Let's end 2014 with some positive thinking. I am fortunate to work with Cal Middleton at Smithville Primary Elementary this year. His background includes horse training, but due to a back injury, he has taken a full-time position working with a student. I know Cal as a smiling, patient, and caring adult in our building. He always has a book in hand that will better his craft and a kind word to share with any student or adult he meets.
The following piece was written by Cal and is posted here with his permission. (My first guest blogger!!) As we pause for the holidays, this is a great reminder to share the best of ourselves with those we teach and love everyday. Thanks, Cal, for these thoughts and friendly reminders to smile, keep life in perspective, and stay positive. Happy holidays!
By: Cal Middleton
One sure fire idea I have learned over the years is the idea of staying positive while working with your horse. Positivity is powerful in many ways, and is a very under used tool when working with any animal. We all know that horses, cattle, dogs, and other animals as well as people, definitely respond to the energy of others. If you didn't know this, now you do. Energy flows from us freely to those around us, just as it does from us to a horse or to another pet. So, knowing that energy is flowing directly from you to those horses and people around you, you better make sure it's the energy that you want them to absorb and grow from. I've met so many people on planes over the years of traveling. I tell them what I do and they all have a similar story, "I rode a horse once, and he ran me into a tree, I think he knew I was scared of him". The truth is that the horse didn't know anything of the sort, but the horse sure responded to the nervous and anxious energy that the rider was emitting. Be sure your energy is positive rather than negative.
THEORY: Why is positivity important? Training young horses, just as teaching children; is about ideas, emotions, attitude and energy just as much as it is about the turning, stopping, math or reading. They have to learn to focus on good things to end up good. A child, just like a horse, will not learn correctly when consistently scared, mad, or in a bad mood. They must be in a teachable mentality in order to actually learn something. That trainable frame of mind that we want them to be in, first has to start with us as the trainer/teacher. If the teacher scolds the class before each subject matter, the chances of actual learning drops tremendously. If you get your horse out each day and start off by spanking him around and you get after him for each maneuver that he's struggling with, it won't be long until he quits trying. Even if you get him "trained", he will not be a horse you can count on and trust consistently. Instilling fear in a horse or a child is never a good thing. We have to learn to use positive energy rather than negative to train our horses. We must embrace the philosophy of helping our horses rather than correcting them. Focus on what you want instead of what you’re getting. Tell them what to do, rather than what not to do. Direction NOT Correction.
Also remember, when an animal is frustrated, mad, scared, etc, back down a step, be sure to take a deep breath and control YOUR emotions first. Stay calm, move slowly and visualize the outcome that you are striving for. Just like a child, our animals learn to handle their emotions by the way we handle OUR emotions, as well as by the way we handle theirs. In short, keep your energy positive
If you’re like me, money is tight this time of year, and sharing a gift with everyone I know would be great, but a little impractical. If only there was something I could share with all of my family and friends, as well as my animals, that didn't cost much and would help keep me as well as everyone around me in a great mood, and would last longer than any other gift; something that isn’t full of calories, something that makes a great impact and is easily passed on again and again. Oh wait, I've got an idea....... how about positivity? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Until next time, ride smarter, not harder. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. More info at www.calmiddleton.com.