Since its inception in 2000, the horse program has been a popular addition to Kurn Hattin’s offerings. Students utilize the horse program for many different reasons. For some, it is just one more activity that they fill their Kurn Hattin life with. For others, it is finding one thing that is really important to them, and makes them aware of and reinforces skills they never knew they had!
Sara Stine has been with Kurn Hattin Homes since March of 2008 and has enhanced the existing program with her own knowledge and expertise. She explains that the kids start with the basics and work to become partners with the horses. The students learn about the nature of horses and how to be a leader. If the student’s approach to the horse is not appropriate, the horse will not respond. Once they have mastered how to “become one with the horse,” the magic begins.
Students begin riding bareback so that they can learn to balance themselves on the horse. Sara reminds them, as the horse moves, so does their body—the horse responds best when their bodies move with the horse, not against it. Once they are able to balance riding bareback, they earn their saddle, then their reins and finally advance to be an independent rider. No two riders are the same and every student progresses at their own pace.
Currently, there are two groups meeting weekly. Devin, Camrielle, Davey and Nichole make up one group and the other is Corrinna, Makiah and Rebecca. Each group has an experienced rider in their group. Devin and Corrina are the experienced riders in their respective groups and are doing a great job. They are able to walk, trot and canter with their horses. These are skills the other riders will learn as they progress through the program.
Six students participate in the 4-H program. Stephyn, Corri, Danté, Devin, Hanna and Jillian are each assigned their own horse for a year. They are required to journal and scrapbook their experiences with their own horse. They must track the horse’s weight, heart rate and are responsible for feeding and grooming as well as taking their temperatures and deworming them. Responsibility falls on the students and the horses count on them to care for them properly. Under the supervision of Sara, the students do a fabulous job and are able to realize just how capable they are of managing such important duties. Self-confidence grows and the students not only realize they can handle the important duties that come with managing a horse, but also the important duties that come with managing their own lives.
Students also learn that many of the skills that work with gaining the horse’s cooperation, work with people too! The best part is that they figure it all out for themselves.
Valuable lessons are learned and what a wonderful way to learn them!
Admissions and Outreach Associate
Editors note: The goals of the program are learning and practicing safety, horsemanship skills and having a good time while providing a therapeutic environment for healing and growth.