SYNERGY is a ubiquitous phenomenon from physics to chemistry, herds to birds, cliques to corporations. It’s from the Greek “synergos,” translated as “working together,” but the concept is bigger than that: It means working BEYOND, i.e. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Thank you, Aristotle! )

I got the concept of synergy at eleven. As I told you in a January blog “Mise-en-scene,” part of my childhood was spent in Paris, France. My favorite place in the city was the Sainte Chapelle, an architectural masterpiece built by Louis IX in the thirteenth century to house the purported relics of the Passion--part of the Crown of Thorns and a piece of Christ’s cross. Only 34 feet wide and 67 feet long, its glorious stained glass windows rise 50 feet in the air creating solid walls of glass. I was awestruck not only by the architectural phenomenon but also by the effort that went into creating every image, one piece of glass at a time. I liked sitting along the sides of the chapel, watching sun pour through the windows creating patchwork carpets on the massive stone block floors. It was like being in God’s jewel box.

To be successful, a team needs to be synergistic. It has taken a while to lay the foundation for such a team at the MMSC (and many thanks to all of you who have helped along the way). Finally after six years, we have built a solid team that works together, each bringing unique strengths (or colors!) to our mission.

You have already met, Catherine Flowers (Cat People and The Three Gs, andPromise), Barn ManagerShe came to the MMSC in 2012 first as a volunteer, then for an internship, then...for another internship! She graduated this May Summa Cum Laude from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, and applied for the MMSC barn manager position. I had numerous applications for the job. The choice was a tough one. While Catherine had fewer technical horsemanship skills than some of the applicants, she had earned my deepest respect with her ceaseless (pay-less!)dedication in all that she did for the MMSC. I know first hand the toll of the long days and hours. She always showed up, on time, professional, even tempered, and positive. Her loyalty and honesty, smarts, work ethic and passion outweighed any lack of riding technique. That can be acquired. In June, Catherine came on as Barn Manager, and every day, I am grateful for having made this decision.

When I first became Director in 2008, all bills were paid through the headquarters office in New York.  To get a better understanding of what was going where, I bought a Quickbooks program along with the oh, so necessary, Quickbooks for Dummies and set up my own records. I learned a lot, most importantly that bookkeeping is detail oriented and there is lots of room for error. When we became our own 501(c)3 in 2012, I knew I didn’t have the skill sets to be keeper of the REAL numbers.
MA + 3 (Joseph, Anna, and Conner, l to r)
Enter Marialyce Gradek,an experienced book keeper for non profits, with a devilish sense of humor and ten year old triplets. Talk about a colorful character! I look forward to MA’s (for that is what I call her)  once a week appearances at the MMSC very much.

Lori, Jasper and Sam

MA’s big sister, Lori Tobin, Office Manager, came on board in the summer of 2012. A lawyer by profession, she relocated from DC to Lexington in 2008 to be closer to her family, and started teaching med tech law classes. For almost a year, she donated her time in the MMSC office. Lori has many assets, the greatest of which is her OCD attention to detail which she uses to get everything in order from tattoo numbers to pedigrees, applications to contracts, phone calls to appointments. Lori keeps track of them all. Most importantly, Lori keeps me on track. That is no small task as anyone who knows me well would attest! I have a proclivity to travel at high speeds in multiple directions at once. Thank goodness, I got the funds together this spring to hire her. She keeps the whole place together. 

Tony Yanek, Farm Manager, is my exquisite tiger. Reserved, moody, perfectionistic, he prowls the premises, headphones over his ears, tuned out to the world, but not missing anything, keeping the terrain beautiful, watching over every horse, piece of equipment, fence board and tree. He comes and goes tending to his own work. He sputters and scowls when anyone (including Catherine and me) leave anything out in the elements or out of place in the barn. Although he is truly a pussycat, Tony has terrified many an intern in the three years  he has worked for me on and off, as a contract laborer until I could afford to hire him full time. Tony is also terrific at Natural Horsemanship. He’s observant, quick, and strong with that rare combination of quiet confidence and compassionate leadership. Fillies, in particular love him. Tony's shadow is named Tank. He is the only dog allowed full-time on campus. That’s because Tony has trained him to perfection. He is obedient, unobtrusive, and an excellent watch and working dog.  He also is a playmate for barn cats Sam and Jasper, who,when not on pest patrol, stalk him. Then there’s Callie, a feral female that shadows the boys. She’s quite wild still, but as soon as we can lay secure hands on her, she has an appointment with the Humane Society for “alterations.”  Then, she, too, will be welcome as  a part of the synergistic MMSC team.

So back to the idea of the whole being more of the sum of its parts. In my travels throughout France, I saw churches and cathedrals with windows damaged or obliterated in war. It saddened me. Having seen the Sainte Chapelle. I knew that every piece of glass, no matter what size or color was essential to the telling of the story

My screen saver at work is a constant reminder of that. It's an image of just one of the 1,134 scenes in the Sainte Chapelle. I want the team of warriors and the white horse to make me mindful of and grateful for every individual who helps the MMSC on its crusade for Thoroughbred Aftercare. It also reminds me that the story can only be seen when graced from light on high.
     Cheery bye!