Horses as teachers

Through the non-judgmental eyes of a horse, we can create a more positive individual. A once-angry, hurting youth can come to see that he can change his life by changing his behaviour with the help of a faithful friend, a horse; becoming a more stable and productive person in our society.

What horses do for kids! Despite the lure of their beauty and power, to a young person, a horse is an example of a problem that is too big to handle. Their size can be daunting; their “having a mind of their own” can be intimidating and frustrating. Yet, this is what makes working with horses such a unique challenge.

No other discipline requires such empathy, caring for a living thing in an interdependent way, as opposed to inanimate equipment which can be locked away when you’re done. There is no other “equipment” that nickers back when it gets to know and trust you.

There are few other disciplines that demand such total, full-body communication, or that demand working with a partner so intimately as correctly handling a horse. This is the unique gift of the horse-human predator-prey bond.

Correctly handling horses requires the development of planning skills, foresight and concentration and is credited with lengthening the attention span and concentration in youth, and improving sensory integration skills.

Lessons in respecting others space, cooperation, and giving respect to get respect are horse-handler lessons that are equally important for success with people. It teaches cooperation with another, while standing your own ground. It requires “leader” mentality, rather than the “follower/gang” mentality.

Horses by virtue of their unique combination of bold and timid, strong and fragile, offer a child an opportunity to be both powerful and gentle, to find the difference between leading and forcing. Horses require a young person to set boundaries in dealing with them. It demands discipline, perseverance, and watchfulness.

All of these gifts train attitudes, life skills, personal disciplines and world views that come bundled up with the love and friendship of a horse – an unparalleled motivator for youth lost in our own back yards, our Very own community.


Learning  to work safely and effectively requires patience, trust, compassion, awareness and self-confidence.

Every child has a favourite and will often pick a horse with a similar nature as their own.


The stall or paddock provides a natural setting and children do not feel closely watched or focused on.

It is an escape from four walls and ‘authoritarian’ type concepts and it is effective in quickly reaching the heart of a child’s issues.


Despite the lure of their beauty and power to a young person, a horse is an example of a problem that is too big to handle. Their size can be daunting; their “having a mind of their own” can be intimidating and frustrating. Street savvy does not work on horses and they are not intimidated by what you look like or what colour clothes you wear. Horses look for the authentic person not the one we are pretending to be.


From the first moments with their horse, students use the same coping mechanisms as they do with other stressful factors in their lives. Issues usually rise to the surface much more quickly meaning issues can be dealt with sooner.