While I was riding Kobi yesterday, I was amazed by the similarities between working with horses and teaching children. Now please keep in mind all of my teaching experience is with children with learning disabilities – so that’s where my background put me, but I’m sure it parallels most children!
1. It doesn’t matter how long or through you’ve been working on a task (whether it’s laterals and lead changes for horses or the differences between the letter /b/ and /d/ for my students – EACH DAY IS A NEW DAY and you must meet the horse or child where they are for the day. This typically requires a complete revision of the days plans, but everyone is happier and less frustrated for it.
2. We don’t have to like each other every day. Emotions run high in all types of animals and ‘liking’ one another is never a requirement, but WE MUST ALWAYS SHOW RESPECT for each other. For the horses, it’s a matter of safety – I’m smaller and much more fragile. For my students, I am an adult and their teacher. Respect is a two-way street, and I will always show respect while I’m getting it – if I’m not, I take it as a teachable moment and address it (see comparison #1).
3. REMAIN PRESENT AND IN THE MOMENT. While it goes back to #2 and respect, I have found if I’m not mentally present while riding, one of us is going to get hurt. If I’m not present while working with my students, I can’t give them what they need educationally or emotionally.
And finally, 4. LOVE WHAT YOU DO. It’s not fair to the horses or the kids if you don’t love the vast majority of time you spend with them. You don’t have to love every minute (see #2), but you have to enter the relationship with that goal in mind.