August 19 Cooper's Crossroad Farming For Resilience program wrapped up a seven week summer session with 12 students from Ashuelot Valley Academy. The students, ages 13-19, are a talented, bright, and very enthusiastic group. To say that it has been a success honestly feels like an understatement. Students, admistrators, paras, teachers, volunteers, and guests have seen the incredible way that horses can teach us how to have courage and gratitude, how forgiveness feels and how to be compassionate.
Personally, I have been overwhelmed by the "gifts" given to me while faciltating the program. Each week at the conclusion of the session, the volunteers and I sit for a debriefing. We share the stories of strength and steps of growth that we each witness. It is such a joy to hear the voices of volunteers, ages 14-70, share their experiences. We all have gained courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion during these weeks alongside our students. The horses are astounding in their ability to teach these important lessons. Porsha, a beauful bay mare, age 16, who is privately owned and generously donated for the program brings a sweet and warm personality to the lessons. Hot Rod, a dun QH gelding, 17, is a Farming For Resilience veteran. His strong personality and charm can break through to the majority. Tucker, a black QH pony, a small, mightly and engaging commedian can win over a rock. Sammy (aka Crusing King) is a 24 year old former show jumper, orginally from Ireland. He is a gentle giant, ready to bear the weight of fear and anxiety, he gives weekly through his kind and steady ways. Ice, an aged QH gelding, is a constant, tender and quiet guy. His energy calms the most anxious, allowing learning to occur. The equine staff is the highway that the information given to us by The Choose Love organization is delivered on. They, I honor for their inate ability to deliver these messages. As the message of courage "sunk in" over the 7 weeks, lessons of gratitude were highlighted by smiles (!), words of joy, excitement and interest. Forgiveness, rolled in with compassion, came on the tail of the sessions. And as we conclude, the students will leave with these skills wrapped in the memory of grooming horses, feeling the gentle sway of walking on horseback and the sensation of a soft blow on their hands. Hang on to the days of summer. It all ends far too soon. All the best, Christina