Therapeutic horsemanship creates opportunities for our children to use horses as partners as they grow emotionally and physically, as well as gain motivational, vocational and educational skills.
Children are highly encouraged to participate, but never forced. As the children strive to reach their unique goals in riding, they are taught responsibility and respect for their peers, partners and elders. This can then be reflected not only while riding, but also in their homes, at school, and all other aspects of their lives. Horsemanship opens the door for communication and dictates a certain amount of healthy reliance on authority figures, as horsemanship is not inherent. Horsemanship also promotes independence, as the student learns to rely on his or her own abilities.
The benefits of therapeutic horsemanship for our children include strengthening cognitive and sequential thinking, problem solving, confidence and self-esteem building, and exposure to positive role-models and mentors. Using the horse as a partner provides a safe environment where the student is able to reveal his or her emotions. Goals are established and the progress of each child is recorded. Capabilities and behavior are continually documented through progress notes during the child’s riding career. After a child discontinues the program, a final assessment determines the total amount of progress.
Our equine program also provides unique opportunities for community outreach. For instance, women and children from Primrose Hill have been coming to Coyote Hill to experience therapeutic horsemanship. The goal of Primrose Hill is to help women, mothers and their children whose lives have been affected by the life-controlling issue of drugs and alcohol.
Our Equine Program specialist, Rebecca Buchholz, explains, “Horses have been such a big part of my understanding of who Christ is, that I was more than happy to introduce the Primrose Hill ladies to Jesus with our four-legged, hoofed therapists.
“Recently, a Primrose Hill mom came to Overton with her two children. The joy she had on her face while having her kids with her made her look positively radiant! They worked together on helping each other out on their horses. It was such a sweet experience and I felt so honored to be part of that. After they left, I realized that moment in time was monumental for Overton Arena. Primrose Hill was equipping that mother to be a leader in her family and learn to love Jesus and love who God made her to be. In turn, she will love her children with that love. God is using Primrose Hill and Coyote Hill together, to help stop the cycle in that family so those children can rest in the security of a mother who cares for them and will provide for them.”