WOAH TO GO

The Tribune (NZ) - - INSIGHT - with Arthur Yeo

The last time I fell off a horse, hurt. I was on a back coun­try airstrip rid­ing with about 20 oth­ers, and it had been a long hot day. As it ap­proached lunchtime, ev­ery­one’s spir­its were flag­ging and the horses, who had just car­ried us up a long, quite steep in­cline, had their heads down and were look­ing for a rest and some wa­ter them­selves. I looked around, a lit­tle bored, re­alised ev­ery­one else was in the same mood so, in the spirit of com­mu­nity ser­vice provider, de­cided to liven things up a bit.

My plan was to lay over my horse, as if I was an out­law be­ing dragged back to the jail­house by the sher­iff, and in the process of putting my left leg over the horse, who I hadn’t warned of the move, caught it on the sad­dle bag which caused me to sharply rap poor old Cochise, said horse, in the bum with the heel of my boot. You can prob­a­bly imag­ine the rest, but here’s the pic­ture any­way…

For Cochise to widen both eyes and nos­trils si­mul­ta­ne­ously, lift his head, and start a head-long rush up the hard, slightly stoney airstrip, was for him the work of a mo­ment. In fact, in all the miles I had rid­den him, he had never re­acted so quickly. In one leap for­ward he dis­lodged me, and I found my­self rid­ing on his rear with my hands on one of his reins, fac­ing to the side with both my legs on his left side. I know it hap­pened very quickly, but I found my­self mar­vel­ling at the de­tail in my com­pan­ion’s sad­dle bag on the horse next to me, and see­ing the grow­ing look of hor­ror on her face as I sped past. The feel­ing of dan­ger and doom started to seep through me as the horse made suc­ces­sive lunges through the rest of the star­tled rid­ers, start­ing from my toes and end­ing up with me shout­ing to my­self in my head, ‘This isn’t go­ing to be good!’

I knew I had to get back into the sad­dle, so I started haul­ing my way for­ward. Cochise, very alert to any sub­tle change I made, was ready with more leaps for­ward and a cou­ple of king size bucks thrown in for good mea­sure. This was what un­did both my hold and re­solve to make it back to the sad­dle, and when he threw a side­ways shimmy into the 3rd buck, I lost all con­tact with my wide awake, nos­tril flar­ing warhorse. I be­gan the for­ward, in­glo­ri­ous dis­mount, which is what I pre­fer to call it. Parts of my life drifted by as it seemed to be tak­ing an age. I looked at the short, dry grass I was about to meet and thought, this is go­ing to hurt. I put an arm for­ward to pro­tect my head, and slid along the ground for about 10 me­ters be­fore I came to a stop. I lay still for a mo­ment and lis­tened to my heart thump­ing in my ears. There was no pain surge, so I quickly got up and bowed to ev­ery­one as if I had planned the whole thing. One or two peo­ple were fight­ing to con­trol their horses who thought they had to run, but most peo­ple were laugh­ing their heads off. It was then that I re­alised I couldn’t breathe. I was acutely winded. I stag­gered over to my horse, who had stopped the mo­ment I left his com­pany and was eat­ing grass as if noth­ing had hap­pened, grabbed my puffer and gained my breath back.

What to do now? I sim­ply picked up the reins and got back on my horse, and rode off a much wiser rider.

When kids learn they of­ten fail. The kids that can pick them­selves up and ‘get back on the horse’ are the ones who de­velop prob­lem solv­ing skills. Can your child prob­lem solve? Are they scared of fail­ing or do the see it as part of learn­ing? We can help them de­velop this nec­es­sary learn­ing skill.

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