I’m almost convinced that there is no problem that horses can’t solve. This especially applies to our own personal challenges.
A current hurdle for my family is my second oldest son. My wife and I believe that our son has leadership potential and could grow up to become a great man - but only if he makes it through his teenage years.
My second oldest boy is entering his mid-teens, so naturally, I “know nothing” and he feels I could never understand what he’s going through. While I am not a teen growing up in the tech-age, I like to think I know a thing or two about finding happiness amidst life’s struggles. Which is why I convinced my son to volunteer at a horse-based nonprofit.
Horses Make The Best Listeners
We don’t have the resources to provide properly for a horse, but both my wife and I grew up with parents who owned horses. I remember being able to confide in my bay mare Boots and her huge, compassionate eyes were always so comforting. She wasn’t a registered therapy animal, but Boots was just what I needed.
Having that non-judgmental outlet let me express myself. With her as my sounding board, I was able to explore my thoughts and feelings in ways I wasn’t able to alone. This was a gift I wanted my son to have even though our family couldn’t keep horses.
Working Horses With A Group Builds Trust
Being a teen can feel isolating. You feel as if you are an island of confusing feelings and may not know how to reach out to others. My son had described similar feelings, and I knew volunteering with the horse-based nonprofit could help him reach out to others. And sure enough, after two weeks of volunteering, my son has already begun mentioning his new friends at the stables.
A recent study showed that there is a delicate balance to be struck when training with your horse. Teens who worked together on tasks as well as training their horses grew in self-esteem, self-efficacy, and socially supported each other. However, the teens in another test group focused solely on their own horses and as a result had negligible growth.
The key difference in these studies was that teens were working with others as well as their horses. I have found the love of horses to be an excellent icebreaker, and once the conversation is initiated, you should do your best to keep the communication open. Going through the joint struggle of caring for and training your horse can bond people together as well as help them grow individually.
Working with horses has helped shape generations of my family and I am hoping these magnificent animals can also work their magic on my son. And at the very least, he doesn’t complain as much about household chores after putting in a day’s work at the horse stables!
Tyler enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.