A horse’s face – soft muzzle, alert ears and big, soft eyes – just the sight can put a kid, or adult, at ease. When kids connect with horses the impact can be simply magical. The horse and human connection has been a vital part of man’s progress since the dawn of civilization. Our society, however, is drifting farther away from that “horse to human connection” due to economic factors, proximity to horses, and the interference with technology. These barriers are increasingly driving a wedge between “actual connection” in favor of “virtual connection”.
There is something magical that happens when we put down our cell phones, step out of our houses, and use our senses to connect with something in the real world. Many of us who are lucky enough to have horses in our lives take for granted this kind of therapeutic escape. There are so many people in this world who just haven’t had the chance to experience the magic of what horses can provide in our lives. Kids especially need connection and experience with our natural, real world.
Kids Connect with Horses
Study upon study proves that horses have a significant impact on humans, socially, physically and even spiritually. This fact has not gone unnoticed by a local trainer, Mindy Smith, who recently opened her ranch up to foster families in the 5-cities area who are connected to Grace Bible Church’s foster care ministry.
Mindy Smith Rockies, in Arroyo Grande, hosted a fun-filled Kid’s Day at her Ranchita Estates ranch bringing more horses and humans together.
Kids, both young and old, got to experience connecting with a horse “up-close and personal”, through horse painting, grooming and horseback riding. Other activities included wagon rides, a tree swing, games and interacting with other animals to increase the options of human/animal interaction. This event provided the first-time experience of horse interaction for several foster family members.
“The kids were so excited to ride the horses and many gained confidence as they led the horses with huge smiles on their faces. Painting horses? I never knew there was such a fun activity!”
Mark and Christina, newly-minted foster parents, expressed.
Kid’s Day or Horse Day?
“Funny that I call it Kid’s Day, as the children come to the ranch; I found the parents call it Horse Day, as they come to the horses.” Mindy said as she shared her thoughts on the event she created. “I have dogs, cats and chickens too, and am always appalled at how many kids have never even touched a horse! I love watching the fear melt as the day goes on.”
Mindy first opened her ranch to kids about seven years ago. “It is a free day open to anyone to come out and just experience the [magical] connection only horses can give. I joined the foster adoption group a few months ago and have been holding more private sessions for these children, as they need a quieter more personal environment in which to prosper.”
“The kids were happy to be around the horses,”
says Michael, a volunteer horse leader who witnessed the transformation first hand.
“Several kids were surprised at how tall they were when riding,”
remarked Leah, another horse leading volunteer.
What difference can we make in the lives of children and people around us who have never interacted with a horse? We can introduce them to the wonder and beauty of these magnificent creatures who can truly change their lives. We can make sure kids connect with horses.
Grace Bible Church Foster Care Help
San Luis Obispo County is in desperate need of more foster families to care for children, as well as individuals and groups to support those families. Grace Bible Church in Arroyo Grande offers to serve, support, and connect with foster, adoptive children families and Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). Kathy Curtis is the ministry director and thoroughly enjoyed the Kid’s Day at Mindy’s ranch together with her family.
Whether you are a current or prospective parent, want to mentor, or simply feel led to support a foster/adoptive/CSEC family, GBC FA CSEC Ministry is available to discuss the various ways individuals, families and small groups can get involved. Contact GBC Foster/Adopt/CSEC Ministry Leader Kathy Curtis 805-440-8641 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Photos: Cover: Victoria Ward taken at the event, Kids reaching up: Sharon Jantzen taken at Ag Adventure Camp, Mindy Smith: Mindy Smith, Kid’s Day photos: Kathy Curtis