Tags: Enrichment, Featured Story, Sports
Kids and animals. They usually make great companions and there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for education in these relationships as well.
I jumped at the invitation to get a first-hand look at what our children can learn from pets - specifically ponies.
As we rolled down the long dirt driveway, my son, Dillon, asked where the horses lived. I could tell he was excited, even though he did admit to being just “a little bit” scared. He’s five and has never been on a horse before today.
The arena and barn are nestled in the middle of a Northwest Bakersfield neighborhood. My normally talkative son was quickly awed, and surprisingly quiet, being so close to an animal he’d only seen but in person a few times. We were met by the owner, Lauralea. She showed Dillon how to groom Sally, her twelve year old pony, as she shared with me a few of the ways she has seen the children she works with, benefit from spending time with these creatures.
“There is the obvious stuff like caring for the horses,” she said. “That includes feeding, bathing, grooming, hoof and teeth maintenance and shots. This teaches kids life lessons like patience, tolerance, trust, teamwork and finance.”
Now that Sally was properly groomed, it was time for Dillon to lead her to the arena. I could see his confidence building with every step when he realized that Sally would indeed follow him wherever he led her.
After getting saddled up, the communication lesson began. Dillon was taught the sounds and words that would make Sally walk, trot and come to a stop. What started out as a whisper on his part, became authoritative commands after just twenty minutes in the arena.
Lauralea says it’s her goal to introduce all kinds of children to animals, nature and new loving experiences. She gives riding lessons and also works with children with mental and physical challenges, too.
Her reward is the personal growth she sees and the relationships she nurtures saying, “It’s all about the kids. Hearing vocabulary from children who don’t normally use these types of words is awesome.” Lauralea also hosts an annual horseshow for her students in December and Camp Giddy Up, the first two weeks of summer vacation. For more information on those classes and events, call Lauralea at 808-8528.
As for Dillon, my new little cowboy, the second we got in the car to leave that day, he asked me when WE could get a pony and has been talking about his brief, but powerful experience ever since!