Sunday, February 7, 2021

When Kids Understand

When families first begin to participate in our program they do not understand.

 They cannot understand how things work and why we have such a wide range of activities going on at the horse lot. It is not readily appearant that developing musical skills and learning to beat back stage fright can translate into more confidence in the saddle. Nor is it obvious that learning to complete only against oneself instead of against others can make a child a very successful competitor.

 Few people imagine that learning to understand and effectively communicate with a horse will help make it easier to understand and communicate with others who come from a different culture. Even fewer understand that natural horsemanship requires empathy and, even more importantly, hones empathetic skills.

 It certainly is not obvious that learning to work a green horse in a round pen can give a child confidence in every other walk in that child's life. I have yet to meet a family that brought a child out to the horse lot with an eye towards teaching the child to have "stage presence", yet the development of "stage presence" is the natural result of taking one's horsemanship skills to the level of being able to conduct an instructional round pen demonstration for an audience of strangers. 

 No one brings their child to the horse lot with an eye towards having that child become a riding instructor. Yet, some of the best instruction that occurs at our horse lot is when the teenage riders mentor newer riders. That is true whether the newer riders are kids or grand parents.

The volunteers who are at the core of our program come to understand all of those things. And the kids who ride with us for years also come to understand. 

One of the most important notes that I have ever received from a teenage rider included this powerful phrase, "Thank you for teaching me to play music and to work hard."

Think about that, "...and to work hard."  When a kid understands the importance of  that lesson that kid has a huge step up on the rest of the world. 

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