February has descended upon our country, and we find ourselves at Life Development Institute about a quarter of the way through our spring trimester.  We are fully “back in the saddle” now and moving forward in our educational journey.  This journey is similar to the recent experience our students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other Learning Disabilities had getting “back in the saddle” during a horseback riding adventure.  That experience was filled with moments of anxiety, accomplishment, community, difficulties, and enjoyment.  Similar to our education, this correlation represents what it takes to succeed in education and life.

To begin, anxiety always comes forth at the beginning of any new experience.  We often question ourselves and our surroundings.  Will I be able to get on the horse?  Who are the new people in my class?  What if I fall off?  What if I fail?  However, where anxiety persists, accomplishment reigns.  For when any of us get on the horse or meet someone new, we see the anxious reality wane and give way to renewed hope and obtain the courage to press forward.  It’s at this point we can sit “back in the saddle” and engage in community, which most often teaches the most important lessons in life by exposing us to the experiences of others.  It is here that we learn how to increase or decrease a horse’s speed, how to understand material that has been presented to us, how to direct the horse, and how to succeed in the assessments that qualify what we have learned.

Yet, this journey is not always an easy one.  Moments of difficulty still exist.  Sometimes, we fall off the horse or fail to display we have learned something. Disappointment occurs, and we have a choice to make.  We can either wallow in the despair of failure or get “back in the saddle” and carry on.  Embracing our journey filled with “mountain top” moments of success and “valleys” of disillusionment empowers us to discover the enjoyment of life.  Discovering this fulfillment offers us the opportunity to accept our shortcomings and recognize our ability to overcome.  It is at this point that being “back in the saddle” is no longer a metaphor for starting a journey for the first time.  Rather, we understand that our experience enables us to ride with confidence into a new fray equipped with the proper paradigm for continued accomplishments, community, and enjoyment.

As such, LDI students began their horseback riding experience with some tentativeness as the experience was new to some.  However, working through these moments gave way to an enjoyable day together.  They were able to discover the beauty of the valley in which Phoenix resides along with the experience of riding horses.  It is amazing how fears can become fun in the right circumstances of taking small risks and moving past the tentativeness that can keep us from experiencing what life has to offer.