Knowing When To Fold 'Em

The flock move went amuck this morning, or rather I did and hence the move never happened. This was a longer move, I had a time limit and I was starting late. I had it in my head that the gather must be done on horseback (I’ll remind you that I’m new to horses and riding) plus I took two dogs (who are new to working with me on a horse) and I expected it to all work out seamlessly.

It did not go well. I rushed out on the horse, sent the dogs willy-nilly, and then lost my cool when one of them went into the flock instead of starting a gather. When I caught myself yelling at dogs and not offering support or solution, I called it done and headed home, suppressing my tears of frustration, a couple of forlorn dogs trotting along behind, several  hundred animals still where they were originally.

Why do I mention it here? I suppose in some way, to reaffirm to myself that I’m human to. But mostly to share that out of this came a small pearl of wisdom.    

I called it quits. That’s the nugget.

Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for everyone or every animal involved is just to call it quits.

You see, I have a small useless belief that calling it quits is firmly judged as being a quitter and is not allowed. And trust me, because of this belief I can continue on task, without ceasing, until every party involved is mentally exhausted and spiritually broken. It’s never pretty and I always feel awful for days afterward.

But I didn’t do that today. I said that’s enough of this, nobody is happy here. I walked away leaving several hundred animals where they were.

Knowing when to call it done and doing so is a sign of great improvement. It requires some self awareness, that allows mental clarity to seep in and speak up even when emotions are taking over.  Realizing what I’m doing is not working for the betterment of any party allows me to slide back into a place to work for the greater good of all.

On the ride home I felt the relief sink in. Yes, several hundred sheep were still where they were, ... and the sun still set and will still rise tomorrow...
I noticed another funny thing. I began to let it go much sooner than I can let go of all the ways I damage my dogs by pushing to get a task done. It was over.  I carried on with hosting a fun day in the afternoon (the reason for the time limit on the morning) and had a wonderful half day working dogs and helping people; realizing none of us ever know the days traumas and triumphs other people are carrying.


  1. I had one of those moments Thursday. I was getting ready for Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, and needed to take my horse to a friend's where she would be staying for the weekend. I had gotten up early and hit the ground running. By the time I was trying to load Tang, I was shaking with hypoglycemia. She steadfastly refused to get in (knowing I was in no shape to force the issue). After 3 tries, I stopped. I tied her to a tree, and went into the house and called the friend, who prompted me to eat while waiting for her to arrive. You're right - it's key to know when to quit pushing. A marvelous tool... I'm glad that things turned out as well for you, as they did for me!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Laura. It is a marvelous tool. I hope I've learned the smarts to pay attention to using it from now on. It is very freeing when we stop pushing our own agenda onto everything else.


Post a Comment