Some of the tools we use for our groundwork sessions are:
Self-Awareness, Self-regulation, Connection through the body to the horse, Clear communication, Timing of requests and responses to the horse, Music and rhythm, Setting boundaries, Felt safety, Reading and interpreting body language, Trust building and partnership. Through building these skills, children learn to apply these same skills to their other life relationships, providing them with a foundation to have the knowledge to build good relationships over their lifespan.
Our mounted sessions further build on the skills above, focusing primarily on co-regulation, self-regulation, rhythm, control of self, and connection through the body to the horse. We teach our volunteers to advise during the sessions, guiding and supporting kids as they build and deepen the relationship to their horse. Our mounted sessions are scalable from lead-line horseback activities up to fully independent riders. Our horse activities are not goal or task-oriented, as our aim is not to teach competitive horseback riding skills. Our focus is on the development of relationships.
One of the mounted practices we use is Rhythmic Riding™, in which the rider uses their self-regulation skills to influence the horse to travel at a variety of paces in tempo with music. This further builds on the skills we practice in our groundwork and mounted co-regulation sessions. During this work, bottom-up regulation is provided by the horse by engaging the rider's brainstem with rhythmic, patterned, repetitive and bilateral movement which can help reorganize the brain, allowing the rider to better access the parts of their brain used for connection in a relationship.
Some kids aren't as interested in working with horses, but would still like to come to the ranch and experience our mentoring program. For these kids, we offer alternate activities. These activities can range from gardening to hiking, art and music, playing board games, STEM activities, or birdwatching. For these activities, kids are still paired with a mentor who invests in building the same skills that we utilize in our horse-based sessions. If you would like to be a part of our mentoring program, which utilizes the same skills as our equine program, but are not interested in working directly with horses, this could be a good fit for you.
We also offer a parent-outreach program where we offer support and encouragement to parents as they guide their kids through challenging situations. We also discuss with parents how to continue building their child's skills in their home environment, focusing on communication, boundaries, co-regulation, and trust-building. If you can see yourself working with parents and caregivers of children to help support them, we have volunteer opportunities for you.
In our volunteer training program, we teach our volunteers to understand:
the neurobiology of trauma and of relationships
how the brain develops optimally in response to healthy, connected relationships
how trauma and toxic stress negatively impacts our relationships with ourselves and others
how to identify relationship patterns by learning how to partner with a horse - we can't change what we don't notice, and the horse provides a relationship with clear feedback to help us learn to heal and grow for both the mentor and the child
how to practice and form new behaviors and healthier patterns by practicing new behaviors in relationship with your horse
how to experience a deeper connection to self and others as these new ways of being and interacting are reinforced
Volunteer Orientation and Training
Open Practice dates are available, please contact us if you are interested in volunteering.
Giving Tuesday - November 29th
Fall Session Opens in September - contact us to get an application to participate in our sessions program.