Thursday, January 27, 2011
Deadly Serious, No Satire here
One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage others to develop riding programs that teach natural horsemanship to kids, teach kids to respect each horse for who he is, not what ribbons he has won, or even worse what ribbons his father won, preserve and promote rare, historic horses, focus on natural hoof care and natural horse care, and have as their ultimate goal the production of better people.
A program will only be able to continue if safety of horse and student are of the highest priority. Safety involves more than writing up a list of rules. It involves such complex issues as teaching a young, distracted kid to concentrate and to focus on everything around them with a constant eye toward safety. It requires the student to come to understand that she is capable of doing more difficult things than she ever imagined possible. It requires that the student come to believe that if I said that it could be done, then that simply is how it is.
That is why I do not discourage hero worship among my younger riders. It certainly has nothing to do with the size of my own ego. Unfortunately for me, the reality is that I am perhaps more aware of my own faults, frailties, foibles, and failures than most people are of their own. I do not think that I am Super Man. All too often I feel barely a man at all.
However, the safety of my littlest riders is absolutely dependent on my ability to build their confidence. Success for my littlest riders must be defined as pleasing me. When that is the case they will listen harder when I talk about one rein stops. They will trust me when, while deep in the woods, I yell 'dismount now' because of a safety threat that I see of which they are unaware. I will use whatever it takes to prevent an inexperienced rider from substituting their judgement for mine.
If doing so is facilitated by a second grader believing that I am infallible, then I do not discourage that.
Of course, I am not infallible, but I am responsible. I am responsible for the safety and emotional health of all of my little riders (and sometime my big riders too). It can be a bit overwhelming to set out on a fifty mile ride with 15 riders behind me knowing that nearly everyone of them is on a formerly wild horse, that several are riding stallions, and that many of my riders are not natural athletes.
Many years ago I was at a a deer skinning shed talking to several little boys about stone age technology, using and making stone projectile points and knives, and authentically tanning hides. Unbeknown to me, one little boy went around to each butchering site and picked up all of the stretches of fresh deer ligaments and tendons that he could find. He filled his pants pockets with his slippery, bloody bounty.
When he got in the truck his father asked him what was in his pockets. His response was brief.
"I don't know Daddy, but Steve said that it was an Indian thing and I am going to keep them all."
For their own sake I need for my little riders to be able to believe that, even if they do not understand exactly why we do the things that we do, they are going to keep doing it that way because Steve said that that is how we do it.
(The brilliant little girl shown above is too mature for hero worship, but it was the closest picture that I could find to illustrate the point.)
Posted by Steve Edwards