Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Equine program – Learning through horses

Equine coordinator Barbara White passes on her vast knowledge, experience and love of horses to our youth through Methodist Children’s Home equestrian program. Teaching to all skill levels, White leads summer horsemanship classes incorporating obstacle courses and therapeutic horseback riding in her training.

White has taught lessons on horse anatomy, taken youth to a tack shop as well as lessons on how to properly care for horses. In each class, she leads youth through horsemanship exercises based on the youth’s experience with horses.

White explained that horses are a “flight” animal; without a predatory sense, horses are instinctively intuitive to their surroundings. Horses are extremely sensitive to emotions, so whatever we may be feeling at that time is mirrored by the horse, making them ideal therapeutic animals for youth coming from hard places. White designed an obstacle course for horses with low confidence, and by putting the youth in charge of helping the horse through the course, they ultimately help them to gain more confidence in their abilities.

“Whatever comes out in the horse will come out in us,” she said. “This triggers something in a kid when they work on how to get the horse through it. Once they learn they can get a 1,000-pound animal to respond for them, it builds their confidence as well.”

White was raised with horses, riding by herself since the age of 3. She began training at 9 years old and has competed in rodeos and races throughout her career. She has taught therapeutic riding since 1994 and joined the MCH staff in 2013.

“I enjoy sharing the knowledge and passing it on to these kids by working with them one-on-one,” she said. “That moment when you see everything just clicks for them, that is why I do this job.”

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