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.
Each 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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