Horses for the Spirit is a 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to partnering humans and horse for positive transformation through our programs which combine the principles of Equine-Assisted Learning, Parelli Natural Horsemanship™, “learning by doing” and creative problem-solving.
Our programs have been developed to teach positive life and social skills to kids generally between the ages 12 and 19.
Horses are an essential part of the teaching team and natural horsemanship is the vehicle for teaching. The desired end result is that the graduates of our programs have acquired skills in areas such as leadership, teamwork, problem solving, managing behavior and more.
One of our favorite stories is of Kevin, who had been in serious trouble and had spent most of his life in residential facilities. Kevin was a kid with a bleak future… until he met one of our horses named Henry.
Kevin didn’t have much going his way as a kid. He lived in group homes from the age of nine to 18. He explains that he was a bashful person, not very sure of himself and lacking self-esteem. He certainly didn’t see himself as a leader.
In 2006, at the age of 16, while living at Hand Up Homes for Youth, Kevin and the other boys in the group home participated in a unique Equine Assisted Learning program called Horse Power for Youth offered by Horses for the Spirit in Reno, Nevada.
Equine Assisted Learning programs employ horses as a crucial part of the teaching team and the programs are designed to teach positive life and social skills, such as teamwork, leadership, clear communication and problem-solving, in a setting that encourages self-reliance and builds confidence.
“The leadership skills and all the assertive skills were things that weren’t just corny,” says Kevin, “we could actually use them. I started to realize after going out in the community from the group home that the skills we learned in the (Horses for the Spirit) program helped us in the community as well.”
Kevin compares working with Henry, his horse in the program, to being a leader for 300 soldiers. “I learned to stand my ground with Henry and I also got to use that in the Army.”
According to Kevin, the Horses for the Spirit program felt more genuine than other programs. “I felt like I was actually doing something, not just talking to talk. I was walking the walk. We were learning skills that helped us a lot and still do,” reports Kevin. At the time, he used the skills to live more peacefully with the other boys in the group home and now he uses the skills in his family life and in the workplace as well, especially when he’s in a position of authority.
Kevin spent two years in the Army after leaving Hand Up Homes. Now 20 years old, he is pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. He credits Horses for the Spirit’s program for helping him see himself as a leader, boosting his self-esteem and finding the potential within to pursue a fulfilling and productive life outside of the one he’d known for so long in the residential facilities.
He says simply, “I appreciate Horses for the Spirit.”
Robbie Maus, co-founder and Program Director, remains in touch with Kevin after all this time.