Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Sunday, 17 January 2016

building an environment for successful learning

So ,here we go again! its been a while but a thinking post is emerging!
I talk a lot about energy and resistance in working with horses, and also in my equine therapy with people. this falls into that area as well as into the area of teaching and learning. Both for horses and people.
What I mean by this is we at least should when working with horses, create an environment of success. Safe area, few distractions (for us) focus and attention to details, and positive energy. We look at the horse for signs of pain or distress, and if none are present we begin our work. Some horses can be very reactive and loose focus easily so we use exercises to build focus and establish leadership. While I say this as if I do it only in the beginning of a session, I am actually "listening" to the horse for cues throughout, checking in often to assure we are still working well together and the horse is still focused , and receptive

One I use is to let the horse loose at liberty in a pen or arena, when they start out the are often moving at their own will some at a walk some flat out. I let them go for a few moments , then I begin to change things.I don't immediately ask for a whoa, rather I subtly change the trajectory of the horse, position myself so then need to go a different way, a few times, then I begin to ask them to slow (once you control the trajectory you gain control of the feet and ultimately the mind) then to stop. When they are able to follow this at liberty , they are focused and ready to learn.
So how do we do this with the people I do therapy with? Often the kids I see have trouble with focus and attention, so am I likely to just toss them into the pen with 1000 lbs of independent thinking and sharp hooves without at least getting their attention? NOPE!
So we walk and we talk, and I LISTEN, I ask them how they are , check in for issues of stress, fear, discomfort (headaches etc) then we do some breathing, slow steady , calming. Then I ask them what they would like to learn work on today. We go through what the client is interested in and while doing this I ask them to think about how that might happen. NO I don't expect them to know the answers, but in bringing that to the front of their mind I have a better chance of controlling their trajectory so to speak, and with that keeping focus and creating a receptive learner.  Again , this is done throughout the session, as things change with people as they do with horses, and "listening to cues " is key with both.

When we look at traditional training and education, none of these things were often in place, in the general sense. "old school trainers and teachers simply taught what they wanted done and expected results. That worked well for many, but not all. would there have been as great a need for "special ed" if the education system had allowed for styles of learning and allowed teachers to "check in " and see if they had lost a receptive learner , or even created that environment to start with? To be fair, there have always been wonderful educators who have done this instinctively and those are the ones we remember and honor as mentors in our lives. I know I certainly was blessed with many.

So putting it together, if I create a positive and receptive horse, and enable the client to be equally positive and receptive, I increase the likelihood of a positive learning experience and successful therapeutic intervention.
Hoping that ramble made sense to everyone. and seeing as it was a bit heavy going for a first blog after the new year, I will toss in a few pics  to lighten us all up.

Stay safe my friends 


Shirley said...

I can see that you have found your calling. I hope it allows you to set up in business for yourself so you can quit your day job.
The photos are priceless! So nice to see Henry and Skeeter being buddies and there's nothing like horse kisses! Love the header photo too.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It is a rare person like you who understands both humans and horses. Most people I've met understand one or the other. I've noticed that when I take lessons, the trainer is almost always focused on either just me or just the horse.

C-ingspots said...

I totally agree with you Sherry. Good horse "trainers" (hate that word!) should always use the same techniques with people and their ponies. Good horsemanship is respectful and cognitive, which works well for both. Love that first photo of our horse sticking his tongue out!!

Cut-N-Jump said...

There are those who can ride, those who can train, those who can coach and those who can teach. Very few are blessed with the talent to do many of those if not all. I think you are well in that mix somewhere. You go girl!

Crystal said...

I like that, I understand the theory but having the patience and the knowledge to ask the human the right question is not something I find easy. Glad you are out there for those that need.

And love the hopping Henry one he's just adorable :)