Breaking Down Barriers
By Xandra Assur
Horses are an incredible gift from God. Their patience and gentleness have the natural ability to break down the barriers kids often put up. At the ranch we repeatedly find that when we tell a child one of the horses’ stories, they have a similar story of their own.
I work regularly with a girl who is 9 years old. Over the years Katelyn and I have built a strong friendship. Sometimes she opens up to me about things that go on at school or with her friends. Recently, she came out for a session and wanted to ride a horse she’d never worked with before. I suggested she try Alula, one of our sweet and quiet, reliable horses.
While we were grooming Alula, Katelyn noticed that the mare had a few scars and marks scattered over her body. She asked me where they came from. I told her that Alula is sometimes picked on within the herd because she doesn’t really stand up for herself; she is pushed around by the other horses.
Taking a closer look at her wounds, Katelyn stopped grooming Alula and began to pet her. She then told me that Alula was like a girl in her class who’s picked on because she’s also afraid to stand up for herself. Katelyn said she tried to befriend the girl who was bullied, but expressed it was difficult because then she also becomes a target for harassment.
Alula’s story sparked something in Katelyn. It provided an opportunity for her to talk about a difficult thing at school that may not have come up otherwise. As her mentor, it gave me the chance to listen and offer support.
We never know what a kid’s time with a horse will uncover. Katelyn’s time with Alula was one more example of how God can use a horse’s story to reach down into the life of a child in a unique and important way.