Here at Equine connection, we are giving the opportunity to work with so many amazingly beautiful humans. We have had so many positive experiences but one of them that stands out is when we worked with the junior high students from the local reserve.
I want to take a moment to make a side note. Many of the kids and youths that we work with have been given terms and acronyms to determine what disorder they have. Whether it OCD, ADD, ADHD, or even ODD I truly like to think of them not as disorders but as learning styles.
When we have the youths that come out with any of these we absolutely love watching their experiences from beginning to end because no matter who you are whether you have ADD or NO DD you have an absolutely amazing, unique experience that helps you individually as a person!
Anyway back to my story, so we had this one youth come out named Charlie. Now Charlie was a boy that decided he didn’t want to participate in any of our programs. For the first 3 times he showed up he would just either sit in the corner or go around critiquing his friends that they were doing things wrong. Overall, he was choosing not to participate and instead deciding to pursue his own interests.
However, on the 3rd or fourth visit, something incredible happened…
During the program, Charlie had gotten a little bored and so he decided to grab one of the wooden sticks, with the instructional sign on top of one of the stations. He took that stick and ripped it right from the platform that it was on and started whipping it around like a baton in a dance competition!
As you might expect, anything that sporadic will cause a huge increase in energy in the arena and the horses immediately reacted to it, as well as the facilitators.
Now you might be thinking the knee jerk reaction would be to make him immediately stop him and reprimand him for doing such a thing. Although as a facilitator, that would actually be doing the opposite of what we are trying to achieve…
Because our job as facilitators is to always give the power back to the human. To give them the opportunity to choose what they want to learn from circumstances such as this.
With this thought process in mind, even though our first reaction is to stop him, I first scanned the arena to make sure that, #1 the Horses and humans are all safe! When we know that everyone is in a completely safe state then we know only good things and learning can come from this!
Once we knew that that safety was secured, we did something contradictory to popular belief. We just let Charlie be, we didn’t even acknowledge the disturbance we was making. We knew that if we didn’t give him the reaction he was looking for then he will eventually give up.
Which of course he did, once he had gotten tired of waving his stick around he went back over to where had taken it off the platform and put it back. When he did this, Carolyn (a head facilitator) went over to him and gave him a clothespin.
He then asked her “What’s this for?”
To which she only replied, “This is for having integrity.” and then very casually walked away.
This absolutely blew Charlie’s mind! He had not gotten in trouble for his actions but instead was now being rewarded for his positive action!
Internally you could tell that this just turned on a whole new way of thinking. He immediately started making sure that not only was that instructional sign and stick back to where it was but also that it was perfectly straight and looking great!
That was the session that changed everything for him. He now came each week with a whole new attitude.
This story is just one of many that just goes to show how powerful EAL facilitation can be. When we can take every moment as an opportunity to work with horses to give a human the opportunity to learn skills in their own unique way, they have positive permanent change that fuels a better version of themselves.
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