Happy New Year AthensNow “Neigh”bors!
January is a great time to do inventory while assessing the horses that are under your stewardship: observing their health, their feed (no dusty or moldy hay) and their water supply. This is also a great time to consider a plan for a particular horse. What is it that you would like to enhance with your horse (see sidebar for a few possible goals)?
• More trusting relationship
• More confident trail-riding
• Stand still while mounting
• Go around the barrels faster
• Jump a little higher
• Enter and exit horse trailer more relaxed
• Harness to a buggy, wagon, or cart
• Place in the first 3 or 5 positions at a horse show
• Competition in an endurance event
• Healer/teacher for someone, even yourself
• More clarity on your personality and the horse’s “horsenality”
• Deeper level of connection with the horse
You may choose to write your plan down, or simply meditate and hold that plan inside. To bring about advancement we need a plan. Or a song! Let me explain. If the horse you are riding is moving at an undesirable pace, select a song. Set the tempo and silently sing your song inside!
I was told this once by a teenager while I was riding in an outdoor arena the evening before a horse show. The mare I was riding had a bloodline of athletic performers. She had forward motion and energetic tempo. This precious teen came up to me on her horse and asked me if I knew I could increase or slow the speed of a horse by singing a song inside.
I had NEVER heard this before but I was awed at what she was telling me. I thanked her and gave it a whirl. It worked! The song tempo inside was much slower than the leg movements of the horse at first but I continued and the mare slowed down. I am so grateful this teen used her voice and had the confidence to share this with me.
Recently, I was asked how long I have been doing this and why horses. I was a licensed foster parent and our home offered a place for respite on weekends for a child or siblings. I had two horses. I began to teach the children about horses: safety, grooming, feeding, mucking, and with permission, riding in the round pen wearing a helmet. I knew horses had brought healing to me in varied ways and now I was seeing it happen right before my eyes with the children!
I had favor with social workers, teachers, school counselors, in-home caregivers and a handful of organizations in my community. We all worked together for the wellbeing of children in need. From this, I developed Abba’s Lad Riding Camp where I would have one-day camps (usually family units or a specific group), two-day camps and three-day camps. I worked with four young people (either all girls or all boys) during the 2- or 3-day camps and our home became their bunkhouse. I extended the camps to home-schooled children, community Christian school students and, having laid a foundation, opened to community.
On one of my birthdays, my life took on a new form. I held a baby in my arms in Huntsville, AL. I was a grandmother! In time, we moved from the North to the South. A desire to be a part of this little one’s life compelled me to pack up. It is here that CORRAL CONNECTIONS was developed. I changed from doing camps to offering one-on-one sessions and group sessions. The horse/human connection here is more about grooming, hands on, and ground work. These three tend to bring definition to leadership skills, self-discovery, belief systems, and confidence, along with communication, awareness and observation.
Horses are some of the best counselors our young people will ever encounter. Teens can learn how to say all the right things during a counseling session. They’re smart. Like some horses, they want you off of their back! What I have eye-witnessed is teens come to know their horse will not let them “get by” with anything! Life changing potential!
2015 – Rearin’ to go into the lives of teens and young people with horses.
2015 – Being an eye-witness of Abba Father’s tender mercies and perfect, unfailing love to our future generation.
Your NEIGHbor, Deb Kitchenmaster