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The bright spring days and crocuses pushing out have lifted spirits both human and equine here at Dusty Dog Farm.

In a formal welcome of spring, Cooper's Crossroad Farming For Resilience program started up a 12 week program with Ashwelot Valley Academy students on March 10.

I have been looking forward to co facilitating this program so much. Dreaming about it, day and night. I find myself mentally practicing the material as I walk my daily life path. How to teach effectively the core values of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion with horses and the farm is on my mind most of my waking hours. It should not come as a huge surprise that I find myself strengthened by my own practice of these values, and my teaching of it. It has changed the way I see the world. It has changed the way I interact with the world. All so positive. Now I am driven to share that knowledge.

The 12 week curriculum begin with sessions titled "Compassionate Communication", "Compassionate Connection" and "Compassionate Care". I like to introduce compassion by trying to understand the horse. By trying to "learn their language" we can be compassionate with them and communicate with them better. By communicating with compassion we are able to connect with the horse deeply and care for them in the healthiest way possible. (I aim to do this, somethings successfully, with both two and four legged creatures).

The participants have been introduced to the basics of "horse speak" and being safe around large animals. This mindfulness observation and engagement with horses allows for a compassionate partnership to develop between horse and human. Then as participants work with their horses, I invite them to practice their new found understanding and communication with the horses. Building blocks of compassion and communication start in places like this.

One does not need to look hard to find the need for compassion in our day to day lives. Teaching these core values with the help of equine friends is a gift that gives and gives. Even in the three weeks, I see compassion in the participants smiles, increase in involvement and confidence, excitement and joy. I hope that the program offers a path to participants to "take in" the values of courage, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness, building resilience for the years to come.

March 21 CCR hosted a "Luck of the Irish" fundraising event. A beautiful Sunday afternoon offered the visitors an opportunity to listen to great, live Irish music, take a "shamrock scavenger hunt" in part of the forest on the farm, and play "cow plop bingo" (yes, it is a real thing!). My heart was happy to see compassion, courage, gratitude and forgiveness highlighted on the shamrocks.

Just think, if EVERYONE had even a glimpse of how compassion, courage, forgiveness and gratitude could change their lives.

Enjoy the surge of spring.

All my best, Christina

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