5 life skills you can learn from horses
Alberta company uses animal's intuition to develop leadership and life skills
Some people looking to take life by the reins are corralling together for a different type of learning — one where the teachers will not be pushed around, but could possibly take a carrot from time to time.
Horses have been at the centre of Calgary-based Equine Connection — an organization that helps corporate teams, women groups and at-risk youth find new life skills — since 2009.
"There's not one human being who's entered these doors who hasn't had some kind of a change," said founder Kari Fulmek. "And it's because we allow the horses to be teachers, versus us human beings teaching the process."
By overcoming challenges together, Fulmek says the 1,200-lb. teachers can show their students how to gallop towards success.
Fulmek says horses demand leadership — someone they trust and respect. In this case, it's to lead them through a series of obstacles.
That requires problem solving and communicating with more than just words.
Leaving anxiety aside
Nervousness can spook a horse, so a calm and cool manner is needed at all times.
"What a prey animal needs is to always feel it's safe," said Fulmek, adding a horse can sense a human heartbeat.
Horses don't criticize or judge. That's something participant Carol Baljet finds helpful.
"I was bullied as a child and it's always been difficult for me to move forward because I've always been afraid people are going to criticize me or say 'don't do that, let someone else do it for you,'" said Baljet.
"They give me the confidence if I can, you know, work with a 1,000-lb. animal, I'm unstoppable."
"Every time I was really getting caught up in doing and not being aware of being mindful … the horse just stopped listening and would go elsewhere," said participant Clarissa Khan.
"So as soon as I was mindful and clear and concise and focused, then I was totally fine."
Being honest and empathic are always good traits to have, even when dealing with horses.
"A horse is always honest, they can't lie. From mere survival alone they're always going to be honest with us," said instructor Carolyn Charles.
"So when we know something is going on within our participant, there's something that can be changed. 'Cause we all have the answers within ourselves. It's really about pinpointing what it is to take that next step. Horses can help us do that. They're constantly responding to the stimulus that we are providing to them."
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With files from Monty Kruger