At STAR Ranch, we work with at-risk youth to gently offer healing through working with horses. It’s incredible to see a smile on the face of a child as they heal from broken homes, abuse, and so many other issues. We also work with youth and young adults from the court system and from the community.
Through the incredible majesty of horses and the excitement that working with these beautiful animals can bring, at-risk folks from all walks of life have the chance to experience healing in many different ways.
Here, participants explore issues such as trust, responsibility, confidence and expectations as they learn to care for, and ultimately, ride these fantastic animals. Participants have included children, teens, and adults dealing with domestic abuse situations, recovery centers, and those with emotional or physical disabilities.
WHAT WE DO
Participants learn how to feed the horses and groom them along with winter horse care as this can differ slightly as the participants need to know which blankets to put on a horse and how to put them on. Usually the horses feed from an outdoor horse hay feeder but they will take food from hands too. They learn how to handle a horse, how to saddle it, and eventually they learn the basics of riding the horse.
As a participant works with the horses, we use the interaction to teach them lessons about how horses learn and how they react to instructions. For example, we might ask them to try to get the horse to move to a particular location without ever touching the horse. They may try clapping or yelling, only to find that the horse gets confused or frightened. Because of their own abuse, they can relate to the way the horse feels.
When a participant first tries to lead a horse, they may pull on the rope as if trying to drag the horse in the direction they want to go. When the horse balks they discover that the best way to lead a horse is not in front or behind the horse, but by its side. Again, not so different from their own reaction to authority.
WHY WE DO IT
Hands-on interaction with horses reduces anxiety, stress, and depression in these troubled kids. Even just being around the horses, watching them move about, listening to the sounds they make, and touching them, lifts their spirits. Being in the company of a horse is often less intimidating than being around other people at first.
Caring for the horses builds confidence and trust. It increases the participant’s ability to communicate. It even shapes their concept of who they are and what they are able to do. As the horse responds with trust, and depends on the care the participant provides, they begin to see themselves as worthwhile. Their self-acceptance grows.
Working with a horse and attempting to direct it’s behavior gives the participant a new perspective about boundaries because they see the effect of their actions in the horse’s response.
If you need more information about STAR Ranch, dial us or send an email. We’d love to talk with you!
1.208.562.8477 Email us!
We welcome volunteers to help with the care of the ranch and the horses. If you love working with horses and want to support our equine ministry to at-risk youth, give us a call!