How Does This Hat Tell A Horse Story?

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As the fall schedule came together I found I was busier than ever.  I would return home each night at 10 and go to bed wondering if I should start looking for an assistant.  I knew I had a few up and coming young people, but I was just not sure if anyone of them could step up.

It takes a lot for high school students to succeed these days.  The homework piles up, there is no such thing as recreational sports anymore, and everything is so hard-core.  Adding a job to these demands is often too much and just adds to anxiety levels.  I try to make the barn their haven and a place to find reprieve from their stress.  So, I didn’t want to put any pressure on the girls by announcing my needs.  I planned to simply wait it out a little bit longer.

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The Hat will make sense when you arrive at the end of this tale.  I find myself raising teenagers all the time.  Most people would cringe at the idea of being surrounded by kids in this age group.  Around the barn, they joke with me when I call them mean-agers.  I don’t see the teens as a problem, they are my assets.  This fall, I lost 2 working students to the pursuit of their dreams and I have been feeling the crunch…who will be riding all those new ponies?

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Most of my teens work hard during the summers as counselors in my camp program and  they’re awesome!  I teach them the skills to be successful.  They learn to be prompt, courteous and work together as a team.  I have my sayings…”always work harder than your boss, never walk past a piece of trash without picking it up, if the trash container is full you empty it,  clean the toilets, and when you feel like yelling, say something positive instead.”  They joke about me never saying something is perfect, yet they beg me to hold my brown bag lunches where we learn about paying taxes, job interviewing and other grown up things.  I could brag about them all and I will a little bit at a time, but now, the hat story.

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In my heart I was hoping one of my teens would ask for a job.  I didn’t want to recruit any particular one of them because I didn’t want to add pressure to their high school rigors.  A few days ago, Macayla stepped forward and said she needed to make “horse” money.  Her parents wanted  her to contribute to the budget that came with her new project, Pickles.  We talked about what the job could be and then the barn exploded with after school activity.  I told her to just wing the first day, find things to do, and maybe ride the ponies.

As I taught, Macayla hustled around.  She was always where I needed her, always looking for something else to do.  Then she found my HAT!  I hadn’t hidden it, as I sometimes do, to offer fun incentives to the finder.  I hadn’t announced to anyone that it was missing.  My hat was simply stranded where I’d left it a few days earlier. I knew where it was and I thought about retrieving it numerous time, but everyday I was just too busy to make that extra walk.  It was pushed under a mounting block, into a crevice, to keep it from blowing away in the wind.  This hat isn’t anything special, and certainly not expensive.  Yet when Macayla brought it to me that day, and said “Ms. Kathy I found your hat and I know you’ve probably been looking for it,”  I was impressed that she found it!  I was even more impressed that she simply wanted to make my day better as she went about looking for jobs to do.  The act wasn’t about my hat, the act was about a good kid trying to do what is right.   At that moment I knew that someday she would become another mean-ager, successfully turned adult.  When that day arrives, I know that the barn village will be proud of her.   Just like the others before her.  Good kids really do come through horses.

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