Archive for June, 2012

Riding out the Storm

Monday, June 25th, 2012

As I write this, we’re in the middle of Tropical Storm Debby. We’ve already had 9 inches of rain in two days and the end is not in sight. The skies are grey, the wind is whistling through the trees as boughs bend and branches are falling from the weight of wet moss. The ground is soggy and we can no longer use the golf cart to feed without getting stuck. There is a small lake at the back of the property that wasn’t there yesterday and the swamp is overflowing. The frogs are singing loudly while the birds are hiding in their nests. I’m sure an alligator or two will wander through our property looking for a bigger pond. The bands of rain keep sweeping through with a steady downpour. The weather channel tells me there is a tornado warning and that this will last another few days. Flooding is everywhere and the thunder is deafening. We’re thankful our home and barns are high and dry. We’re thankful the pastures drain nicely so the horse’s feet stay healthy. We’re thankful the storm doesn’t have hurricane winds.

When the first rain starts falling, depending on the personality of each horse, they have several reactions. Sasha starts rearing, bucking and energetically showing her dislike of the elements. Then once she settles down and realizes she isn’t going to stop the rain with her antics, she runs to the shelter. In the next pasture, Rose throws a few kicks and bucks while Chief calmly walks to the shelter and stays inside until it stops. Rose follows shortly and they huddle together in friendship. Hollywood gets down and rolls, trying to dry himself as quickly as the rain falls. Justice, Patch, Ares and Athena continue grazing as though the storm around them cannot touch them.

When the storms hit our ranch here in Central Florida, we “hunker down and ride them out.” We’ve found it is a waste of time to rant, rave, scream, get angry or otherwise complain and waste our precious energy, trying to show our dislike of the unchangeable situations. After all, what can we really do about the weather. And if we’re honest with ourselves, what can we really do about the storms of life. The disappointments, tragedies, lost chances, broken dreams, ended relationships, financial ruin and many more all envelope us at various stages of our lives. These are the trials and tribulations that Jesus talks about in the Bible. Things that happen that could very well destroy us, if we don’t learn how to deal with them.

Since horses have a very high level of emotional intelligence (a high EQ), meaning they’ve learned how to keep their emotions level and calm, let’s look at what they do, and see what we can learn from the herd…

1. Sasha threw a fit at first then ran to the shelter while the storm raged. These are the drama queens. Every time there is trouble, we scream, cry, blame everyone else for our troubles, get angry and generally carry on at emotional levels that far exceed the trouble. Eventually we get to the point of realizing that the past is over and we must pick ourselves up and carry on. By the time we get to this point however, we’re exhausted, stressed and have generally made everyone else exhausted and stressed. We’ve destroyed our own joy and the joy of everyone around us. As we go to our “shelter” to ride out the storm, we’re depressed and looking to medicate our pain. We try drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating or hiding to overcome our pain at whatever ‘storm’ has invaded our lives. Our health suffers. Disease attacks our bodies and our strength is weakened. But Sasha rebelled for only a few minutes before running for shelter. How long do we stay in the storm, tossing every which way before we finally realize that we need to seek the shelter of the MOST HIGH GOD…see Psalm 91. Unfortunately, some of us never grab hold of the joy that can be found in Jesus and the freedom He offers.

2. Chief calmly walks to the shelter but Rose, like Sasha, throws a few kicks at first then follows Chief to shelter. It’s interesting to watch this pair as Chief ignores Rose’s antics and leads the way to shelter. On her own Rose would continue to stress for awhile but with the steady influence of Chief, she settles and follows his calm leadership. In families and relationships, many times we need the guiding influence of a steadier person to help us ride out our storms. Accepting help can be a difficult thing for many people for many reasons. They may feel unworthy of help. They may have too much pride to accept help. But sometimes they’ve simply never had someone offer them help and don’t really understand how to accept it. Many people don’t understand that a helping hand is a blessing from God. It is the answer to their prayer. Rose trusted Chief enough to know he would not lead her astray. When you have confidence in the person offering you help…let them bless you and in offering a helping hand, they will in return be blessed. It won’t change the trouble, but it will give you comfort during those darker days.

3. Hollywood rolls trying to dry himself and minimize the effects of the storm. While Hollywood tries to dry himself, he is looking to evade the storm. He tries and tries to dispel the discomfort and cover up the situation. He races around the pasture trying to outrun the storm, until finally, it is too much and he knows that isn’t the solution. Many times we also try to minimize the damage of the trials in our lives. We hide the problems we are facing and put on a happy face all the while hurting inside while we carry the burden ourselves. But while the storm is raging around us, there is damage to everyone involved. While we hide our true situation, families are hurt by the lack of truth, our own health suffers in living a lie and frequently any others who are involved are hurt worse than if we were right up front in the beginning. In the end, the darkness comes to light while the storm still rages outwardly. How many of us rage against God, blaming him for our troubles instead of seeking him in repentance, knowing that He is right there beside us waiting for us to come back to Him.

