What We Do
Equine Assisted Learning
What is Equine Assisted Learning? Equine assisted learning is an experience-based learning approach that promotes the development of life skills by working with our equine partners. This focus on life skills can be related to academics and classroom pursuits, personal growth and development, and an exploration of professional pursuits such as leadership development and team building.
How Do We Use Equine Assisted Learning? Learning is at the core of every program we offer. Many of our day group participants (Alpha Group, Person Centered Services, Delaware Hayes and our Formerly Homeless Veterans) are learning how to live their lives after traumatic experiences, or they are living with challenges in their cognitive and physical abilities. Our goal is to help them learn how to apply lessons they learn in the barn to everyday life. Many of our participants receive “homework”, something as simple as a report on a certain breed of horse, detailing traits and characteristics of that breed and what makes them different from other breeds. Spelling and grammar are not what is being graded, but instead critical thinking, interpretation and application of the information are what is being evaluated. What they learn about their chosen breed is not the goal, but instead they are learning how to seek out the requested information, they are learning how to apply the information they received, and they are learning how to present the information in the requested format. This gives our students and participants practice for everyday tasks such as interpreting and understanding instruction manuals at work.
Every program that we offer interacts with our equine partners in some manner. Horsemanship and riding skills are taught not as a hobby or something to fill the time, but instead, taught as a method of learning about and understanding ourselves in addition to our equine partners. For any and all our participants, learning about horses is equal to learning about yourself. Learning to trust yourself when working with the horses is a battle for some participants, learning to humble yourself when you make a mistake in working with the horses is yet another lesson some participants must learn. Our equine partners are amazing teachers, they teach us to look at ourselves, our motivation, our decision-making process, our ability to follow the necessary steps and procedures. The horses are like a mirror, they show you what you fear, what worries you, where you feel strong, where you feel confident and once you see your reflection within the horse, you develop a new kind of education. You learn to look at yourself differently, you learn to examine yourself and your motivation.
Our Weekly Lesson Program
Our weekly lessons consist of approximately 70 participants ranging in age from 4 to 72. Our lesson program provides the opportunity for riders to groom, drive and ride the horses at our stables. Each lesson is 30 minutes long and allows the participant to interact with their horse, their side-walkers and their instructor. A major benefit of this program is the relationship that is formed between the participant and their equine partner. The building of that relationship can be calming and anxiety reducing for the riders. The physical benefits of the lessons also include building core strength, balance, and coordination. Every participant starts with a detailed evaluation and comprehensive lesson plans are created, taking into effect the participants needs and goals. We work with the participant and their parents/guardians to develop a learning plan and goals that incorporates all aspects of our student’s needs, from their physical needs to their mental and emotional needs. The mental stimulation and development are astounding to watch. We focus on each participant as a whole, improving a rider’s core strength while simultaneously practicing letters, numbers, animals, colors and matching games while on horseback. We’ve seen students grow from barely being able to sit on the horse by themselves, to riding and completing puzzles and various physical and mental challenges while maintaining control of their horse.
Veteran and First Responder Groups
Our First Responders and Veteran’s Program are free programs offered to our local heroes. The activities offered include learning all aspects of horsemanship while engaging in comradery and fellowship. We offer a healing environment and the opportunity to help in the healing journey of others with the support of equine companionship. Many of them are looking for a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging again. Some have horse experience, most do not. The challenge of learning the riding and driving skills is exciting. They are learning about horses, barn life and what it takes to run a non-profit. Many of our Veterans and First Responders start as participants in program, then they start to volunteer for special events, then they start volunteering on a regular weekly basis and a few have even chosen to become instructors for our lesson program. We’ve been lucky enough to hold several equine first aid classes, teaching participants the basics of equine first aid, how to care for our equine partners in times of emergency as well as follow up care for on-going issues. Our Veterans have represented Stockhands Horses for Healing for going on five years now at the Heroes on Horses Event at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. Each participant is responsible for the care and preparation of their horse. It’s different type of learning environment, learning how to trailer their horse onto the grounds, learning how to properly groom and prepare their horse for the show ring. In addition to learning how to care for their horse, many of our Veterans are still somewhat new to riding, so they are learning new skills every day in preparation for the show ring. We consider it an honor to host our Veterans and First Responders each Friday, these are groups that have done so much for us, we love any way we are able to give back.
Read With The Horses
One of our long-time volunteers, Michelle Lowe, is a teacher in the Westerville school district, she was able to combine her love of horses with her love of learning and reading with this amazing event. We started the program with the students from Michelle’s class and that one Saturday in May has continued every second Saturday of the month program that gets bigger each month! Reading to a horse is a judgement free environment where readers at any level can read to one or all of the horses with no fear of being corrected, being shamed, being judged for their reading skills. As a teacher, Michelle is fostering both a love a reading and love of horses in all the participants of this program. Parents watch in awe as their child who “hates to read aloud” reads and entire book to their horse. Teachers from schools all over Delaware and Franklin County watch as their students who stumble over words and hate reading in class with sit with their horse for almost the full two hours reading book after book to their horse. Michelle has also created word games and matching games to learn about the different parts of the horse, different breeds of horses and there are always a variety of horse related stories to choose from. Readers are encouraged to bring their own books, some have even written their own stories to read to our horses! One student even wrote a story about one of our horses as he sat there with him. This program has truly taken off, we’ve been blessed to have two authors visit our program and share books and their own love of reading.