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The Challenges of Rearing a Child
We all want our children to grow up to be
- well adjusted,
- comfortable with themselves and the world around
- able to support themselves financially as adults
- able to choose other people in their lives who
are good for them.
This task is not easy.
On the one hand, both human and electronic babysitters (TV,
toys, games) are available to young children. If we as
parents, however, do not provide resources at an early age
that allow the child to develop
- a sense of mastery,
- a feeling of uniqueness and
- the ability to make wise decisions;
adolescence can be a rootless and rebellious time. It
can be a time when a teenager makes decisions that thwart further
educational advancement to a self-sufficient adulthood.
Children Who Love Horses
Some people are born loving animals. Some are born loving
horses. For these children, Centaur Rising (CR) is a
logical choice for helping to establish a correct foundation
in early childhood. We are not talking about recreational
horseback riding. CR is very serious about promoting
the following qualities.
We encourage children who demonstrate a love of horses to
start riding lessons as soon as they can hold the reins and
follow instructions. Learning to ride a horse before
one is old enough to go to school helps the child develop the neurological
pathways that aid balance and eventual timing of the aids. This
is much easier to learn at a young age than when one becomes
an older child or adult. CR’s horses and instructors
have successfully taught pre-schoolers since 1992. Pre-school
is often a difficult time for parents to establish appropriate
expectations for any child. Pre-schoolers blossom through
the empowerment that comes from actually controlling a horse.
When a child first comes to Horse Camp or riding lessons,
he/she often appears distracted. Lack of focus will not
work when it comes to managing a large horse. Children
quickly respond to admonitions about horse
safety and correct
horse handling. They get instant feedback (from the instructor
and from the horse). They thrive on their successes.
Many people dream of riding a horse but encounter fear when
a horse “goes too fast” or when they fall for the
first time. Even experienced riders must learn to confront
their fears from time to time. CR helps people to work through
these inevitable times. Mustering the courage to "get back on the horse" can be remembered when the child faces future life challenges.
Our “instant-gratification” society provides
many options that do not require perseverance, hard work and
attention to detail. CR helps to “ground” youth
by providing reinforcement for a long-term job done well.
Children who love animals often lack assertiveness. It
is very difficult to develop a partnership with a horse if
one is not assertive. CR teaches youth that effective
horseback riding requires a balance of being firm, being consistent
and rewarding correct behavior. These lessons are easily
transferred to future parenting and the eventual supervision
of other humans. They bring balance, courage and effectiveness
to an otherwise shy child.
The discipline of dressage puts extra requirements on a rider
of any age. He/she must develop his/her own body such
that he/she is sufficiently balanced and supple to not adversely
affect the horse and to ultimately give the correct and properly
timed aids. Seat
lessons help develop balance, coordination,
courage, body symmetry and timing.
Consistent with Centaur Rising’s mission of preventing
horse neglect, children at CR learn the responsibilities of
horse care. Horse Camp is especially helpful here.
Unlike many other equestrian pursuits, CR teaches compassion. This
is first applied to the horse. Later when the more advanced
equestrian student learns to teach others, compassion is also
extended to fellow human beings.
We should not lose sight of the fact that life can be very
challenging for children. CR provides the structure,
welcoming community and positive social network to help a child
weather difficult times. After
School at the Stable is
especially helpful here.
There is nothing like correct dressage training to develop
physical and emotional sensitivity. We teach riders to
feel the horse with their whole bodies, to determine what the
horse is experiencing emotionally and to sense how the horse
is developing as an athlete. What better way can there
be to allow a person to become more attuned to himself, to
nature and to others?
Unlike a machine that has been specifically engineered to
serve humans, a horse is a creature of nature – subject to
his own tendencies and emotions. A horse may not be
the same from one day to the next. The student must identify
the problem and adjust his own behavior to the situation. Training
of a horse teaches patience, perseverance, consistency,
empathy and the wisdom of discerning "when to ask for more" and "when to
The problem solving one learns as a trainer is later extended
to humans when the advanced juvenile student learns
how to teach and supervise others. Horse camp, in particular,
gives students the opportunity to work in teams to plan, execute
and evaluate outcomes. No human can be truly effective
without working well with others.
Communication with a horse takes many forms. Communicating
with a human is in some ways more complicated. When advanced
juvenile students learn how
to teach less experienced riders,
they develop the skills of analyzing the situation, being alert
to danger, reading the emotions of both horse and rider; projecting
one’s voice; dissolving fear, frustration and anger;
working as a team; and explaining things in many ways – through
voice, touch and demonstration.
All horses, like people, are different. CR gives students
the skills to adapt to different needs and problems and to
value all kinds of people and all kinds of horses.
CR intends to use extensive formal program evaluation to insure that we are in fact accomplishing
what we say we are doing. Shortcomings will be identified
and rectified. This process will be enhanced by the fact that the founder of CR does have PhD level training in this area.
Special Needs and Scholarships
Sometimes the children who can best benefit from CR’s
programs are the ones whose families can least afford the cost
of the program. Centaur Rising as a non-profit 501(c)(3)
organization intends, on the one hand, to identify worthy recipients and, on the other hand, to solicit donors to sponsor scholarships for equine study. Do not be discouraged if you know of
a child who can benefit from our programs but does not have
the means to afford it. CR accepts children of all races,
religions, backgrounds and many handicapping conditions.
check out our programs and our other Missions.