To whom it may concern,
At 9 years old myself I was introduced to the wonder of horse riding. During our school holidays my sister and I would spend time on the Farm with the horses – not riding, but grooming, washing them, cleaning out their water and feed bins and tending to their needs in the stable. As I got older I realised that the bond a person shares with a horse is truly magical. There is almost a type therapy about them in the way they smell, move, breath and mostly accept. The rhythmic way in which they move and breathe brings about a melodious calmness especially when a rider/handler moves in synch with such a creature. Which is why, when I was approached by Equinox last year to select a few children for their programme I eagerly accepted because I know what my time with the horses did for me growing up and I knew it could only better the way these children relate to the outside world.
I chose 3 girls who live in Masiphumelele. Their home lives are not ideal as there is little support for them in the home or regarding their school work. They kept very much to themselves. Always sitting together at break chatting to each other in isiXhosa not really opening up to allow others in. when they began their sessions with Sarah and Nicola the children assumed the same roles as I saw in the class room. One taking charge, one following and one very reluctant. But with careful facilitation Sarah and Nicola worked with this dynamic and things slowly started to shift. It was in the middle of their first 8 week sessions when I asked one of my girls, “How was the horses?” to which she replied, “I think he is sick because he wasn’t listening.” Of course I said nothing as I think it is wonderful to use the horse as a metaphor for how one relates to the outside world. All I replied was, “Oh dear, I hope he is better next week.” The next week came and I asked the same question but this time the answer was different. She replied, “He wasn’t sick…I just wasn’t asking him right.” How wonderful it is for to come up with that answer on her own.
The children went for their follow up session this year. It was only 2 of them as one of the girls moved schools. This year I have seen the biggest shift. The girls have widened their friendship circle and have welcomed the whole class to be with them. They can interact with clearer thought and can articulate better how they feel without feeling vulnerable. There is definitely a softening to both of them and more of a kindness. There is more of a want to do things rather than the reluctance I used to experience before.
It was truly a privilege for my girls to be given tools for the rest of their lives through nature and animals.