Look For Bobcats in the Trees

One day we were going on a family horse ride to the Mojave River. During this trip I learned one lesson about learning that will stick with me forever. Here it goes.

My wife and I decided that it was a great day to take the kids and horses out to the Mojave River to just spend some time together as a family and enjoy nature. We saddled up our three horses and our pony. My son Justin was riding the pony. He was probably 7 at the time (I am terrible with ages). Justin is an amazing young man. He has incredible balance and coordination. I have to say that so the rest of the story has some context. Those skills are about to save him.

We are down in the river area. There are a lot of tree’s. All of a sudden our horses simply stop. Justin was looking around so he is a little bit behind. I turned around and saw that Justins pony was stopped as well. I hollered back “Catch-up, buddy.” He gave our pony the command to move forward and she crow hopped. To me it looked like the crow hop was about 10 feet in the air but the reality is probably 6 inches into the air. Justin went flying off the pony. He landed rolled and ended up on his feet. The pony still did not move.

Justin jumped back on (he has always been very resilient). When he jumped back on the saddle loosened and he was on the saddle looking up at the ponies neck. The saddle had spun to the underside of the pony. For those who know horses you know this is a dangerous situation for anyone, let alone a 7 year old. The pony did not move and Justin was able ease onto the ground and get from under the pony.

My wife caught a glimpse of why the horses were acting funny. She looked into near tree line and saw a bobcat. The bobcat is the reason the horses stopped and our pony crow hopped on Justin. We simply backed away from the treeline area and there were no problems.

Lesson - Listen to your learners from what they are saying and what they are showing you. Much of our communication is nonverbal.

Lesson - When everyone stops or gets stuck at a point look for the issue rather than forcing forward motion. You may end up looking at the underside of a horse if you don’t.

Lesson - Check your gear. Often times training budgets are tight. Make sure you have the right tools for the job and they are in good working condition. Improper tools in training can lead to bad habits at the workplace. This can destroy your ROI.

Lesson - The learner wants to do the right thing and will sacrifice to do the right thing. Justin would have been trampled by a pony if the pony gave into its fear over doing what is right.

Take time to look around and see what may be causing the issue rather than assuming it is the learner's problem. Check for Bobcats in the tree line.

By following these simple rules of horse sense you will be able to facilitate a learner's ability to create a relationship with the curriculum and the instructor. When this relationship is strong we open the door to create meaningful learning for our learners.

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