Of Horse

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The Child Whisperer
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The Child Whisperer

When I heard my daughter Janette talk about the problems she was having with the two underprivileged third-graders she was mentoring, I invited her to bring them out to the ranch where I work.

“Well, they’re scared of my golden retriever so they’ll probably be scared of your horse,” Janette responded.

The next day she messaged me that when she asked if they would like to visit the ranch both children were ecstatic.

“Trisha said ‘I’ve never seen a real horse before, that’ll be awesome!’” Janette wrote. “But we’ll see how badly they really want to go. I told them they had to watch their attitudes this week and get ALL of their homework assignments done. They ALWAYS have an incomplete for some reason or other.”

“OK well I’ll be at the ranch Saturday morning either way,” I replied.

Friday evening Janette called to say that for the first time that year both children had finished all of their homework and couldn’t have been better behaved.

Just as I finished my barn chores I saw them drive up. Janette introduced me to little Trisha and her friend Neil. They glanced at me with a quick “hi” but they were all eyes for Sport, the gelding I was grooming.

I’ve been working with horses for twenty years but it was so exciting for me to view Sport through the eyes of two children who until today had never been outside the city limits.

“Do you want to feel his soft muzzle?” I asked. Trisha nodded as Neil hesitated. I guided her hand to pet Sport gently and he pushed his nose into her hand. Her eyes sparkled at the feel of rich velvet on her skin.

“Can I?” Neil said.

I helped him pet Sport and then gave them each a treat to feed him, showing them how to keep their outstretched hands flat. Their grins widened as he accepted one and then the other, following up with a quick lick to Neil’s palm.

“Sport gave you a kiss!” I laughed. “Sport’s kisses are the best.”

They quickly got over their timidity and each took a brush and helped me groom him. They walked beside him, spellbound, as I walked him over to graze on his favorite clover patch.

“My mom says horses are the best secret-keepers,” Janette grinned, as she watched her mentees having the time of their lives.

Trisha looked at me and I nodded. She stepped up to Sport’s head and cupped his left ear to her lips, telling him of all her troubles while he ate away, just like I had already done earlier that morning.

Before we knew it time was up.

“Can we come again?” Trisha asked.

“Any time,” I smiled.

As they called their thanks to me on the way back to the car, Trisha and Neil kept glancing back at Sport. I hugged him tightly around his neck, thanking him myself for shining such light into their not-so-bright world.

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  1. Tanja
    I wish every child could have an opportunity to be with a horse for one day in the little lives. It truly changed my life forever.
  2. jst4horses
    When I was a teen, I volunteered for the camp riding stable that supplied several summer camps with horses. The owner was a professional rodeo champion, who bred and trained rodeo horses. I noticed right away the effect the horses had on the other campers. My friend and I were sent all summer since our parents had to work, we were best horsey friends, and letting us volunteer at the stable kept us out of trouble since doing the same activities week after week became a bit boring and we got into trouble.........I noticed as well how the horses helped my younger son in particular deal with our divorce, and the changes in his family. When I was disabled by Toxic Shock syndrome and learning to walk and talk again, my sons bought me horses to care for, they said at least watching the horses run when I turned them out would help me feel happier since I could no longer jog, let alone run, or ride a horse. Walking itself was still very tricky. I fell a lot. One day around a feisty racing stallion and really badly abused Arabian three year old, and I was really a lot more able to grab on to the fence or the horse and not fall. It was scary. I had been volunteering with my son in performance and racing stables, and then was asked to be the assistant to the Track trainer who trained horse handlers for state licensing. I was volunteering with equine therapy programs, and as I myself got better, realized how much the horses themselves had helped me heal. One day with several of us working with one child who would never leave a sheltered hospital site, I thought THIS could be amazing for a kickstart for kids with issues of several kinds. I did research and found a couple of trainers doing some therapy and literacy programs and began to build my own programs. I have written a book to teach children and teens (it is called an inclusionary book because the pages are often blank so the students can draw pictures, look up on internet, and print out pictures and stories, and learn more about being positive and healing to each other, no matter what our own issues or those of others seem to be. Carousel Horse, also has a screenplay for teens to read and interact with to help teach them concepts of helping each other heal in life, and caring for horses that work for us. In gang abatement programs we refined the program as the probation programs could only bring them out for three hour periods. Some were allowed to come ten times, but many just the one three hour period. I had worked for a Psychologist/lawyer/Commissioner who had designed innovative youth programs in which we had FIVE minutes to get the youths to commit to their own lives and get involved in programs for life learning and life building that would have very little support except to know we were there, and believed in them. These programs helped us form the three hour programs. We had accelerated learning Psychiatrists, psychologists, and special ed teachers, as well as the youth themselves to refine and build these programs. It makes us very proud today to attend meetings or go to graduations and see our old students, social workers, lawyers, teachers, and parents who are very active in changing the lives of their neighborhoods. It really is the horses who heal, not us. And yes, I too wish every child could have even the one opportunity, it does change lives forever. One day at a special riding horse show with many therapy programs I was the horse handler for one group. At the end of the day I was walking a really solid, good horse back to his trailer to unsaddle and put him in for his ride home. An elderly lady approached and asked if she could just pet him. Her whole life dream had been to have a horse, but she had never been able to, kids to raise, etc. I said, OH, this is a special horse, come and ride him. I took her to the disability riding mounting block and helped her on. I walked her around a little until the people she came with arrived to say they had to go. I wondered, did they not see the total joy of this lovely woman? They did not. After she left, I have never forgotten what she told me. For maybe ten minutes of my time, she told me "You have made ALL my life dreams come true". Her eyes were so joyfilled, I knew it was true. I told a friend who had recovered from cancer with her horses' help, and she helped us start a senior and cancer visitation program. We had to recruit volunteers to make sure the horses used AND the tack were ALL super cleaned with antibacterial soaps approved by the cancer doctors...........and we gave those program for FREE. Seniors began to come from senior homes, on the transports, and it was amazing how much those seniors and cancer patients helped to heal our veterans and high risk youths just by sitting there and listening to them talk as they both groomed and fed carrots to horses, who healed, just munching away!
  3. BiologyBrain
    Is there an old saying, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man"? Children can gain much from spending time with horses! Great post. Voted. Please read and vote for mine!

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