4. Justice, Patch, Ares & Athena calmly graze while the rain pounds down and the water rises up. These four horses (my EAL herd) show the deep sense of peace that comes from knowing their creator is in charge. Although the other horses take a little longer to remember the truth that these four have already conquered, this wise herd faces their trials by calmly engaging in their everyday routines. They turn their hindquarters to the storm, as the relentless rain continues to drench them, secure in their knowledge that after the storm the sun will shine again. The wisest of us have learned to go through the storm while hanging onto our peace. We have learned to turn our butt’s to the trouble and pray in faith and wait in peace for the storm to pass. In knowing Christ as our savior, we are able to meditate on His many promises as our boat starts to sink…knowing that He is with us. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. We must learn to recognize which storms have come upon us because of our bad choices and which ones surround us because God is allowing our trouble in order to build our character to become more like Christ. And sometimes He allows the problems in our lives so we will return to Him in repentance…it is a loving form of discipline to believers. No matter what the reason for our trouble, we can rise above our emotions and, with wisdom, trust God.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

In knowing that God is always with us and loves us we can rest in His presence as the wind blows and the rain falls around us. When we have built our house on the foundation of Christ, we know that each problem is a chance for us to grow our character into the image of Christ. We know that He is ultimately in control and we are able to put on “a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair” Isaiah 61:-3. “And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. Let us remember that this is a NARROW promise. It is only for those ‘who love him, who have been called.’ This promise is for children of Christ, for those who have been born again. For without Him, there is no hope. If you don’t know Christ but would like some spiritual coaching, please call for a session. If you are ready to give your life to Christ, please contact us to pray with you. Then find a Christ centered church to attend and begin your new life.

So sisters and brothers in Christ, the next time we face a situation that causes us to feel despair, sorrow or anger, let us not forget who is ultimately in charge. The next time we feel we won’t survive the storm, let’s remember these words of comfort from our Creator. Let’s get control of those thoughts that rule our emotions. Let’s remember He holds each of our lives in His hands and if He is allowing us to go through a trial, it is only to lovingly help us grow into better human beings; to seek Him, to honor Him and to worship Him….for that is the reason He created us! The sun will shine tomorrow!


My Story

Monday, June 25th, 2012

What my horses taught me …


By Trish Andros Carlo….”dedicated to the little girl in every woman who always wanted a horse or her own…”


Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
– Psalm 37:4


As a child I was timid and shy and scared of being with people. At school I had few friends and was the brunt of many jokes. At a time when most kids were thin, I was the fattest child in the school. I couldn’t do sports because my co-ordination was terrible, I really couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Everyone would laugh when I tried to run a relay race because I was miles behind the rest of the class. So I studied and read and became an honor student in of all my courses but that made them bully me more, because I was the ‘browner’, the teacher’s pet. My teenage crushes went unnoticed by boys who only looked at the prettiest girls. So I ate more cakes and cookies to make up for my unhappiness and I hid from people.

Trish & Moonshadow 1974

At the age of fourteen, my life changed. I found a friend who accepted me just the way I was. He didn’t care what I looked like, how fast I could run or how smart I was. He was kind and gentle and gave me his undivided attention. He was tall and golden with a white mane and tail. His name was Moonshadow and he was my first horse. I would spend hours with him each day after school, brushing his silky coat and talking to him about everything that was important to a teenager. When I climbed into the saddle, we became one with each other. As we galloped over the green hills of Canada with the roar of the wind in my hair and the thunder of his pounding hooves, I could feel his strength and his power with each stride. Nothing could stop us, we were flying. We were free.

Over the next few years, we spent every possible moment together. Our communication was completely without words. When I rode him, he would respond to my thoughts before I asked him with my legs. I understood him, and he understood me. It was like we were connected in mind, body and spirit. We spent many hours in the sunshine amongst the birds and the trees either riding for hours over the trails or with me just sitting on the ground reading a book while Moonshadow grazed beside me. His calm, rhythmic munching was a comfort to my soul. There was nothing I couldn’t tell him. He was eager to hear my every secret and story. He would nudge me when I cried and play with me when I laughed. He was truly my best friend.

