This Wednesday, the lovely folks of the English Language department at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School came out to ThorpeWood for a retreat. This group of twelve began their day by having breakfast in the pavilion and playing some ice breaker games. Their giggles could be heard across the farm! They followed this up by enjoying a tour of the farm – through the arboretum, around the pond, stopping into the homestead barn, visiting with animals, and finally arriving at our main barn. Here, they began our equine-assisted learning program. 

These teachers, who spend every day supporting and connecting with English learners, were naturals at EAL. They led gently, coaxing the horse along; it was amazing to see how our horses responded to the energy they brought to the program. Our horse, Geysir, for example, is extremely sensitive and usually is seen running out and away from EAL participants. This time, however, he walked calmly and even followed the lead of the youngest staff member there – a woman who just graduated high school two years ago and joined the EL department with her old teachers. 

Towards the end of EAL, we did a group game in which one person, blindfolded, leads a horse through our obstacle course with their peer verbally directing them. This was a wonderful experiment in trust – for people and animal alike!

Next, the EL department spent time at the lodge, where they ate lunch and discussed how to best use ThorpeWood for their students. The finished the day by having s’mores around our ‘cowboy cauldron.’ We were so delighted to have them at the farm with us. We hope to see them again soon – with their students!