Animals can help

“Look, sir, I did it!”

Libbie, 14, squealed with excitement.

Libbie’s accomplishment was in getting her horse, Sooner, to follow her direction and turn in a circle. It was a simple task, but a giant first step for someone still so new to Cal Farley’s.

“I felt happy and accomplished because I was able to get it to go,” she beamed.

It was the young Indiana native’s first interaction with a horse, and one she won’t soon forget. Libbie has lived at Cal Farley’s only a few months, but she’d been waiting to learn basic horsemanship since her first day with us.

“When I came on my first day, Mr. (Ryan Lynn, youth activities coordinator) was here … talking to me about it,” Libbie said. “I thought it’d be fun.”

At Cal Farley’s, learning basic horsemanship is much more than fun. Strictly speaking, it’s not among Cal Farley’s horse therapy programs. But, for the youth who participate, there’s plenty therapeutic about it.

Libbie said her success with Sooner gave her confidence she can do well in other areas.

Areas like her relationships with others. As the evening’s events grew to a close, the small group of new Cal Farley’s youth stood side-by-side, brushing their horses. Youth with many lessons left to learn about trust and friendship now were smiling, laughing and, most importantly, beginning to open up to each other about their lives and feelings.

“It was great. I got to spend more time with (fellow Boys Ranch youth) Lexus, and we’ve bonded more. And, to bond with Mr. Lynn more, too,” Libbie said.

It was just a single hour with a horse, a peer and a mentor.

For Libbie, though, it may also have been the start of a much greater journey.

Equine-Assisted programming

Prayer rides a unique spiritual experience

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