Our equine therapy program for adolescents and youth at risk is unique in that it combines academic studies, groundwork with
the horses and exercises to enhance the building of trusting relationships including: developing personal integrity; the development
of kindness, mindfulness and compassion; learning to show respect to get respect; and demonstrating leadership. All of our
classes are standards based and aim to be cross-curricular, weaving in art, geography, math, reading and writing. We also
incorporate the Six Pillars of Character. Kids question everything. When they hear the same information from multiple sources,
it is a fact that they’ll be more responsive to the messages of respect, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, responsibility
In a typical
adolescent/youth at risk equine therapy session, which lasts eight weeks, we work with a group of 8-10 kids. Each week we
incorporate a different character trait, have an academic focus and have a hands-on time with the horses either doing groundwork
or an exercise.
the exercises, the kids are put in an arena with several loose horses and are given a task. The task might be to move a horse
from one place to another without touching it or to lead a horse through a maze filled with temptations that they must keep
the horse away from. They are given some rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. They have a couple of minutes
to strategize as a team, and then the first rule goes into effect—no talking. They must communicate from then on non-verbally,
like the horses do.
The way the kids and the horses interact and react to one another provides metaphors and analogies
that can be applied to all aspects of their lives. It helps them become aware of current patterns and motivates them to change to new ones. We focus on them learning problem-solving skills and how to overcome
difficulties in life and relationships.
"The Horses Heal
program allows my students to work on an even playing field. They all have fears and different traumatic backgrounds.
The horses allow them to be themselves and see positive success in a short amount of time. The program supports our character
based program and helps us teach character traits, positive goal setting, and problem solving in a unique forum.” --Mrs. Hofstetter-Batiste, Orange County Probation
Specific benefits of a horse program for adolescents/youth
at risk include:
- Enhanced social skills
- Increased self-discipline, self-control and patience
responsibility and cooperation
- Builds self-esteem and confidence
- Gives a feeling of being unique and special
- Horses spark the imagination
This equine therapy program requires all
participants to go through an interview and assessment process before being accepted into the program. We require a commitment
on the part of each participant to complete the program and to work on the issues identified during the assessment process.
It is important that participants attend every week and complete the program as a group. Each day builds on the previous week so it is not possible to add a day as a make-up if one is missed. For individual adolescents, the cost of the 8-week, 16-hour program
is $480. This fee is non-refundable once the program has begun. Some partial scholarships
are available.This equine therapy program is offered to approved nonprofits
and public agencies based on ability to pay.