This week I've been getting settled into my new farm. Last night, as I was starting to decorate, I hung up one of my favorite pictures.
Some people might find it strange to see a photo of a reining horse displayed so prominently in a dressage barn. "Who is he?" You might ask. This is Darren Stancik. I've been fortunate in my life to meet many wonderful horse trainers, and he is up there with the best of the best: Kind, fun, and ethical to both humans and horses. I was lucky to be able to share Sky River Equestrian Center with him for a few wonderful years before the world lost him too soon to a heart attack on Dec 31 2019.
For a while, we co-managed the farm together, and I am still inspired and guided by his leadership skills. He had the ability to run a tight ship and very effectively manage staff and clients while always having a smile on his face and empathy that made everyone feel respected and appreciated. It was a beautifully-executed balance of high expectations and professionalism combined with good humor, understanding, and friendship. His leadership made the whole farm feel like one big family: A happy, positive, healthy environment for horses, clients, and staff.
His horsemanship skills were wonderful too. His horses always looked relaxed and content when he was riding. I often ventured over to his arena to ride with him (spinning and sliding horses are great desensitization training for dressage horses! Lol!). I remember one ride together in particular where I was on a green horse who was just learning to steer, and it was the horse's first field trip into the reining arena. The horse decided that he definitely didn't steer in new places! We were kind of all over the place and most certainly in Darren's way. I apologized and offered to leave and go finish the ride in my arena so that Darren could get done what he needed to with the horse that he was on. He invited me very sincerely to stay, saying something along the lines of "gotta ride them through it. It's the only way they get better." The success and every horse in the barn mattered so much to him, whether or not they were in his program. I think of what he said that day a lot when I'm riding through something tough, especially on a youngster. I wish that I could remember the exact words, because I know I'm wrong... my paraphrase doesn't feel right, but I remember the sentiment from whatever his words were, and it empowered me that day to ride through it and still does today (because as we all know, I'm not one who loves the feeling of being on a distracted, not entirely on the aids, horse).
"Attitude is Everything" was Darren's slogan, and it was reflected in everything he did and resulted in a very successful business and career for him. It's a phrase that I've been thinking about a lot as I'm in the process of moving to a new facility, and now it hangs on my wall, captioning his photo. Change is always hard, but it can lead to great things. It's all about Attitude. So much in life is all about Attitude. And of course, that's part of the purpose of Hypno-Ride... helping train our minds to have the right Attitude.
I'm so fortunate to have known such a great man, who is able to inspire me even now, years later. Thank you, Darren Stancik.