Leadership Classes

Between Horses and Humans hosts Leadership classes for 8 weeks each summer. Each class has 10 students, and always starts with a safety check for helmets & proper footwear. Then students introduce themselves to a volunteer, telling them something about themselves.

While I was filming a beautiful girl named Prudence introduced herself to me. She said, “Hi, I’m Prudence. I’m really shy at first but I’m very kind. Once you get to know me I can be pretty crazy too.” What an amazing thing for a shy student like Prudence to approach a complete stranger and display such self awareness ­ many adults I know couldn’t do that!

When introductions are over the students move on to body work, making sure their horse’s coat is in good, clean condition. During this grooming session two students learned how to read the signals Mari gave them. When Mari turns sharply during grooming her owner Cindy asks the students, “Now what did Mari just tell you?” They discuss how Mari is communicating that she doesn’t like to be brushed too hard.

Here you can see Eli cleaning out Mari’s hooves. He shows no fear of being next to such a large animal, and just gets in there and gets the job done. There is plenty of time for the students to pet the horses, groom them, and show them care. When Eli notices a bug bite on Mari’s belly he makes sure she gets some cream for it. However, it’s not always serious business ­ here Program Director Barbara Slade decides a student’s helmet might be better on her head!

Students work in pairs with their horses, learning important teamwork lessons, especially how important it is to work together. When Prudence wanders too far from her partner she quickly realizes she needs to correct. The children are given direction on the next part of the lesson.

Then they put it into practice. What may look like simply walking around an arena is actually teaching the students many important lessons. They are learning to focus on the task at hand. They are learning to work together with their partner and the rest of their classmates to ensure their horse says in the correct position. They are learning how important each team member is. And they are learning how their horse responds to their actions and guidance.

At the Between Horses and Humans Leadership program children learn lifelong lessons about leadership through horsemanship.


Students Learn

Students of the Between Horses and Humans program enjoy the use of the beautiful Maddi’s Friesian Ranch set at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in picturesque Douglas County, Nevada.  The Ranch affords 80 acres of open pasture land with lush green grass and sweeping views of the Carson Valley.  Lessons provide students with the opportunity to get outside in the fresh air, and to learn valuable lessons through their interaction with the horses and volunteers.

Simply being with a horse can be very uplifting.  Each horse has their own personality.  Here a student scratches Mari and enjoys Mari’s comical facial expressions.

Students learn about caring for their horses, translating into the lesson that it is important that they also learn to care for themselves.

Students are given time with their volunteers to talk about anything that is on their mind.  Opportunities come during the simplest of moments, such as walking the horse back to its stall or pasture.  As trust develops between the student and their horse, so too it develops between the student and volunteer.  This provides a unique opportunity for students to discuss issues or receive gentle guidance from an impartial adult outside of their parental or guardianship unit.

Working with horses provides children with exposure to situations they would never otherwise have experienced, broadening their horizons and building their confidence through uncertainty.  Just like in life, when working with the horses things don’t always go as expected.  While being walked around the arena by a small boy, Silver decided it was time to have a roll in the dirt!  The student watched as nobody panicked or got upset with him, nobody was angry because Silver wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing.  They simply experience the moment.  When life takes unexpected turns it’s not because you are doing something wrong.  And the best way to handle it is to embrace it, be patient, and walk through it.

At Between Horses and Humans students learn to handle the unexpected, understand when routine is important, and that each horse (and each person) is unique.  Between Horses and Humans is a safe, nurturing environment where children experience lives changed, hearts healed.

Samantha and Freddie

Samantha and Freddie have a very special relationship.  Samantha credits Freddie with “basically saving her life”.  She had a tough time with a close friend last year, and was suffering from depression.  Her time at Between Horses and Humans (BHH) has changed her for the better.

Samantha says Freddie is her best friend – she describes how she even tried to braid his hair once!  She enjoys coming out to the ranch and spending time with Freddie in the arena while talking to Barbara Slade (BHH President).

Barbara speaks very highly of Samantha and what she has accomplished.  She has a natural ability to work with the horses, and frequently points things out to Barbara about the horses.  Samantha can get Freddie to do many things nobody else can get him to do.  Samantha is extremely proud of that.

Samantha and Freddie undoubtedly have a very special bond, and Freddie has helped to change Samantha’s life and heal her heart.

For more information, please check out our About Us page.

The Student Experience

When students enter the gates of Maddi’s Friesian Ranch they enter a sanctuary for the soul. There is none of the shouting, yelling, dominance, belittling, being ignored, or feeling inconsequential that many students feel in their homes or lives.  As the automatic gates close behind each vehicle, those undesirable elements are left behind, and the student enters a world where they are valued, cherished, respected, and invested in.

Students begin the program with hands-on experiences from Day 1.  They are taught safety – horses are large, powerful animals with very hard hooves and a lot of weight on top of those hooves should you be stepped on or kicked.  Yet injuries are rare.  Students quickly realize they have the power to avoid injury by making wise choices.

Between Horses and Humans is a far cry from a riding school.  Students learn all facets of caring for horses including grooming, feeding, cleaning hooves, equine massage, treating bumps and scrapes, and being on the lookout for injuries and problems requiring medical attention.  They work with many different horses to understand how each one is unique, and to broaden their skills and experiences.  Learning to care for a horse makes students aware of the importance of grooming and caring for themselves too.

IMG_4689Each lesson typically consists of part grooming and care, part riding.  It is magical to watch a tiny student mount a seemingly giant horse, their silhouette pasted against the scenic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the Carson Valley.  It is amazing how quickly nerves fade, and the connection between horse and rider takes over.  With skilled and gently guiding instructors never far away, students experience – many of them for the first time in their lives – the feeling that they are completely in charge of the decisions they make.  The only co-dependencies that are welcome in the program are those between the horse and rider.  Students knowing they can guide a horse translates into knowing they can guide themselves through the maze of life’s choices.

Between Horses and Humans nurtures a special bond between horse and student.  They come to understand each other in unique ways: each has a relationship with the other that they don’t share with anyone else.  They develop mutual understanding, respect, and care.  Through that relationship transformations happen.  One smile, pat, nudge, ride, command, success, failure, choice, consequence, hug, lick, and nuzzle at a time changes lives and heals hearts.

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