After more than 25 years as a teacher in the Oxford Hills school district and at Telstar Regional High School, Nancy Hohmann retired in 2006. Since then, she’s worked as an instructor of therapeutic horse riding at Riding to the Top in Windham, and recently received the National Instructor of the Year Award from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. Hohmann has also grown interested in animal communication and recently published “Days with Daisy,” based on communications with her golden retriever.

How old are you? 63

What were the easiest and most difficult subjects to teach? Every year of teaching and every subject had its challenges and rewards, so it’s hard to say which subject was easiest and which hardest. Teaching algebra to sixth-graders was probably the most challenging subject for me, a language major in college, but I had a wonderful friend as a math tutor and really enjoyed the process. Teaching French and Spanish to first-and second-graders took an immense amount of energy, but was a fun way to end my public school teaching career. Of course origami, movie making, pre-algebra, French verbs, Spanish customs, French cooking, taking students to Europe, children’s literature were all exciting parts of the learning process.

How did you make the leap from teaching to riding instructor? I’ve been around horses all my life, and I’ve been a teacher since 1969. Teaching therapeutic riding seemed like a logical next step for me, combining two lifelong loves.

Why are you drawn to horses? I believe I was born with a natural interest in and love for horses. They are not only fun to be with, but they challenge us to live in the moment. They reflect our feelings and state of being. They give us opportunities to explore ourselves and the natural world.

What does therapeutic riding do? Therapeutic riding can help a client in myriad ways, from strengthening gross motor skills to improving speech. Following directions, gaining self-confidence, learning horsemanship skills, socialization, having fun, and reinforcing many life skills are also part of the program. The list is nearly endless. For a more complete answer to this question you can visit the Riding to the Top Web site at www.ridingtothetop.org or the NARHA Web site: narha.org.

What was your reaction on getting the NARHA National Instructor of the Year Award? I did not believe it was true, then I started crying. The first person I wanted to tell was my mother, who would have been so proud. She passed away in 2007.

How do you communicate with animals? It’s a process of getting back to our original nature of being able to communicate with all things in the universe. Centering, being quiet, putting my brain “on hold,” opening my heart, and listening. Hard to explain.

Can a golden retriever’s thoughts be distilled to “feed me,” “pet me” and “play with me,” as has been suggested? I guess you’ll have to read “Days with Daisy” for the answer to that question…


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