If you are considering an equine-based treatment program for your child it may be difficult to decide which program may be best. Many programs advertise an equine component, however, know that “all programs are not created equally.” A good equine program will offer both ground and riding components, will require students to provide care and training to the horses on a daily basis, will have daily access to equine activities and/or chores, and will focus on the process of the “relationship” or natural horsemanship techniques throughout all phases of equine processes. Below is a list of questions you should ask any program who offers equine-related services:
Q. How often do equine activities occur during the week in your program?
A. Daily at Equine Journeys
Q. Do students provide care and training to horses in your program?
A. At Equine Journeys student are responsible for daily feeding, overall training and conditioning for their horses.
Q. How often do students ride horses in your program?
A. Students are required to ride at Equine Journeys and will be in the saddle a minimum of eight hours per week and oftentimes 12 to 16 hours per week.
Q. Do students have their own, individually selected horses?
A. At Equine Journeys student have their own horses which they chose when they arrive. Sometimes students will changes horses during the program if their skills exceed the abilities of the horses they originally selected. Additionally, they do not share their horses with other students. Students refer to their horses either by their names or as “my horse.”
Q. Does your equine program include a working ranch environment where horsemanship skills learned by students have practical application and necessity?
A. Equine Journeys/EJ Cattle Company is working cattle and horse training ranch and farm. Student use their horses to move, separate, cut, and drive cattle on the ranch or in mountain and desert grazing areas. Additionally, students may chose to learn to rope cattle on horseback as part of the cattle vaccination, branding, and tagging operations and/or in officially sponsored competitive tie-down, breakaway, or team roping events.
Q. Do students have an opportunity to demonstrate their horsemanship skills in competitive events in your program?
A. Each student at Equine Journeys is a member of the Utah State Western Riding Club Association. They train for and compete at organized competitive events throughout the year. Additionally, students who desire are permitted to compete in non-rough stock rodeo events at local rodeos.
Q. Are all the therapists in your program certified to provide equine-based therapy?
A. All therapists at Equine Journeys are certified, minimally, at the basic level of equine co-facilitated psychotherapy and are working on obtaining higher levels of the same certification. The certification program developed by owners has three levels and takes approximately four years of continual training to reach the third level. We also train and certify other programs throughout the nation in our model.
Q. Is the equine program the centerpiece of the overall treatment program?
A. At Equine Journeys the horse and equine metaphors are threaded throughout the program. Parents and students alike are trained through their interactions with the horse. In this process they learn key life lessons such as responsibility, leadership, empathy, relationship skills, patience, and perseverance.
Q. Is the horse used as an object in your program?
A. At Equine Journeys the horse is considered to be a co-therapist and the relationship between the student and the horse is the primary healing process. Horses are not just used in therapeutic activities and then put aside, nor are they just used as a tool to complete tasks as we need them to. The horse is a key member of the treatment team and student’s family unit. The daily needs of the horse are the first consideration for each student at the beginning of each day. We feed our animals before we feed ourselves, and we consider the needs of our horses before we consider our own needs.
Q. Can students who become bonded to their horses purchase the horse at the end of the program?
A. At Equine Journeys a student, if appropriate, may be permitted to purchase his or her horse at the end of the program. We will not consent to the sale of a horse unless the student and family is capable of providing ongoing care and the purchase would be in the best interest of both the student and the horse.
Q. Does the equine component in your program have an additional cost?
A. At Equine Journeys the equine program is included in the monthly tuition.