The Wisdom of a Horse

The Wisdom of a Horse

My youngest child is drawn to animals.  He is the epitome of an animal lover.  Thus, I was not surprised when he wanted to go horseback riding at a young age.  When he turned 6, he used his birthday money to go to the barn at a local park and ride a horse.  He was a little guy-not only because he was six, but he was a small 6 year old.  He strode right into the barn and requested to ride Tonka-a draft horse, the largest horse in the barn.  Unfortunately, Tonka does not fair well in the arena so Tonka was not an option.  However, the lady at the barn offered Parks another option-Belle, another draft horse.

He cherished every minute with Belle.  This experienced sparked something inside him.  We then found a barn that would allow him to ride and take informal lessons.  He did well until he didn’t.  There came a time when he just continuously became frustrated at riding.  It was too soon.

For his eighth birthday, Parks asked if he could attempt riding again.  I took a new approach this time.  I agreed to set up lessons if he would agree to work on confidence, self control and impulse control when with the horses.  He agreed and off we went.  He started in the little arena with a lovely horse.  He rode confidently.  He is now only five weeks into his lessons and each week he amazes me.  When we arrive at the barn, he is able to get his horse from the pasture, brush him, saddle him and ride with minimal assistance.

He is learning about how to communicate without using words.  He is learning the importance of “willing” the horse to trot and to work with him.  He remains calm around the horses.  He is gentle and caring.  He knows that he and the horse must trust each other.  I am not sure why my youngest felt the need for horses in his life, but I am forever grateful. The horses can teach him things that I have not been able to in a way that works for him.

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Peace Education

“Peace education is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment.” Wikipedia

Peace education occurs daily in our household.  For the most part, everyone gets along.  However, let’s face it-we are together ALL THE TIME!  On a daily basis, we try to use our words to maintain peace within the household.  Everyone is aware that when the “rules” of the house are followed, peace is maintained.  It is those times when someone feels that someone else has performed an injustice to the household, another person or the world that the harmony quickly disappears.

When the kiddos went to Montessori school, they were taught to have a peace conference.  The child who feels hurt or who is upset gets the peace rose and hands it to the other person or persons.  They then go to a neutral spot and have a peace conference.  This is a discussion in which each side may speak how they feel and what they think happened.  (I find this to be an awesome activity-if only everyone in the world could do this!)

Unfortunately, I think at home we get into a rut of having them speak at each other instead of with each other.  I noticed this recently.  I had the kids stop speaking at each other, turn towards each other and to speak in a normal tone WITH the other person.  The funny thing was that they both immediately started giggling.  Argument over.  🙂

Unfortunately, I have one kiddo who is in a constant battle with the world.  He struggles to find happiness in the world.  So how do you teach peace education to someone who’s instict is violence and negativity?  In my heart, I know that he does not want to feel this way.  Most of the time, his outward expressions are happy and loving but they can change very quickly.

He has taught me more about peace education than any book or experience so far.  I must model how to react to situations (such as when you drop an entire container of yogurt on the floor and you want to scream, but you don’t).  I must remain calm and not become engaged when he wants to argue and speak negatively about the world.  Is this difficult?  Absolutely.  My other kids have had to learn this method also.  Amazingly, it works well.

I also use books as much as possible.  Some of my favorites are The Lorax, Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, The Lion and the Mouse, The Goose Girl, Stone Soup, and my newest-Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (All of these titles should be underlined, but I cannot figure out how to do that for some reason).  All three kids enjoyed the Old Turtle and our lessons that followed.

How do you teach your kids about peace?