Lessons from the arena

It takes no small amount of courage to approach a 1,000-pound animal and offer to lead it with a rope.

But the students in Laramie High School’s interpersonal communication class did just that, taking turns guiding horses around the Ark Regional Services Equestrian Arena.

They showed their understanding of the animals by walking beside them, within a horse’s range of vision. They talked in low voices and maintained a steady pace, reported the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/2i3qHF1).

“We’ve learned about respect and what you should do respecting the horses, and how they’ll show us respect,” LHS junior Kiersten Bands said.

Sophomore Anistyn Holt said a black horse named Jet is one of her favorites and one she recommends for others.

“He has the tendency to calm kids down if they’re angry or upset,” she said.

There are 17 horses in the Ark program, and this semester, they’ve been working with students in Albany County School District No. 1 for the first time.

More than 50 students from LHS, Laramie Junior High School, Indian Paintbrush Elementary and Transition Academy have been taking part in an equine-assisted learning curriculum called Cowboy Poetry. Students don’t ride the horses but instead work from the ground.

Ami Egge, vice president of community resources for Ark, said the curriculum uses horses to teach academic skills, character traits and social skills.

“It ties all of that together using the horses as feedback,” she said.

For example, a student can’t effectively work with a horse if he or she is nervous or wound up.


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