Achieving success in any endeavor depends on the ability to set and accomplish goals. Though I have not always appreciated the value of this maxim, I can now confidently confess that I live by it. Ironically, I did not garner such insights from my experience as a student, but rather it was my experience as a teacher that taught me the virtue of hard work and patience.
Equine therapy is a non-traditional form of treatment that produces incredible results for the participants involved. Though I had done research about such therapy before, I did not anticipate the drastic affect the program would have not only on the patients, but on myself as well. Equine therapy consists of teaching the participants to successfully ride and work with horses, which is no easy task for anyone. The results were all the more inspiring because all of my students had various disorders such as ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, Autism and Tourettes.
Initially, it seemed as if I was making very little progress with my students, as their conditions made teaching the skills necessary to effectively work with a horse a challenge. It was after almost two months of demanding and painstaking diligence, that many of the caretakers of the patients began to notice positive differences in their academic performance. Excited by the good news, I set out to work with my group towards the end of the year “horse show”. The maneuvers the students had to execute appear simple at first glance, however the successful completion of the motions was incredibly admirable due to the their conditions. Every individual I taught during the therapy was able to steer and direct his or her horse through various obstacles. The obstacles involved weaving through cones, and as well directing the horses through various gaits. The students were able to ask their horses to stop, walk, trot, and even back up on command. As an additional testament to their dedication and perseverance, by the time the end of the year rolled around, all of the patients had improved their report cards by at least a letter grade, and there were many who had gone up by two.
I take the most pride in the dramatic improvement in the ability of my students to listen and understand instructions, then apply them to the task at hand. These achievements greatly assisted the individuals in developing life skills through imparting the confidence necessary to press forward and achieve their goals. Little did I know that during this process not only was I assisting my students in attaining their goals, but they were teaching me various skills and lessons that would drive me to succeed as well.
As a result of the time-consuming and diligent nature of the process, I developed patience. Watching my students’ determination as they strove for greatness, regardless of any obstacles they may have had to overcome, inspired me to use that same tenacity to achieve success in my own life. It was with the delicate balance of patience and determination that I was able to aspire to write an honor’s thesis and participate in the University Scholars Program, where I conduct extensive research with a respected and knowledgeable professor.
It was only after achieving such academic success, that I truly realized the impact my students had on me. It is easy to take for granted the ability to complete the simple tasks of life, without realizing that we limit ourselves by what we categorize as simple. For my students, learning those “simple” tasks represented summits that required an extra effort to reach. Successfully working with an animal that has a mind of its own might seem like a near impossible task to most, yet because of my students’ steadfast determination and positive attitudes, they were able to endure and persevere. They were able to achieve what most people would deem beyond the bounds of reality.
Upon considering my application to the University Scholars Program, I was intimidated by the prospect of such intensive and arduous research. But I reminded myself of the lessons I had learned from my students. If I was to truly test my drive and perseverance, I had to set my ambitions high. I applied these lessons during the taxing process of researching and producing a professional research paper. The procedure of writing an honor’s thesis takes great diligence and work ethic in order to produce a viable and respected product. I am achieving these goals because I have the ability to work towards something that challenges my abilities.
The process of equine therapy also taught me strong communication skills. Due to the range of disorders within my therapy group, I was taught to adapt to each individual. The ages of the patients ranged from six years old to twenty-one years old. Such a vast range of ages also allowed me to adapt my teaching abilities in a number of different ways. While some students were visual learners, and required me to show them certain maneuvers, others learned better by listening to me explain them. As a result, I am able to adapt to a wide array of people, and communicate clearly and effectively, whether it be my peers or my professors.
Occasionally we may embark unto certain tasks with the sole intent of helping others, but are unaware we are getting back just as much as we give. I am still involved in equine therapy programs, which continue to develop and polish many life skills even today. In the ten years I have been involved so far, I have been able to achieve so much in my academic career. I can't help but attribute a great deal of my accomplishments to the special individuals who I taught the therapeutic skill of riding horses. For they gave back to me a set of skills that reach far beyond patience and the exceptional ability to communicate, but rather diffuse into every area of my life.
Last edited by alee on Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.