In early 2009, The Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic and MARE Riding Center partnered to create the Stable Skills Program, an innovative equine-assisted psychotherpay program focused on helping children reach their mental health goals. Since then, over 100 clients have participated in the program, making Stable Skills our largest and longest running partner program.
Hippotherapy has been used to assist children with physical disabilities improve their strength, balance, posture, and coordination since the early 1940's. This early work also demonstrated strong psychological benefits for riders. A clients ability to handle the horse inspires confidence, teaches responsibility, and promotes teamwork, encourages communication, and builds trust. Stable Skills is Kern County's only equine-assisted psychotherapy program.
Stable Skills provides Child Guidance clients the opportunity for dynamic interaction with the MARE horses and trainers. The curriculum focuses on developing social and behavioral tools for children living in low socio-economic households in both Metropolitan and North Bakersfield. Each of the 2-hour long sessions center around a curriculum developed to:
· Improve social skills and relationship building capabilities
· Improve coping skills
· Increase self-concept and confidence
· Improve communication skills and appropriate emotional expression
· Increase feelings of power and control in one’s life
· Improve academic performance and attendance
· Develop positive character traits such as respect, courage and leadership
The curriculum goals are achieved through group therapy, social interaction, riding, and caring for the horses. The groups are facilitated by therapists and intervention specialists accompanied by instruction from horse trainers.
Riders learn the art of therapeutic vaulting. Vaulting is a style of competitive riding often referred to as gymnastics on horseback; therapeutic vaulting utilizes the same basic techniques but rather than focusing on competition between riders, the focus is on providing each rider with opportunities for success. The additional challenge of performing maneuvers on a moving horse retains the riders’ commitment to the group and provides the rider a greater sense of accomplishment.
The Stable Skills program is designed to work in coordination with traditional clinical treatment to address the mental health needs of children. By introducing equine-facilitated group therapy to a client’s treatment plan, therapists are able to engage their client, open new avenues of discussion, and introduce new interventions. The Stable Skills helps to expedite a client’s treatment and help them achieve their mental health goals.
If you would like to support the Stable Skills Program, click the support button below or visit our friends at MARE Riding Center.