Students began their day with introductions and some free play in the horse ring with the outdoor education specialist. He later led them in a movement and mindfulness visualization in which they had an opportunity to imagine what it might feel like to be a horse for the day. Students were then divided into three groups and rotated between three different stations focused on natural horsemanship, grooming and an obstacle course. In between stations they got to play, feed the goats and learn about sustainability and our future project converting horse manure to heat and electricity.
At the grooming station, each child had a pampering session with a pony named Belle. As the children took turns brushing Belle’s coat, one of the EquiShui staff gave them lessons on horse anatomy and how they could better connect to and take care of Belle and by extension themselves and others.
At the natural horsemanship station, each child worked with an international equestrian trainer and another pony, Hunter to learn how to communicate and connect with the ponies. During the sessions, each child had an opportunity to learn and apply non-verbal communication skills as a means of building a relationship with Hunter in order to earn trust and respect. These same skills can then be utilized with their parents, friends and in all other human relationships.
At the obstacle course station, an equestrian expert supported each child as they led Piper (another pony) through an obstacle course that included walking a maze and making figure 8s through a narrow pathway. For this activity, the children had to practice mindful attention, becoming aware of their surroundings, and the present moment.
The day ended with an arts session in which the children got to paint and decorate their pictures with the ponies.