Saturday, March 18, 2017

Teaching Young People With Complicated Lives

By allowing horses to be perceived as toys for little rich white girls, the established horse world done a lot to hurt our culture, both horse and human.  No one enjoys a cold glass of water as much as does a very thirsty man. No one enjoys learning natural horsemanship as does one who lives a life without connection, without trust and without leadership.

That is true whether one is speaking of our PTSD program for patients at the local Veterans Hospital or teenagers whose lives have been filled with what are often debilitating complications.

We work very hard to deal with those complications in the simplest of ways--teaching young people to make meaningful connections with horses. Natural horsemanship produces good horses, but it makes even better people.

And the students learn to work. They help feed up the livestock  and have worked hard clearing land and building pole and post fencing. They have learned to work together and have learned that their bodies are capable of doing much harder work than they ever imagined possible.

We do not have many things that go on at our horse lot that pleases me more than our program for students at Rivermont School. I recently took a large group of students for their first lengthy trail ride in the woods. The heavy rain made footing much wetter than I expected. One trail that is nearly half a mile long was entirely submerged at depths that often reached the horse's stomachs. During that ride the students went from fear, to fun, and most of all to pride and self respect. They were proud of their horses and they felt a real pride in making the long, wet trek though the woods. I asked the teacher send me a note with her perspective on the program. I will share that with you below:

"My name is Hannah Yasemsky and I am a Special Education teacher at Rivermont School in Hampton. Rivermont serves the population of students with emotional disabilities and/or behavior problems. Recently, Rivermont has linked up with Mill Swamp Indian Horse Farm to learn about natural horsemanship and began the process of healing through connecting with horses.

 Mr. Steve Edwards has been willing to mentor and teach young troubled teens about the basics of natural horsemanship and how working with horses teaches them lessons that they can apply to their lives as well. Rivermont students visit the farm on a weekly basis and have worked on the farm building fence ports and also participated in trail rides.

Since students have met Mr. Steve and his Mustangs, they are highly motivated to demonstrate positive behaviors in the classroom so they can earn time out on the farm.  I have seen so much confidence begin to develop in their young lives as they experience small successes on the farm. Most of my students have never experienced open fields, trails and sharing space with a diverse range of farm animals from goats, pigs, dogs and horses. Students have experienced a taste of freedom on the farm that I believe is so good for their soul! It has been such a blessing to be a part of their journey to self-discovery!"

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our second day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

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