Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Truth Is In There: The Round Pen As a Model For Self Understanding

Natural horsemanship does not merely provide insights and analogies that give rise to parables that have meaning for human understanding. Instead, when conducted properly and thoughtfully, it is a laboratory to directly explain human emotional agony and to provide a guide to getting out of that misery.

In past months I have been working with people who have PTSD simply brushing horses and moving them in the round pen until the horse comes to attach himself to the patient. I am floored at the degree of stress relief this brings to those in the round pen. Our program is now part of the regular protocol for treatment at a local veteran's hospital.

I am working on a training program for law enforcement to use the round pen to enhance communication and leadership skills. I have no doubt that natural horsemanship, specifically round pen work, can impart skills that will reduce the chances of gun fire in hostile encounters.

And understanding the round pen can make one a better parent. We train horses using 51% control and 49% affection. We teach the horse by instantly releasing the pressure the moment the horse begins to respond as we wish.

It is very easy to teach a horse to ignore direction--simply continue the pressure even if the horse complies. The person who constantly keeps pressure on the bit because they do not want the horse to run away trains a horse to do one thing--run away.

The parent who never releases the pressure on a child produces a child who can find no peace. The instant the child responds appropriately every once of pressure must be replaced with a shower of genuine affection.

Absent such instruction the child learns that she is not good enough. That is the first thing that she learns.

The second thing that he learns is that she has no ability to effect her own future. It simply does not matter what she does--be she good, bad or indifferent--the result is the same. She becomes angry and resentful.

What else could be expected?

But there is something worse that should be expected and will be seen. She will become helpless. She will come to view life as a series of random events--good and bad--all completely outside her realm of control.

Why would she work hard to achieve anything? Why would she not choose to drop out and burn out?

Or, she can be taught that work has rewards. She can be taught that he is of value simply because he exists.

She can than understand that everyone around her is of value simply because they exist.

And if you work horses in the round pen, or if you have kids, and everything written above does not make perfect sense to you then you are likely failing, with  both your horses and your children.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm...another course application which could have some very long reaching effects.
No parent is without need of some reinforcement and support.

I have had a whole slew of conversations with Nelson, and two of the ones that stick out in this light was about the "hover parent" phenomenon, which might very well be the single most damaging influence on younger seems like most adults don't know how to really live (do any of us? Is it even possible in this day and age of fast life, and ever increasing societal complexity? Hint:life begins at the canter.) and many cannot allow their kids to learn to live. Let em fall off the horse..better they fall now and get back on, than to fall later when there is no support.

The other conversation was about how (I am not going into the root causes here..too early to pick fights at any rate) our schools have become petri dishes for the cultivation of bullies..Kid starts out afraid of the bully, then gets nailed for "tattling" then gets nailed for trying to defend himself or herself. To be blunt..that is beyond stupid. Speaking for myself and my little (bigger than me) brother, and our cousins..we were of course, never allowed to pick a fight, but failing to finish one..or defuse it, had unpleasant consequences..
Horsemanship will certainly build the confidence in a young person to help them cope with such adversity...after all, one who can move a 900 lb animal around with eyeballs and attitude should not have nearly as much trouble with a schoolyard bully. -Lloyd