Do you kick yourself or forgive yourself?

Yesterday I got a horrible text.

It was from the morning feed crew at the ranch. It came at 7:27am and it read “I know you had a lot on your mind last night, but you left Archer in the stall.” My heart stopped momentarily and my upbeat morning coffee buzz came to an abrupt halt.

Translation: Archer, the oldest horse at the ranch, is brought into a stall each night and is fed grain and supplements. When he’s done eating, we let him back out into the paddock to join the rest of the herd.

Problem was, I forgot to let him out.

I was preoccupied with the small stuff.  Making sure every piece of hay was swept up in the barn aisle, the grain buckets were cleaned and put away and that the paddock was mucked and pristine. The place looked like it could be featured on the cover of Farm & Ranch magazine.

Yet, I completely spaced the most important thing. My inner critic was having a heyday. 

I initially felt petrified that Archer was not ok as a result of my mistake. Then a tsunami of mortification pounded me over the head. I couldn’t believe I had done something so stupid.

After frantically texting back, I received reassurance that Archer was ok. Whew, I let out a sigh of relief. But the mortification was still looming.

I had to take the reins of this situation and own my error. I dialed Archer’s owner. I took a deep breath and left an apology voicemail.

Hanging up the phone, I broke down. Broke down because Archer had  limited water for the night and was separated from his herd which is stressful for a horse. Broke down because I know better than to leave the barn without at least three final checks of everything. Broke down because suddenly I felt incompetent and like the worst person in the world.

As if my entire self worth was riding on this one mistake.

“Do not waste another moment of your life worrying about something you cannot change. Keep your eye on what you can do today and going forward.  Learn to handle your mistakes with love, forgiveness, a positive, quick response and arm yourself with a “what to do next time” strategy.” ~ J. Marie Novak

Archer deserved an apology and I had to see him for myself. I went out to the ranch to check on him and indeed he was fine. He didn’t try to run me over and kick me like I had been kicking myself.

No, he stood still with a soft eye and silenced my inner critic. Damn, horses are so good at that.

The tsunami of guilt was slowly replaced with a wave of compassion. Compassion for horses. Compassion for myself and that I am far from perfect which is perfectly ok. In general, horses are incredibly forgiving of our human mistakes. Another one of their gifts for us to learn from.


In that moment, I could acknowledge that I screwed up without it meaning that I was a bad person and a failure at life. It just meant that I was human and therefore make mistakes sometimes.

Do you ever find yourself so consumed with the small stuff that you overlook the most important stuff right in front of your face?

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. There’s nothing fun or sexy about making a mistake. We can’t go back and change it but we can learn from it and keep moving down the trail of life. Picking up more awareness and lessons as we go. 

Thou shalt not sweep the small stuff (not first anyway.) How do YOU move on when you’ve made a mistake? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Humbled by horses,


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