Yesterday I came across this article that addressed updating Child Labor Laws in America. And tried desperately to wrap my brain around a logical explanation, why restricting youths from agricultural involvement was a good idea. After a period of extreme frustration with the absurdity of the issue; I settled with the fact at its core, it has nothing to do with exploiting child labor; it had to do with fear–in this case, safety.
It makes a few moments of my past weekend more precious. After explaining the basics of horse psychology to a group of young girls (ages 6 & 10); the youngest and smallest one volunteer to carry a sledge hammer. This was a vital tool needed to loosen and re-sink an iron stake to relocate a pony stallion to a new spot for fresh grazing. The five girls did it all by themselves. As a teacher, I only verbally offered techniques, such as how to loosen the stake and pull it from the ground, and how to lead the stallion–who’d rather bee-line it for the barn—by turning him in a circle to redirect his focus. A slight drizzle fluttered down from sky, so the children took that into account and situated the pony where he could get shelter under the leaves of a deciduous tree. This simple action displayed empathy, follow through and accomplishment for these girls.
During sharing circle around the campfire later that night, many of the children said their favorite moments of the day included being around the horses. Such as, riding the draft horse mare bareback; watching me rescue a horse from a dangerous situation; and moving the pony to a fresh spot of grass. These experiences connected the children with a larger awareness of their surroundings and let them apply the horse psychology and safety I’d taught them at the beginning of our class.
Fear shouldn’t prevent us from living and learning new things. No matter what age.