By Dr. Michele Ramsay
Program Director, CIP Brevard
During this session of the Eye of a Horse Program, I was looked at as a new CIP student, led by our qualified students: Stephanie, Thea, Bryson, Benny, Elyssa, and Samantha. Their task, from Dr. Sandra Wise, who leads the program, was to teach me some critical thinking skills by herding a group of 19 wild ponies into a donut shaped coral — keep in mind, the horses needed to travel from several acres away through open land. Our team leader, Stephanie, did a fantastic job of orchestrating the move, positioning students at critical locations, and remaining calm when a few adult horses decided to run into the herd and distract the ponies with a full out gallop.
This amazing group of students worked together as a team with minimal guidance from their fearless leaders, Dr. Wise and Dean, the ranch hand, to accomplish their goal. Some of the real magic happened immediately after the session, during the debriefing. Students openly discussed their experience, provided their team leader with constructive feedback, and self-reflected. Wonderful conversations continued over the next hour as we discussed parallels to real life; the importance of not over-generalizing situations, but rather focusing on the specifics of tasks at hand and to break them down into manageable pieces.
As a reward for their outstanding leadership and presentation of skills learned, Dr. Wise and Dean treated us to a special remote section of the ranch. Here, the students were greeted by wild cows, bulls, and horses. And, to the students’ delight, they were reunited with a calf that they handled last week, within an hour of his birth.