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Making a Thought

I recently read “every system of thought must have a starting point.” Our thoughts appear in our minds. How does this happen? When I work with students, I make it clear that I do not know. I share my thoughts with them, then wait to hear their thoughts.

Wonder and beauty enter my work with horses and children, but never randomly. I have a new four-year-old student who has sensory issues. For him, the horse is intimidating. And for good reason! — he is approximately 1/16 the size of Tully the pony. This is a big animal when you are that size. Yet, my student is willing to try new things that I suggest.

I shared this thought: “would you like to feed Tully?” My student liked this thought. He made it his own. He became curious. Sharing food is possibly the oldest ritual known to humans. Thousand of years ago, some crazy human put down his weapon and figured out that instead of killing the creature, he could share some food with it. They eventually became partners. Today, this is the foundation for “training” animals.

My student and I went to get a flake of hay for Tully. Again, size becomes a limiting factor. We decided a flake was too much to carry, so he took a quarter of a flake to the stall. When he held the hay in his arms, my student came alive. He sensed that this was an important duty. This was not a treat, this was food. He was doing what the adults do. He walked with purpose carrying the hay to Tully.

Tully took a mouthful. The hook was set. My student caught a fish, an 800 pound fish with four legs. And Tully caught a young boy.

How did this thought start? I don’t know. I had a few discussions with the boy’s mother after our first lesson. From this conversation, I knew movement, interactions, and options were important. Grooming is still scary for the student. Riding is not the objective.

The objective is to let the boy discover his thoughts and that starting point. My role is to be present and witness the light. The error is to make the thought for him. You know what I mean? It is subtle. It is not the top-down approach of teaching. Many days I question what I am doing. If the student wants to return for another lesson, then I feel I did my job.

So what do you do? Let go of making the thought.

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