WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

August 25, 2014

Green WordFood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 2:21 pm

Last Tuesday I was prepping my sweet little grey mare Calypso for my riding lesson. Now there’s a back story to this. About two weeks prior, I had attempted to learn how to inline skate. Suffice it to say that said attempt ended quickly as a result of two extremely hard landings on skinny butt on hard concrete. Since then those skates have been relegated to Craig’s List, and my patootie is slowly recovering. Now, fast forward to Tuesday.

One of the chores one does to prep your horse for riding is to clean the mess out of their hooves, the glop and dirt they pick up from being in their stalls or the corral. So you must work your way around the animal and pick up the hooves one by one and pick this mess out. I was dutifully doing this until I got to Calypso’s rear end. Then she started to balk. It was painful for me to lean over (a leftover from my aborted skating career). She’d dance away every time I went for her hoof. Bend. Dance. Ouch. Bend. Dance. Ouch. Three times. I popped her on the butt in frustration. Not hard. But enough to get her attention.

She leapt away from my hand and gave me that hurt LOOK. I have never popped Calypso. Ours is a most affectionate and loving relationship, made up of kisses and nuzzles and many handfuls of soft green grass. She was not happy with me.

However she did offer up her left back leg without protest so I leaned over and got to work.

Seconds later I felt, and smelled, a copious amount of reeking green wet material landing on my bare left shoulder, over my arm, onto my wrist, watch, fingers, leg, boots.

I started laughing helplessly. Looked over my right shoulder. Calypso was looking right back. “Got the message, cowgirl?”

I kept right on cleaning her foot. No water anywhere close by. I’d stink to high heaven my entire lesson.

Put her foot down gently. Eased up and walked to her head. We eyeballed each other. I reached up and nabbed her ears, and scratched them. Rubbed that sweet spot right over her eyes and then rubbed her eyes gently shut. Scrubbed her cheeks under the halter. She placed her muzzle into my chest and rested it there, then pushed me. “You’re forgiven.”

She gave me a lovely ride that day.

Her eloquent green WordFood was a fine reminder that it wasn’t her fault I was sore or irritated about my back. Not her fault I was stupid enough to try to learn a sport for six year olds. I wasn’t present for her and she knew it.  If I’m dumb enough to smack her and then sit in the landing zone, well then. I deserve precisely what I got.

What I loved about Calypso’s sweet lesson in humble green pie is that we don’t have the right to cascade our stuff onto innocents, be they animals, children, spouses, work partners, anyone else. It’s ours to process.  Let’s be courageous enough to deal with it ourselves before we find ourselves in the loading zone.

September 24, 2013

WordFood’s Four Footed Conversation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:52 pm

September brings golden aspens to the hills, and this morning at 8 am I was up at AA Stables in the chill and breezes of a pretty fall morning getting a sorrel named Archie ready to ride. Ginger, the stable owner, allowed me to set up the tack with minimal assistance from Chris, who was feeding today. I set an old, tough Aussie stock saddle on Archie’s back and he blew out his gut- something every rider is familiar with, a trick that ensures that the girth isn’t so tight later on the ride. This can have disastrous circumstances if you don’t tighten it several times. So I did my best. The saddle was very old and the leather recalcitrant, but I was finally able to get one more hole out of the cinch. I asked Chris to check and she gave me the go-ahead. However, Archie didn’t want to head up alone, and he resisted me every step of the way.

Archie and I walk-trotted up the rocky, aspen lined lanes of this mine-dotted territory, taking short canters where possible in the warming air, and enjoying the distant snows against perfect blue skies. We passed an abandoned mine, and I asked for another canter. Suddenly I felt the world go sideways, and I started to slide overboard as my saddle went south.

Anyone who’s ever had this happen can recount how this happens in perfect slo-mo. Over you go, helpless, and there’s the horse’s belly, BAM. Unfortunately all my 120 lbs landed square on a single rock in the lower back, and I tweaked my recently-repaired left knee in the process. Ouch.

Of course Archie now had a saddle under his belly and was lurching about, we were on a rocky lane that dropped off precipitously, and I had to get the heck up and calm him down as well as get the tack back on his back. I tied him off, and while this 1000 lb gelding was body blocking me against the trees I did my best to quiet him while at the same time manhandle the saddle. Archie was ready to head back to the stables NOW.

He’d done what he wanted, all right. I was dumped. However, the cinch, that part of the saddle the goes under the belly to keep the saddle on, was now snugly around his manly horse parts. Archie was not happy at my attempts to move the cinch- to which he responded with a powerful circular swipe of his left rear hoof- or my attempts to move the saddle forward without touching said manly horse parts. I already had one angry knee, and that hoof can do the same devastation as a 6’9″, 400lb linebacker.

I danced out of the way and looked for inspiration. Up here there wasn’t much, but there was my answer: big tufts of nice green grass. I led Archie over, tied him off, and while he was busy munching I pulled up and loosened the cinch in one quick move before he knew what happened. In no time the saddle was back on.

The cinch was now two holes tighter, and Archie had copped two mouthfuls of grass. Ten minutes of inconvenience. And for his craftiness, Archie got his tender bits repeatedly tweaked. Archie turned expectantly towards the stables. I turned him uphill, and on we went. He was most unhappy, and bucked three times to prove it. We had quite the conversation.

I could have walked Archie back to the stable.  Riders fix the problem and keep riding. There were so many lessons in this little adventure ranging from the constant reminder to ride a while and check that cinch once more time, to how like a personal relationship this is. The more I thought, the more I laughed. In every way, it was a gift. Sure I have a sore butt. But as I continue to train for my adventures in Tanzania, including a six-day horse safari, Archie’s argumentativeness gave me the perfect opportunity for problem solving on the trail in a relatively controlled environment. Better learn here than first time in Africa with a predator close by.

Those of us who love horses know that accidents, spills and bruises are a part of riding. Archie had his own agenda, and he paid a price for wanting a looser girth. I paid a price for not double checking. Great lessons all around. I’m going back next Tuesday, a little blue in the butt, for lots more. This time, I’m triple checking the girth. Thanks, Archie, priceless lesson learned.

In every aspect of our dealings with children, dogs, horses and those we love, the friction that we encounter is the place where we learn the most if we are open to it. If we own our part of it, and are willing to have a horselaugh along the way.

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