’m prayerfully considering bringing this to one of our weekly prayer and worship nights over the summer.

After we all collected ourselves and wiped away the tears of God’s mercy, it was time for supper. Chris, Dana, and I were all pretty tired so we didn’t mingle too long this night. We were ready for bed!

As I was preparing this post to publish, I realized that sadly, I don't have a lot of pictures from this day. There was so much info and a lot of it was inside, that I just didn't take many on this day. I promise more photos in the rest of the posts from our trip!

Risen Ridge Ministry