I spent the weekend hanging gates. Once I figured out the proper way to do so (use a 1/2″ drill bit first, then screw in the hinge), other than some muscle work, it was pretty easy to do. And yet, I’ve had these gates for a while. I bought them two, maybe three years ago, but with taking care of mom and my own health, they never got properly hung. Mostly because they weren’t needed.

Cue the arrival of two new horses. Now they’ve integrated with the herd nicely. They don’t really need to be separated. However, one of the mares is an old senior and she needs some extra food. Not uncommon, but with my herd who see me as the purveyor of horse treats and food, anytime I show up with a bucket there’s a bit of pushing. And, given that she’s an older lady who tends to give away when ears are pinned in her direction, I wanted to make sure she had all the time in the world to eat her bucket of soaked alfalfa pellets and senior feed. Enter the gates.

I spent two weeks picking up a 12′ gate and pivoting with it to close the gap. Thankfully the gates are aluminum. They’re not heavy, just awkward AF to move like that, especially when you have big horse butts in the way who do not want to move. That gate got hung yesterday.

When I went to feed the senior today, I let out a little “woo hoo” as I gently swung the gate closed and latched it. A little thing, but a huge win in my book. Now, it’s not as difficult to “close the gate” when I feed the senior. That got me to thinking about gates and boundaries. How sometimes it can take us so long to create boundaries that are really needed–like right now. We may have all the tools in place, even be thinking about them. And yet, when it comes down to it, we just can’t make that final thing happen. I mean, I’ve had these gates for 2 or 3 years. It literally took me an hour yesterday (a bit longer because I made a mistake I wanted to fix) and an hour today. And tada! All done! When I go into town again in two weeks, I’ll grab two more pairs of hinges and finally hang the other two. Do I need them right now? Nope. But it would be good to have an isolation pen for the horses just in case I do need it. It’s always better to set those boundaries before we need them.

Boundaries do a lot more than make taking care of our health, physical and mental, easier for us. (Or in the case of the gate, taking care of my horse’s health). They can also play a role in safety, such as the smaller gate I put in today. This is at the end of the run-in shed. The silver gate has always been there. Instead of the blue gate, it was just some flimsy wire. Just enough so the horses wouldn’t walk through. But it was easy for them to push down with their necks or disfigure, and I thought since I’d bought the smaller gates for the ends of the shed, to put this one in. Do I need it right now? Nope. Might it make work easier down the line? Maybe. But it is much safer than what I had before, and thus, much better for the horses. Oh, and that’s Holly, from the posts I made when she arrived, hanging out in the shed. (The senior is eating behind me in the open area) She’s certainly not the skinny thing she was when she arrived.

Horses need gates for safety. I need gates to make my work of taking care of them easier. We need boundaries — all of us do — in order to help our mental and physical health. On this Sunday Horses, I’m thinking about the ways my work with horses is helping me put up gates and make boundaries in my own life. How about you?

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