The lessons Moonshadow taught me would stay with me for a lifetime. He taught me how to conquer my fears as we sailed over four foot jumps. He taught me how to be confident each time we entered the show ring. He taught me how to celebrate when we won our first blue ribbon. He taught me who my real friends were, when the kids at the barn accepted me as part of their team. He taught me about partnership and how to give and take. He taught me to be a good leader because he only followed me when I got it right. He taught me to be responsible as I fed him and cleaned his stall each day. He taught me how to solve problems when I needed to figure something out. He taught me about patience and persistence when I had trouble training him. He taught me about laughter when he would act silly and we played games. He taught me about commitment because I knew I’d keep him forever. He taught me about compassion, when he was sick one cold winter’s night and I stayed with him until the morning. He taught me about weight loss, and that physical exercise helped me get thin. He showed me that I ate less when we stayed busy and had lots of fun. He showed me how to build muscles as I stacked bales of hay into the loft each summer. He taught me that girls could do any job that guys could do as I dug post holes, built fences and drove a backhoe. He taught me how to say NO when I needed to set boundaries. He let me know when I was angry that he didn’t want to be around me. He taught me that jealousy was a wasted emotion and something he never felt.

Moonshadow at 31 years old, Trish & niece in 1993

He taught me to ask for affection as he nudged me when he wanted some loving. He taught me how to make decisions about the rest of my life. He taught me how to pray when he was injured and the vet said the infection may kill him. He taught me how to be thankful when God saved his life. He bolted out of fear one day and as I was falling off his back, he introduced me to my Guardian Angel who put me safely back in the saddle and saved me from a bad fall. Moonshadow taught me about a mother’s unselfish love as she drove me to the stables and waited hours while I rode on a cold snowy day. He taught me about a father’s unending generosity as Dad paid for all of his expenses. Moonshadow taught me to follow my heart because he always followed his. He never judged me or called me names and he taught me I could do anything I put my mind to. He taught me how to work hard and he taught me how to be still. He taught me how to be caring as he became older and in pain with arthritis in his joints. He taught me about honesty because horses NEVER lie. He taught me about integrity and I learned to do what’s right. He taught me not to worry about what others thought of me but to love myself because I was special. He taught me to show what I was feeling because horses are authentic. He taught me how to love unconditionally because he was an expert at forgiveness. He showed me what courage looked like, as he battled disease in his body. And after 39 years of life, with his final lesson, he taught me how to grieve. When I buried Moonshadow on my farm, I was sad for a moment, but in my mind I could see him galloping over the hills once more, and in my heart I knew his spirit would be forever in heaven with Jesus. We’d been partners for 28 years and he taught me how to celebrate life.

When I had left my teenage years behind and those carefree days at the farm became fewer, the lessons Moonshadow had taught me were embedded in my soul and would carry me through my life journey. Those lessons helped me start my own business at the age of 22. As a fashion consultant, I helped others find confidence in themselves. I was able to stand in front of a roomful of people and speak publicly, no longer terrified. When I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship, I knew enough to leave because I’d learned I deserved better. After college, I became the general manager of my father’s manufacturing company, taking control of the company with ease and determination. Although I still owned Moonshadow and a few other horses during my years in business, my heart was missing the connection of our spirits. So after ten years in the daily grind of corporate business, I moved to Ocala, Florida and bought a 125 acre farm. It was a strange country and a town where I knew no one but I thought of it as an adventure. I was soon to find there was another mixture of lessons that I would learn from my four legged friends. From breaking and training young horses to racing thoroughbreds, I operated a 40 horse thoroughbred farm. As I started breeding and foaling mares, the lessons continued. I learned from each age group of horses more and more about communication and the wisdom they could impart to me.

Moonshadow at 38 years of age in 2000

I learned about relationships because horses are the experts on relational harmony. I learned someone would always be in control, but it didn’t always have to be me. I watched foals with their mothers and learned how to discipline. I watched weanlings playing in the pasture and learned how to schedule fun into my day. I watched yearlings grow into adults and start their own careers and how determination and repetition had them winning at their game. I learned about second chances when my racehorse won a race after recovering from an injury that was supposed to be career ending. I learned that as long as I did my best I could accept whatever happened. I learned from my herd of horses how to get along with others and what acceptable behavior looked like. I learned it doesn’t matter what others think of me, but what I think of myself will guide my destiny. I learned I could choose who I wanted to spend time with and who I should walk away from. I learned to be direct and to ask for what I wanted. I learned to find balance in my life because that was the only way to thrive. I learned to be kind to others because we need each other to survive. I learned to hear without words and to look at the heart because it is wiser. I learned to love God’s creation and to spend time in nature every day. I learned that faith isn’t just a word, but the substance of what dreams are made of. I learned that love is a choice as the herd accepted a new member. I learned that peace comes from within as I watched the herd graze at sunset. I thought about the 40 years I’ve spent with my horses and realized they had been my teachers and my coaches.

Finally I knew it was time to follow my passion of helping others learn the lessons of life from horses too. Today I’ve become a Certified Life Coach and Equine Specialist and teamed up with my horses on our beautiful ranch to offer everyone the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of the herd. They taught me that I’m creating my life story by the actions I choose each day. Our coaching programs are for teens, women, couples, families, business teams and leaders.