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How Training Your Horse Can Help You Appreciate Life's Challenges
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How Training Your Horse Can Help You Appreciate Life's Challenges

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.

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  1. jst4horses
    I think it is great for a Father to not just help his own son, but to help others with advice. Being an equine therapy Director for high risk youth, veterans and first responders and their families I have to say, today on my Parelli Minute the message was to learn to lift, and push, rather than pull and tug.........................this concept has always been in my mind with my own children, now forty something wonderful men, and my adopted daughter, as well as those I work with........................I do warn people that many equine therapy programs are in fact psychology on a horse rather than a couch, and do NOT allow the horses to do their own horsey work. We use the first 500 hours of NativeNaturalHorsemanship to help both our horses and riders heal each other. We learn each day from the riders and the horses. Every day when I feel I can not take whatever in my life................I remember an amazing and horribly abused two year old one of my sons purchased for me long ago when I was horribly disabled................that horse made me realize, in his own healing, that I could heal and stop fighting with life, but just enjoy the good things......and begin to trust them. I had put that horse in an expensive and wonderful stable, the first night the owner called and said could I put him in a paddock. I said she could, she explained, he had EATEN her barn. I got there the next morning, and sure enough a LOT of daylight in that stall......................that was not there when we put him in. He grew, and learned and became one of my best therapy horses for many years before pneumonia claimed his life................................I listen to my vets, over decades I know they will not just give up on an animal..............he was just going to suffer, and die, or he was going to be put down and die. It is a hard lesson to learn, but part of life, and part of equine therapy that most programs do NOT let their riders learn. God bless your son..............horses helped not just my sons through their Mom being horribly disabled, but also my adopted daughter through the death of one of her real parents, and the prison sentence of the other...........................she was left to me in a will. She is now an adult, a Mom and a great Mom to many other children as she teaches their Moms to be better parents. and it all came from her loving relationship with a little misshapen dwarf horse named Queenie that I rescued from the slaughter sale.
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