Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Expect A Horse To Act Like A Horse

Expect a billy goat to act like a billy goat......

and expect kids and young people to act like kids and young people.

Horses are not people and they are not dogs. Assuming that they should act as either people or dogs is the first, and perhaps most significant, wall that one must breach in order to develop a meaningful relationship with a horse.

I am always amazed to hear people complaining about the smell of Spicer, our San Clemente Island billy goat. People actually ask, why does he smell like that?

Because he is a goat! He is doing what billy goats do and he smells like billy goats smell!

I recently received wonderful news from a  lady who is going to develop a, as she described it, "therapy like" riding program. She is going to be great for  the job and is going to touch a lot of lives. I offered to be available when she wanted to discuss program development.

It struck me that the first thing that anyone who is developing a program should do is prepare for kids and young people to act like kids and young people. That does not mean that one should not set high standards of behavior and have high expectations of program participants. That does not mean that one should not work to develop a program that increases the maturity and responsibility of participants.

But it does mean to thicken one's own skin and recognize that kids and young adults will act as kids and young adults. Some will act out of an abundance of selfishness and self interest. Some will act and react out of nothing but their current insecurities and lack of comfort. In doing so they may very well act without recognizing how much their actions utterly shred the feelings of the people around them.

But that is how many kids and young people act--and that is how kids and young people have always acted. To expect program participants to have the empathy that one would rightfully expect of an old person is to expect them to have had the same experiences  in their short lives that a sixty year old has had in theirs.

It can't be done.

But stick with it. Don't give up on them.

Just hunker down like you would do in a very bad storm. 

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