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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But You Can't Make HIm Drink

I've been going to equine therapy for several weeks now. I have learned some things about horses. For instance, here is an interesting fact. Whenever you get on a horse or lead a horse, you are supposed to be on the horse's left side. The reason is because back in the day when people carried swords, if you were right-handed your sword would be hanging on your left side so you cold reach over and draw it out when you wanted to battle. If they got on the horse from the right side, or led him from the right side, the sword would be against the horse and would get in the way. That is also why people in lots of countries drive on the left side of the road. In the middle ages, people would randomly get in sword fights at any given moment. If you were riding down the road, and someone else was approaching from the opposite direction, they might yank out their sword and stab you. You had to be ready for battle. By riding on the left side of the road, it kept your right hand closest to the other person, in a better position to chop the other person's head off if you had to When buggies and stage coaches and junk got invented, they kept up the left side of the road tradition. When the pilgrims invaded America, I guess they just wanted it to be opposite day so they changed the rules of the road. 

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle! 

Okay, moving on. Besides learning about horses, equine therapy has been more helpful to me than any other therapy I've been in so far! Before, when I was in regular counseling or psychotherapy, I would just sit there and talk with the person, and I always felt so uncomfortable and hyperactive. Because you're sitting on a couch, with a table and a box of Kleenex in front of you, and the therapist is sitting across from you, listening to you intently and taking notes. And I would spend the whole time rocking and stimming and not really getting much out of the experience. The counselor could tell me ways of handling my anxiety, and I would nod, but I wouldn't be able to use them in my real life.

In equine therapy it is totally different. I am standing up and moving around, interacting with a horse. I never feel rocky or stimmy or jumpy at all... I feel a sense of calm as soon as I enter the barn! 

One thing I am working on learning is being more confident and taking charge of my own life, and leadership skills that could help me at work and in the rest of my life. So today it was so nice out, and we were outside instead of in Brownie's stall. Julie (not her real name) asked me to try leading Brownie  with her rope thing. But Brownie was like, "I'm actually just going to stay here and eat hay off the ground, okay?" I pulled gently on the rope and coaxed Brownie to come, but she was gobbling up hay and paying no attention to me. I petted Brownie on her neck and asked her to please come with me, but she was still captivated by the hay. I tried this multiple times, giving the rope a gentle tug and giving the horse a gentle pat. But it didn't work! 

Eventually Julie showed me a better way. She just took the rope, which is around the horse's head, and pulled her head up! Brownie looked a little surprised, but not scared, hurt or mad. 

I was still cautious, but Julie told me it was okay to pull harder on the rope. So I gave the rope a pull with all my strength - which isn't much. And Brownie started following me! I didn't have to keep pulling the whole time as if I was tugging a boat to shore or something. I just gave her one strong pull, and then she walked right next to me. 

As it turned out, since Brownie is a giant horse and not a small dog, when I was giving her gentle tugs on her rope, she didn't really pay much attention to it... it was nothing more than a fly landing on her! When I petted her and talked kindly to her, I was just making her hay-eating time more enjoyable and relaxing. It wasn't until I gave the rope a strong tug, that Brownie even realized I was asking her to walk with me! Once she understood what I was asking her, she walked,.If she stopped, I just gave her another tug to remind her! We walked all around the fenced-in area, twice, together. The first time, I was a little nervous, which may be why Brownie kept stopping. The second time, I was calmer, and more confident that Brownie would follow me, and I guess she was more confident that I was a leader! 

The lesson I started learning was that I have to be stronger. Well, not exactly stronger. See, a lot of my life I've been so worried about saying or doing the wrong thing and causing the world to come crashing down, so I ended up not saying or doing anything. I'm often in the background of someone else's life, trying to do damage control for them, instead of moving forward in my own life. In a way, I am often invisible. I have to learn to start actually pushing and pulling and existing in the world. 

It could also be a lesson in working with kids. I've been told a lot that I'm not firm enough with the kids. And it is probably true that, in some of the places I've worked, people were more strict and harsh with the kids than necessary, but on the other hand I'm sometimes too quiet and gentle with them. What they need is just a firm tug and a confident leader. 

Okay. So I have to go play Odd Socks on Facebook do something really important. But until I write again, here, for no real reason, is a picture of a mama horse and a baby horse!





11 comments :

  1. I am SO proud of you!!! And fun to be around horses too. I used to be able to ride and it was exhilarating. I think this is one of the best things you've ever done. Can I come too????

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    1. I wish you could come! If you ever come out here I'll see if you can come with and see my horse friend! Nobody can ride her right now because her leg is injured... but maybe someday I'll learn to ride too!

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  2. I am so excited for you! The equine therapy sounds amazing - so peaceful and relaxing.

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  3. Your experiences with therapy sound a bit like mine! Equine therapy sounds awesome (and a big improvement on sitting-talking-to-someone therapy) and I'm glad it's going well for you. :)

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  4. Angel - There is a LOT going on on your page! It's cool, but I was distracted as my Mom was reading your blog to me! I need to learn to pay attention more!
    I think equine therapy sounds pretty cool! I'm doing physical and speech therapy. And ballet is kinda therapy too. My sister likes horses. I like them but I'm sorta scared of them.
    Thank you for reading my blog! It's nice to know when someone is paying attention. Adios! William from wcbenz.blogspot.com

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    1. Sorry my page is kind of distracting! I know there is a lot going on here... I really like colorful things and things that move, so I put a lot on my blog. But maybe I should tone it down a little, so others don't get dizzy from trying to read it! :)

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  5. good luck finding more strength!!

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  6. I've never heard of equine therapy! I've been to regular therapy and for the most part it's pretty awkward for me. Although I did have one therapist I really liked.

    I love horses and horseback riding so I hope to hear more about your new experiences!

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  7. Wow, that's super interesting about the swords! I'm glad you're enjoying this!

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  8. It sounds like there's a lot of very positive energy in that barn. Good for you, for Julie and for Brownie. Of course, you're the one with the heaviest lifting to do, but your attitude is so good and strong I have no doubt you'll succeed.

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  9. I'm so glad you are enjoying equine therapy, Angel! I have heard such good things about it and am so glad to read about your personal experience. Great lessons and great post, as usual!!

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