Posted on August 13, 2014

Lessons Learned From Laurie Hutchinson – I Got Your Back

Laurie and Hugo

Laurie and Hugo

Life is a journey and one day we will see the destination.   Going through life, having the right attitude, the right friends, seeking in Him, and having faith are the important ingredients to finding Hope.  My journey started in December 2012 and from that point until today, many life lessons have been learned of which I wish to share with you.

“I got your back, I got your back” is what I remember telling my business colleague and friend, Laurie Hutchinson, over and over again.  There were many times in the first year that I had said those words to her.

Starting this horse boarding business venture together was taking a big risk for both Laurie and myself.  For Laurie, a single mom with two beautiful children and a reputation on-the-line; and me a mom, wife, and business owner, about to open my personal farm and home to people and these wonderful animals with minimal experience.  As I have heard from other entrepreneurs, “…with great risk comes great reward.”  Once Laurie and I decided that we were going to take this risk together, we then met with a business consultant who asked us the ultimate question:  “What is your dream and vision?”

For those that did not know Laurie, she did not cry easily.  She was a strong woman who believed in living her life as a warrior and she knew there was no other option than to survive and provide for her two girls.  Laurie only cried about the people she loved and her passions so with that being said, to see Laurie shed tears over this question, I knew that any response was going to come from the heart.

Laurie’s response was simply, “I dream of a place, a peaceful sanctuary, where people of all ages experience kindness, joy, understanding, and where you can achieve whatever goal you wish to achieve no matter how small or grand.”

After I heard this, I knew instantly that I was about to start this venture with the person that God had intended me to start this dream with.  So we started this business and tried to achieve our dream and, we quickly faced obstacles and trials.  However, I will tell you that life is about trials and at some point we all fall, but the question is, “will you get back up and continue to live that dream?”

This is the question I was faced with on the tragic day of March 4, 2014.  I would have never anticipated dealing with what occurred to my beautiful Laurie.  Beautiful, and when I say beautiful, yes Laurie Hutchinson was a beautiful woman on the outside, but she was a beautiful soul that radiated all the Fruits of the Spirit:  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.  I, personally, witnessed this in my sweet friend when handling herself with horses or others.

How could anyone be prepared to lose someone that was such a blessing in their lives?

Laurie Hutchinson died on March 4, 2014 and about 4 hours after Laurie had passed, I remember walking down to the barn and looking at all that we had started and thought, “That is it, I will not get up from this one.”  But I remember my heart feeling, “I got your back.”  At that moment, I knew that I needed to put my confidence in my Faith.   I felt myself saying to Him, “How do I lead this community who so loved Laurie and the blessings that she placed in these lives?”  “How do I help this community to feel the Hope that they all will need?”

Our Whispering Hope Stables community suffered a great loss.  With that great loss, it produced a level of perseverance that we walked out each day together.   This perseverance brought each one of us patient endurance during this hardship and it was the ability to be persistent in this state of hardship that has deepened our community’s character.

Our staff had changed, but our vision and character had prevailed as a special place.  Each and every one of us that walked through this had experienced our own level of Hope, whether it was starting a show season with our horse that Laurie trained, having a foal to care for, becoming more solid in a journey with our horse, or growing stronger friendships.   The Hope was shining through in so many ways at Whispering Hope Stables.

For me, I truly experienced every stage of grief:   shock, sadness, anger, and depression.  I was not familiar with depression and I just remember thinking how do I get through this?  Well, God answered my prayer about 7 weeks after Laurie passed when a friend and member of Whispering Hope Stables, Judy Humphries, sent me a text saying, “God placed it on my heart to tell you to start spending time with the Boss.” 

I kept thinking to myself, “HUGO, are you insane? “   Every time I looked at Hugo I would cry, as he lost his rider and the one woman who had his back.  My heart broke for him and there was nothing that I could do to help him outside of considering selling this fancy, Dutch Harness, Dressage horse.  So shortly after receiving the text, I went into his stall, which I never did.  As I stood there looking into his eyes which I learned quickly are very gentle and kind, I said out loud, “well Laurie, I will never ride him like you did, but I will do everything in my power to love and care for this 1200 pound animal.  I’ll provide him a home where he can feel safe and be a horse that he so deserves to be.”   God blessed me with a husband that allowed me to keep Hugo no longer as an investment that Laurie and my husband envisioned, but now as a sign of Hope that I needed.

I knew that my personal goal was to develop my relationship with Hugo and enjoy riding him on trails and traveling to places to ride him with my family.   So my journey began with training with Brian Nichols, a friend of our family.  While training with Brian, I have seen so much of myself in Hugo as he is a mirror image of my faults and weaknesses:  patience, worry, yet gentleness.  Hugo is a wonderful and gentle soul when he is not under my reins, but under my reins he lacked patience and worried all the time.  I learned quickly about the powerful connection between the rider and her horse.  Very similar to the line in the movie, Avatar, “…make the bond…” it is almost as the souls are fused when the horse is under reins.  Brian Nichols once said to me, “softness comes from the heart,” which is so true, but equally true is that Hugo was teaching me about me.

For those that do not know Hugo, he has a mighty trot so trying to learn to ride him will be a long journey and a process that requires patience. However, he is very cautious when we trot and I asked Brian one day, “why is it so hard to get him to start the trot?”  And Brian’s response was, “he is taking care of you.”   So in essence, he has my back too.  Who knows maybe Laurie has a hand in all this as it is possible that she is now returning the favor.

I miss Laurie so much and there is not a day that goes by that I do not look to the gate to see that grey Mercedes come flying through the Whispering Hope Stables gates.   And for those of you that may not know Laurie and her driving, she always drove with a purpose.  One of my favorite stories of Laurie’s driving was following her in my pickup truck and seeing a deer jump out in front of her car.  She slammed on the brakes and thank God she did not hit the deer.  I called her on her cell phone and she quickly answered the cell phone saying, “Can you believe that beast almost made me spill my coffee?”  Oh how we ALL would love to see her one more time just to hear those lines.

To conclude, I believe that her presence is everywhere around us, if we just look and listen.  Each time I am on Hugo, when I talk to her daughter, when I am with my staff, Erik, Madeline, Dawson and Nelson, when I talk to her past students like Eva, Mindy, Darlene, and many more, I feel Laurie and her spirit.  What I hope for people to take from this article are a few things:  First, Laurie was a great woman and mom and her legacy will continue here at Whispering Hope Stables.  Second, live out each day as it is your last and love everyone like it is the last time you will see them.  Next, take care of those who have your back and have faith to know that He has your back at all times.  And lastly, speak to your obstacles not around them as life is a journey that only a few experience – so enjoy the ride you are on.

Written by:  Amy Peters


Whispering Hope Stables