When we began planning a new grounds program for families this past Summer, all of our trusted therapeutic horses were at the barn in Zanesville. As I looked over the remaining herd at Breaking Free, I decided to start with Smokey. He is our 21 year old Black Tennessee Walker. The grey on his face, a tell-tale sign that he has “been there-done that”. Other than the time spent with Veterans once a week, Smokey spent most of his time in the pasture. As I dragged him up the hill to the outdoor arena that first day, you could tell he had grown content with being left out there. I’m sure in his mind, his days with the kids were over.
My family often teases me about what I’m going to do when all four of our children are in school. They will laugh at the thought of me watching soap operas in my pajamas while finishing off a carton of ice cream. To be honest, the only thought I had seriously had about the next phase in life was finally getting sheets washed on a regular basis. When the opportunity came to become a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, I was beyond excited. This would be a field that combines my love of horses, families and emotional wellness with an organization that truly cares for people and our Equine Partners.
I love reading every book I can find on the subject. I love attending workshops, spending time in the community, working on lesson plans and seeking the advice of other Instructors. I have learned so much in the past year. I wish I could see myself in 5+ years when I have a solid foundation for this work. It’s thrilling to see a glimpse of life past toddlers. Of course, being a stay at home mom is wonderful, rewarding and fulfilling. But in such a time-consuming phase, I had forgotten that it won’t last forever.
Smokey has also found enjoyment in his new role. Now, as we head up the hill to the outdoor arena, there is no more dragging. He knows right where he is going and he is pleased to do whatever we ask of him. His well-aged body doesn’t move quickly but it's a testament to me and the families he partners with to savor moments and be present.
All of our horses will be brushing up on their training, thanks to our newly formed exercise team. I think everyone (horse and human) should continue learning new things. No matter what phase you are in, how old you are or what your role is now, try something new. Keep your mind and your body challenged. Stay passionate.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, gain understanding. Proverbs 4:7