At Risk Teens
For at risk teens therapeutic riding is about more then just learning to ride and/or the physical benefit horseback riding can bring. Most of them suffer from mid-level to severe emotional and behavioral problems. These problems can be from mental disorders such as bi-polar, a troubled home life, a problem fitting in, among others. These problems make the kids act up and become dangerous to themselves and others. Many of these kids do not respond to traditional therapy. Sitting and talking to someone about an ongoing problem does nothing but reenact their troubles over and over. What these kids really need is a place they can fit in, be themselves, forget about their problems and learn all at the same time. HOPE can offer this to them. Our instructors accept who they are and build lesson plans based around each child’s individual needs. We give them a place to think about something fun instead of all their everyday problems. Our horses offer them unconditional love and respect which is something many of them don’t have in their lives. We also offer them something to look forward to every week.
Although we offer these kids many wonderful things, they all come with rules and guidelines which must be followed in order to participate in our program. There is no aggression allowed toward any person or animal. The kids must listen to what they are told by our instructors and when asked work as a team with the other riders. They will learn how to groom and saddle their own horse (if they are old enough). In using these rules the kids learn that proper communication is not acting out. Showing aggression and not listening will get them no where in this program. They learn to have and show respect for authority (our instructors and volunteers), the horses, and their peers (the other riders). With showing respect for others they will in turn receive the respect they are looking for. In having this scheduled every week and having to take care of their own horse while they are with us they learn a sense of responsibility. We also set goals for the riders. With everything they learn comes a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. They are rewarded with praise for the things they learn which is something they don’t often receive in life. Depending on the individual there is much more they can take from the experience but there is one thing everyone takes with them and that is unconditional love.
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