Feel Good Friday: Let ‘em Ride! Fostering Child Development through Horsemanship
contributed by Jasmine Minbashian, Associate Director MVRU
“Who is a little nervous?”
Several small hands raised from a circle of children who were preparing to learn about horses and horsemanship at the Methow Valley Riding Unlimited (MVRU). By the end of the day, the nerves were gone and they were shouting “horses are awesome!”
MVRU and the Methow Valley School District have teamed up to create “Let ‘em Ride”, a program for elementary school children that fosters social and emotional development in an outdoor learning environment interacting with horses.
Let ‘em Ride is a 10-week session that revolves around a theme – such as building relationships, cooperation, and problem solving – that are demonstrated through games and team-building activities. This spring the current theme is “Choices and Decision Making”.
Each day examines how choices are made through activities such as grooming, learning to halter and lead, and riding the horses. Students reflect on their daily experiences by writing in a journal.
MVRU sends updates to families each week with topics covered and ways to help reinforce some of the lessons from their experiences and implement them in their daily lives.
The special interaction between the horses and students, along with focused curriculum, has helped make a significant impact in many students’ lives. One teacher commented on his student:
“I wanted to let you know that [my student] had a great time yesterday. I can’t begin to tell you how profound the experience was for him. He is a different kid today. He came back to class yesterday and spoke with me more than he has all year. He was enthusiastic and upbeat, which has not been his norm.
As student, he seems empowered today. He has been a bit of a reluctant learner, but today he has approached each task with a new sense of confidence. He seems to trust in his abilities, and to be willing to keep going even when the going gets tough. Thanks for doing what you do, and for giving him this opportunity.”
This program was made possible by unrestricted gifts to the Methow Valley Fund and other grant funding sources.