Oregon Reflections - Day 4, part 1


Oregon Reflections – Day 4, clinic day 3, part 1

I have decided to split this day into 2 parts because there was so much information that the post became very long!

After a good night’s sleep, we were up bright and early (thank you eastern pacific time zone!) for a nice breakfast at the hotel before meeting Dana at the ranch at 7:30. We talked with some of our new friends, got some hot chocolate, because I don’t do coffee, and enjoyed another awesome time of worship and a message from Troy.

For the first session of the day, we were once again able to learn from TRU Horsemanship founder, Clint Surplus.


Thankfully, although it was pretty chilly, it wasn’t raining so we were able to have some hands on demonstration. Clint worked with Troy’s mare in the round pen demonstrating natural horsemanship techniques and what a “join up” is. Two points, among the endless amazing points, really stood out for me.


The first is that when I graduated from high school, I went to Clemson University with the hopes of meeting and falling in love with a real cowboy. It’s okay, you can laugh at that! Needless to say, I didn’t fall in love with one and the man that I did fall in love with had never ridden a horse before he met me. Not exactly the cowboy of my dreams, however, God knew exactly what he was doing (imagine that!). As I stood at the round pen, watching Clint work with the horse, I was also standing behind Chris watching him intently take in every word. My husband is falling in love with horses and it looks like I may have married a cowboy after all!


The second was the way that Clint framed his communication with horses around communication with God. Let me explain basic horse herd behavior. In their natural habitat, horses live in a hierarchy society with a lead horse (usually a stallion) and a pecking order that goes down from there. When you are a part of the herd, you have the protection and provision of the leader and the group. To become part of the herd and/or to determine your position within the herd (either as an outsider coming in or a young horse growing into adulthood), you have to submit to the rule of the leader. The leader will chase you away until you show the cardinal signs of respect. This is how round pen work is done with a horse. The person stands in the middle and chases the horse away from them by looking directly at the horse’s eye, squaring your shoulders to the horse, and possibly waving a lounge whip behind the hindquarters, waiting for the horse to show the signs of submission and respect. The horse wants to be with you and knows that you will protect them and provide for them (it’s instinctual). Once the horse has shown a turning in of the inside ear, a periodic turn of the face towards you, a lowering of the head, a licking of the lips, and coming off the edge of the round pen in an effort to be near you, you can release the pushing away pressure by moving your eyes off of direct eye contact and turning your shoulder so you’re not squared up towards the horse. The horse will slow to a walk and come towards you. You can then turn your back on the horse and walk away and the horse will continue to follow you. Put yourself in the horse’s position and God in the center. We want to be with Him because we know that he loves us and will take care of us. More often than not, we run around and around, trying to do things on our own when all we have to do is be in God’s will and He will take care of us. Or imagine if you were a person who has been deeply hurt by people or even been the one doing the hurting, left feeling like you are so awful that you are unlovable. You begin to work with this horse; this large, intimidating being that could easily hurt you, and you begin to see that he wants to be with you. That horse puts such a high value on who you are that all he wants to do is be near you. These are only two examples of how horses can bring healing. Imagine how much healing and redemption will come to people in our area once we get going!

After a short break, we had our choice of sessions. One was about hoof care and the other, which we chose to attend, was called, Structured Chaos presented by Kelsey W. It turned out to be a hodge podge of information ranging from the environment, to team management, to ministry movement, to everything in between.

First we discussed the environment of our ranch. Andy Stanley states, “your environment determines what comes to mind when people think about your ministry.” We were told to come up with five descriptive words that would define our ministry. We are still prayerfully considering what those five words will be but we do know that when we have them, they will help create the culture that will permeate every area of our ministry. We talked about expectations in leadership and we were lovingly reminded that the perfect man was able to effectively manage only 12 people, so to not put a ton of pressure on ourselves to manage a lot of people. Key points were to lead by example, think small, and think multiplication. Sounds a little like Jesus, don’t you think?

Then we talked about communication. CPYR has some very interesting ideas that I’m sure we will incorporate into our own ministry. They encourage email, meetings, printed schedules, whiteboards, team leaders, and verbal communication. Some communication is vital to the ministry, such as; continuous vision setting, horse safety, history and plan for clientele, changes in policies and procedures, and event and work schedules. One great example is a whiteboard that is posted by the tack room. It has the name of every session horse on it, the sessions for the day, the session leaders for the day, and a place to put notes on how the horse is doing. For example, after each session, the horse is given a score based on their session so that the next session can be better managed. The next session leader scheduled to partner with that horse can then make a determination, based on the score, as to whether or not that particular horse will be a good fit for their session. A database is also very important. With a good database, you can minister individually to everyone who comes in contact with your ministry and build support.

Next, we talked about training. CPYR has paid staff, volunteers, and interns. They also have extensive training, which includes computer training, session training, and a week-long horse class. Training can be held weekly, monthly, and yearly and materials such as, an employee handbook, training manuals, and notes/guides are utilized. I am very excited about this aspect of our ministry because Chris has a lot of training in, well, training. His job for the last few years at the police department, was in training and hiring, and his job at Love Inc will involve creating a training manual for the volunteer program. Sometimes I see God as a conductor of an orchestra where we are the instruments and the symphony is His glory. He guides us and gives us experiences that we can build on to create His perfect plan for us.

We touched on the importance of handwritten thank you notes (written by the staff AND the clients), praise that is timely, detailed, and in front of other people, and correction that leaves people encouraged. Kelsey commented on the importance of incorporating play into building your ministry staff. Because ministry is very emotionally draining, it is important to build relationships with the staff that do not involve “work”. Things like family game days and cookouts are a great way to build the ministry family. She also mentioned how important it is to learn to delegate, to the right people who have been properly prepared for the tasks.

Scheduling can be very tricky with so many parts. CPYR has found that “true ministry is often found in the unplanned moments.” So they strive to have freedom within boundaries.

Another thing to consider is the flow of movement from the moment your farm comes into view for the client to after they leave their time of ministry. How are they greeted, how do they get to the right leader, how are the chores delegated? See the farm from the client's eyes, it will help you spot areas for improvement.

Many important topics were discussed and it helped me begin to see that there is so much more than having a clean barn! I really like the idea of the whiteboard for session communication and having clients help write thank you notes. In the back of our packets, we each got a thank you note for coming to the clinic. Mine was from two little girls and was absolutely precious!


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Risen Ridge Ministry