By: Christina Thomas, Program Manager
It was my first year as Riding Director at camp Misty Hollow, about halfway through the season so I had a pretty good grasp on the stable’s horses and my staff. Within the subject of horses and horseback riding, I would say 98% of girls are excited, anxious and enthused to be riding, grooming and otherwise “loving” on any horse within reach, which made for the job of Riding Director a great pleasure. The other 2% however, can be, well, challenging. This remaining percentile is scared, nervous, shy, and sometimes downright petrified of horses. On this particular day, the troop visiting the barn contained one of those 2%’ers, and her name was Anna. I could tell immediately that Anna was going to be a tough one to convince at participating, let alone riding. She stood in the back of the line at attendance and rules review, sat in the back of the seats for handling instruction and would only make eye contact for a brief moment and then look away to the ground or outside the barn. Luckily for Anna, we had the piece of the puzzle that she needed to be successful in the barn that day.
He was a rich chestnut brown, with three blaze white socks, about 14 hands, a stocky pony by all accounts of the word and his name was Puzzle. Puzzle was one of our most trusted steeds, his face whitened with age, and his eye softened with the patience and love he grew to desire of all children. Puzzle was the golden retriever of horses. He was always ever so kind, gentle, quiet and trusting that shy children naturally drew to him. Upon Anna’s request not to groom because she was scared, I introduced her to Puzzle. It took some support and convincing from my staff, her troop friends and Puzzle, but she finally gave in to softly stroking Puzzle’s side with a small brush. After a couple of minutes, anyone could tell Puzzle had worked his graceful magic on yet another child as Anna willfully walked around Puzzle brushing every square inch of him, without a care or concern in the world. Then it came time for the group to ride. Anna had just began to feel comfortable grooming, now I have to ask her to sit on one of these giant creatures she was just minutes ago scared of?
After a short conversation, it was decided that Anna would “try” riding, but only with Puzzle. Puzzle, a true test of his character, stood calmly as I saddled him, and peacefully followed Anna and myself to the arena. Anna and the rest of her group were given instruction, and off they went for circles around the inside of the arena, with no doubt in my mind that Puzzle would carry Anna with unfaltering skill like he had done so many times before. Before I knew it, Anna was guiding Puzzle around the arena without assistance, and the smile on her face was unremarkable. I will never, in my life, forget the way I felt seeing Anna work with Puzzle, nor Puzzle’s magic and love he had for children. I remember reflecting at the end of that day and saying to myself; “if I could do what I did today, once a week, every week; think of the lives I would change!”
For many of us the revolution of the calendar brings about changes, new directives and the brightness of a shiny new years’ worth of potential. What are your New Year’s goals? Maybe it’s to shed a few of those misplaced pounds? Take a class to learn something new? Shave down the debt that’s accumulated? No matter what your objectives for 2015 are it’s obvious that the start up of a new year brings reflection and a means for change.
What if your New Year goals included things like: illustrating to youth the importance and influence of courage, confidence and character? Showing girls they can do anything they set their minds to? Growing smiles and memories on the faces of young ladies in your community? What would your 2015 look like if your New Year’s resolutions focused around the emphasis of helping others? Think of the change you could bring about, the feeling of accomplishment and achievement that would result from your work.
Girl Scouts can offer all of the above for you, your family, and your friends! Are you currently a registered Girl Scout? Maybe you should be if you’d like to help in the fight to bring better lives and skill sets to girls around the world. Being a volunteer for Girl Scouts doesn’t mean you have to lead a troop. We need adults to help facilitate programs, mentor girls, act as community partners with businesses and organizations, train/assist other adult volunteers, the list goes on and on…but so do the benefits! Already a fantastically valued volunteer, why not convince your colleagues, friends or husband to join? Yes, that’s right; we appreciate the influential men in girls’ lives, just as much as women.
So, what are your New Year’s resolutions now?