horse, equine therapy, spur, EGALA

Connections: Horses, Kids, and God

“Horses have been a blessing to our kids!  There is a horse for every personality in our home. It has been neat to see confidence arise in those who struggle with self-worth or fears from past trauma; excitement bubbling over from having the opportunity to pet, groom, or ride a horse.”

Amanda Zamarron, Cookson Hills Housemom

The Equine Program at Cookson Hills is thriving. Currently, there are two components of the Equine program. These are horsemanship classes and equine assisted social skills training and team building. However, a third component of the Equine Program, equine assisted psychotherapy “EAGALA,” will be launched later in 2020.

For more about the Cookson Hills Horsemanship classes, click here to read our Secret Keeper Horses blog. 

Using SPUR games, teams can develop skills while working alongside horses.

Using the SPUR Model, Cookson Hills facilitates equine assisted social skills training and team building. SPUR games require participants to solve a problem or reach an objective using horses. However, these games have very few instructions regarding how to reach the objective. Facilitators observe how players interact with the horses and with each other. In so doing, they determine how the players approach problem solving, communication, and teamwork. 

Team Building Games

Horse games, Team building, SPUR games
Debriefing the SPUR game is the key element for teams and families to carry what they learn beyond in the arena.

Last fall down at the barns, the boys and girls basketball teams each participated in team building games using the SPUR model. Coaches and facilitators took note of the interactions among the horses and the team members. After the team reached the objective, the facilitators and coaches led a discussion to debrief. They asked the team questions based on their observations of what happened in the arena. Next, they encouraged the teams to adjust their habits and practices based on strategies that were effective or ineffective. We will continue using SPUR games for team building and social skills training for our sports teams and within house families. 

New Mental Health Opportunities

Later this year, we plan to launch the third component of the Equine Program by partnering with our mental health therapists to become EAGALA certified. The focus of EAGALA is the mental health and personal development of our students. We are thrilled about the opportunities being licensed as equine therapists will create for our students and their families. 

“I like that the horses are so calm around us. I like riding horses and taking care of them.” 

Abby, Class of 2022

The Equine Program is positively shaping students at Cookson Hills. Our students have grown tremendously in their teamwork, social skills, horsemanship skills, and self-confidence. More importantly, the Equine Program has enabled our students to see connections between horses, themselves, and God. As a result, Biblical truths have been concretely demonstrated to our students using the horses.

“The kids get together with the horses and build a relationship with them and with God at the same time.”

Kaylee, Class of 2027

Horses have broken down walls and built bridges between students and staff, and between students and God. Your prayers and donations are currently impacting our students, but they are also eternally impacting our students. Thank you for being part of the work God is doing here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Lynnette Asbury, Equine Specialist & Reading Resource Teacher, is from Colcord, OK. She enjoys having adventures with her husband and sons, riding her horses, and trying out Pioneer Woman's recipes.