When partnering children with horses, it is only natural that there is a high level of excitement. Because of this, we recognize the importance of taking our time to go through the safety lessons and properly prepare a child for their upcoming horse encounters. Regardless of how mindful and prepared we are, sessions can quickly spiral out of control as a child is overwhelmed with excitement to work with their new four legged friend. Children, in general, are impulsive. Children with early developmental trauma have exacerbated impulsivity, due to their inability to regulate their bodies when faced with environmental stimulants. The Stable Moments™ approach allows each child their experience. Mentors following the model understand that it is their job to recognize the difficulties of self regulation and offer a fun and engaging activity to demonstrate just how we might slow our bodies down. One activity we use to promote self regulation is, By a Thread. By a thread has the child lead the horse through obstacles using only a thread. If the thread breaks they need to start over.
We have all experienced the kid that comes to the barn, thinks they need no training and nearly rips the horses head off by wanting them to trot within the first 30 seconds. This activity is designed to help facilitate a "pause" before taking off and rushing through. It is a good idea to use the activity instructions to have a conversation with a child about how they are going to execute leading by only a piece of thread. Allow the child to offer up their plan. Get curious by asking some questions.
Where will they do the activity? Is there anything that needs to be set up? How will you get the horse to the area to start?
Questions like these develop critical thinking skills. It promotes the process of thinking before you act, reducing impulsivity and developing executive functioning. By a Thread not only promotes self regulation, but it builds attention span, develops self confidence and allows a child to enjoy the actual process of partnership!