Doing things Differently… when horse sense makes good sense!

So many people ask me how Horse Assisted Development can possibly help with ‘people development’ that I couldn’t resist sharing a bit of my passion with you. Well, if I tell you that an experiential learning program that involves interaction with ponies is one of the best methods for engaging head, heart and hands in creating deep, meaningful learning and change, then perhaps it will start to make sense.

A girl I knew when I was younger started being bullied at school when she was about 9 years old. But, she was one of those kids who just got on with things, so she never really told anyone what was going on. It was all emotional stuff, so there were no bruises to show that anything was amiss. The bullying continued into her teens, but, being the strong, silent type nobody was ever aware of her angst.

At about 10, her parents started to let her have a few riding lessons. They didn’t have much money, so she could only ride every other week. But that girl spent all weekend, every weekend at the riding school, come hail or shine. She discovered that being around horses gave her an escape from the pressure. Even when she was being bullied at the riding school by some of the other girls, she kept on spending every moment she could with the ponies, grooming them, mucking out their stables, even just sitting with them whilst they munched their hay. You see, the horses never judged her, or criticised how she looked or felt. They just accepted that she needed a space in which she could be herself. And yes, they listened as she poured out her heart. In this space she could think clearly and she could start to feel good, no matter what.

30 years later, I had cause to reflect upon the times I spent with those ponies; the strength they gave me; the courage to stand up for myself; the wisdom to see that it’s actually ok to be different to everybody else.

Now, as a coach and therapist, I can take my own experiences as that lost, lonely girl who found solace in the company of horses and put them to good use in the Horse Assisted Development programs I run.

Whether it’s leadership and team development, or supporting young and vulnerable people in improving their life chances, interaction with horses and ponies can and does create real and lasting learning on many different levels. There’s no riding involved and you don’t even need to like horses!

So, what are you waiting for? Dare you do things differently?

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