Many folks do not know what our Farming For Resilience program "looks like from the inside". This week, I thought I would outline just that.
Our Farming For Resilience curriculum braids an equine component in with the "Choose Love" curriculum which teaches courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion in action. These four learning objectives are broken down in to 9/9/9/7 weeks, 34 weeks total...based on the school year. We begin with courage. It takes a lot of courage for people (children in this case) to be close to, tend to, handle, and mount a horse. Large animals are intimidating to most. Downright scary to many. The experience of overcoming fear to connect with these incredible animals, and how that can relate to our lives, is what the first 9 week courage session is all about.
For example, week two of our Farming For Resilience program we teach the participants the "brave breath". This mindful deep breathing exercise is taught on the ground initially. With clear guidance, and wonderful volunteers, the participants are joined with the equine staff, using their brave breathing.
For these sessions I pick a group of wonderful steady eddie equines. This group of horses are literally the back bone of my business (Dusty Dog Farm) and the horses I know the best...many of them I have had for years, been their main care taker, and herd "leader".
1) Hot Rod - although his name suited him when he first arrived at Dusty Dog years ago, he is now one of our most requested members of the equine staff. Sweet, easy on the ground and so so happy doing his job. HR is happy teaching, loves attention and thrives on care giving.
2) Sierra - I think of her as an angel in the equine version. She is the best. At everything. All levels of riders love Sierra. She is so good that I have bred her...due June 2020. It is exciting to be able to wrap Sierra's pregnancy into this years Farming For Resilience program. Much gratitude for the wonders of life.
3) Sammy (aka Crusing King in his show horse life) - an Irish sport horse. And a FABULOUS horse. He has a long and successful career as a show jumper and equitation horse. Starting his life in Ireland, showing in the US and Canada. He is now another gifted equine teacher we are fortunate to have.
4) Dillon - a pony of the cutest kind. A pony first, he has carried kids through the "pony phase" for years. He knows his job, loves the attention and treats all well.
5) Velvet - our token mini. My God daughter broke this mini to ride when she was small enough. He is A TROOPER. Our smallest riders are the envy of the barn....there is nothing cuter on the farm than seeing him under saddle.
6) Tucker - a comfortable and sturdy quarter pony who grew up doing the job. He is Top Dog in his herd. Loves his life. Wears a bitless bridle, understands his job and appreciates the kindness (and treats) that come his way in the work he does.
7) Chief - a relative new comer to the line up. Chief is a natural at the job. Although could use a bit of touch up training, he is a CARE TAKER. Everyone loves him for his quiet disposition, his comfortable gaits and his willingness.
Additional supports include : the co-facilitator of the sessions who works with the children in an on the ground activity to strengthen the learning objective...in this case the brave breath, 8-10 additional volunteers (horse handlers and support staff) and staff that arrives with the students.
We facilitate groups of up to 14.
After welcoming the groups (I love that part as the children are so excited to be at the farm), each horse and horse handler joins with 2 students. Students are paired up as per their teachers. Each pair of students grooms the horses, tacks up the horses and leads the horses. We are mounted in each session. Each student gets a 20 minute lesson. We work on balancing exercises and steering exercises. Students swap after twenty minutes to do the ground activity... for example practicing the brave breath and how we can use it in other areas of our lives. The hour flies by and before we know it, the children are on the bus and gone for the week!
The horses are the champions. The smiles, laugther and education comes through them. They do 99% of the work, just by being.
As Brene Brown say "Courage is contagious"..... Farming For Resilience is bringing courage to many. For this I am grateful.
We need your support!