Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy Boundaries: A Colt Story to Ponder

By Angela Woodrow
Project Navigator with Fine-Tuned Families

A corral is a healthy boundary for a colt. They learn to trust their surroundings-- in a safe environment the colt practices how to run and gallop effectively.
In a large, open, undefined space, colts continually bolt away from perceived dangers. They do not learn how to gain strength if they are constantly fleeing perceived dangers.

As they get stronger, the corral is widened, and distance is added. Only after the colt proves it is ready to follow instructions and is able to endure the distance of the corral, is the space lengthened or widened. This practice of gaining strength and efficiency, by  running first  in a smaller space, then graduating to larger spaces, and then finally to a full length track, allows the horse to build confidence. When a horse reaches the track for a race, it will know how to handle the distance.

Here’s the gentle wisdom behind the animal husbandry/ behavior science:
"In the wild, when a horse is spooked, he will run up to 800 yards, turn, disengage, and look at what caused him to flee. Then he will snort, shake his head and decide whether to keep running or relax and stay where he is. A corral helps you to achieve disengagement. Disengagement of the hindquarters means that your horse is willing to give up his ability to leave, and that you now have the means to "engage" his power. When a horse faces you, you have become its leader, and you have set up an environment where learning can take place."   (Author: Deb Cooper:  . The full article is available on the website and in

So it is with our children. When we set loving boundaries for them, they learn and grow strong within those boundaries. When they demonstrate they have mastered the needed skills, wisdom, and strength to handle the ‘distance’ of their current boundaries, we can expand those limits a little bit at a time, until they are ready to ‘run the full distance of the track’.  Partnering in parenting requires agreement on the boundaries and the speed in which they are expanded.  Setting up a corral in which your colt faces you and is ready to learn how to ‘run free’ in due time, is a gift of love for a lifetime.

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