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YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
PROGRAM OUTLINE
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Our Unmounted Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) Program commonly consists of 6 weekly small-group lessons of one hour in length.  We work with local educational and social service agencies to provide weekly day or after school programs to provide horsemanship lessons that are experiential and support social-emotional learning. Past partnerships include the Bristol Public Schools, The Bristol Boys & Girls Club, CT Junior Republic, FOCUS School for Autism, The Salvation Army, PARC, St. Vincent's DePaul, The West End Extended Learning Center and others. Each program is collaboratively designed between both organizations.

A growing body of research demonstrates that teaching horsemanship skills can promote emotional and social well-being in participants, serve as character education, and promote the social skills and leadership of youth and children in particular.  Specifically, horsemanship grows competencies in responsibility for self and others, as well as forming attitudes and actions that are the hallmark of safe, healthy, and informed communities.

Research confirms an array of positive outcomes including increased confidence, self-esteem, and promoted social interactions, all of which are transferable to participants’ daily lives (Burgon, 2003).

  • Clear communication through gaining trust and respect, with predictable consistent consequences, is effective for both horse and student.

  • Horses use body language to communicate, and students are taught to look for relaxation, understanding and acceptance. Students learn strategies to calm the horse and connect with them – with a balance of empathy and assertiveness.

  • Horses help students learn how their actions provoke certain responses in the horses, what those responses mean and how to change their actions to increase communication and effectiveness within their relationships. Horses teach students to act assertively and display tenacity. They receive validation from an unbiased, powerful creature, who gives honest feedback.

  • Contact the Program Director at program@shepardmeadows.org for further information.

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