I have been watching horses for over 30 years now, and have recently been watching a new horse get acclimated to new surroundings. Sometimes they have a little trouble getting settled into a new environment and sometimes they just fit right in. It struck me that this is directly related to two things. One, if they understand what is going on and things make sense to them, they are able to settle. Two, if they feel they have choices and are confident in their choices, they settle. When they are confused or feel trapped, they struggle to be peaceful. Then something even bigger struck me. This is the exact same thing we see with the kids.
Kids can manage anxiety and settle in to situations (new and old) when they understand things. Often we see behaviors from kids that are disruptive, but after years of working with struggling kids, I see plainly that they act out in many different ways when the world around them has been unpredictable or non-sensical to them, even if it seems to make sense to others. Kids also fight when they feel they don’t have choices. Everyone likes to feel in control of something.
Take a kid on the Autism Spectrum. He will act out behaviorally when the world around him doesn’t make sense. For him, many things don’t make sense. Then he starts to feel trapped because he feels like no one understands him, and he either shuts down or acts out. By just helping that kid feel heard and understood, and by patiently showing him or explaining to him about things that he doesn’t understand, many of those behaviors can be minimized. This is true for all kids.
It is also true for all horses. If we can help them understand their situation, and give them confidence in their choices, we will see them settle and be peaceful. No wonder horses and kids can have such an impact on each other!