Kody Perseveres with Help of Boomer
Each month, our lead instructor, Eva, picks a student for our “Blue Ribbon Moment.” A “Blue Ribbon Moment” represents an achievement, both small and large made by one of our students.
Fall is the season of change. The weather gets cooler and the leaves start to change color. Many of us embrace it. Yet there is always some sadness associated with change, and sometimes even fear. What will the change bring? Well, at Great Oak we also just experienced some change. One of our herd, Boomer, left us to return to his owner and to start a new job. For Boomer this is exciting, he will be happy, and we look forward to seeing him around town, perhaps as a Volunteer Mounted Police horse.
For our students, however, change brings anxiety and worry. Our Blue Ribbon Rider this month is Kody. Kody joined us at Great Oak initially as a volunteer, helping us around the barn. Cleaning stalls, cleaning the aisle, helping to make the feed for the horses, and any other task other than handling the horses. Kody, like many young people today, struggles with anxiety. His goal was to find something he enjoys and to learn a new skill that could translate into work. After a few months, Kody became more confident and was enjoying his work at Great Oak. We began talking about the possibility of him riding. He expressed a fear of horses. Time passed, then one day Kody approached me (Eva) and said he would like to ride. So, it began. His initial goal was to find something he enjoyed but also to try something new and to overcome his fear of horses. Soon he set a new goal. He wanted to improve his posture.
Kody began riding Boomer. Boomer is a wonderful horse who has taught many students many things, but he is also a challenging horse in that he demands that you know what you want. Kody connected with him and worked hard on building a relationship with Boomer. Kody also worked very hard on his posture. Boomer challenged him almost every day and Kody rose to the challenge. Boomer taught Kody to manage his frustration and to persevere.
However, this story is not so much about Boomer and Kody but about Kody. Kody had to say farewell to Boomer and has had to understand that we, at the moment, don’t have another horse that he can ride. He has had to process that everyone doesn’t always stay around, that change happens, that it is difficult, but can open other doors. That other door for Kody was his first lesson after Boomer had left. I suggested that we do some groundwork and see if Kody could connect to Buddy at liberty. Kody and Buddy walked into the arena and stood in each other’s space with Kody grooming him and quietly talking with him. Kody suggested that Buddy back up a little to offer him more space and Buddy backed up. We worked through some groundwork steps and I then suggested we take off the halter and ask Buddy to join up with Kody and go for a walk around our “large” arena. Kody hesitated and laughed a little.
Kody joined up with Buddy, a 1200 pound horse, who could have chosen to go anywhere in the arena, especially to the barn gate or to any person observing, but he didn’t. He clearly told Kody that he wanted to be with him. That he was there for him through the change that Kody was experiencing. The change gave Kody another opportunity and Kody embraced it. For this Kody gets this month’s Blue Ribbon moment. Good job Kody for overcoming fear and for embracing something new, again and for realizing how wonderful that is.