At 51:10 Youth Ranch, our heart is for the family. It is our aim that by matching one child, one horse and one mentor and by hosting community events that families will be encouraged, inspired and affirmed.
Each session is an hour and a half long and occurs once a week for a child. It’s a session and not a lesson because we are not teaching the child how to horseback ride. The child learns basic horsemanship for safety reasons and to respect the animals fully, but the focus is not on the equine academics, but rather the child’s needs. A session is not designed to just be fun, but rather something that will change lives and have an eternal impact.
One child, one leader, one horse. Many times the sessions includes a horse, however, they can also include sewing, painting, playing games, woodworking, training horses, games on horseback, crafts, dressing up in costumes, and gardening. Boys are mentored with men and girls with women. Mentors must be at least 16 years of age.
The sessions start with a “chore.” Part of the buy-in and ownership for the child is being a part of the upkeep of the ranch. The chore should only last 15-20 minutes then the child will tack the horse and spend the remainder of the time in the session (about an hour).
Nothing is set in stone except that we want to love and mentor kids. We want to share the truth of The Lord, encourage and be available. Children will be influenced in society—good or bad. Our hope is that we can be that positive influence, even if just an hour and a half a week, to reflect Christ.
ACTIVITIES WITH HORSES:
- Round Pen: Training, at-will interaction with kids/horses, minimizes distractions, follow the leader
- Painting horses: Fun, play, special occasions, write messages, paint what you are feeling or how your day was.
- Lunge Line: Evaluation, translates to saddle, challenges kids in new ways, fully engages kids, reveals reaction versus response
- Grooming: Horses are not saddled and waiting–kids learn to groom and tack their horses. Relationship building. Foundational skills of working with horses.
- Bathing horses: Kids love it, horses love it—you get to see the horses roll.
- Reasonable vet care: Wounded kids often identify with wounded horses and they identify with the horses healing as well. Empower kids, creating space for them to care for a living creature.
- Telling the horse’s stories: sharing a picture of hope through the testimonies of your horses. All the kids and horses to become part of each other’s story.
- Translating horse behavior: creative ways of teaching what a horse is saying to other horses or people. Gives the horse a voice.
- Rescued horses: working with the horses who came with fear or injuries.
ACTIVITIES ON HORSEBACK:
- Games: Simon says, red-light green light, twister, etc.
- Cones/Poles: Obstacle course, weaving, barrels, big soccer balls, etc.
- Trail riding: Walk the kids and horses around the property on a lead line
- Teaching new skills: teach creativity to keep focus on the relationship and individual accomplishments, fears, challenges, etc…Focus is not on achievement alone.
- Time for the horse and child: balance leader/kid interaction with allowing the kid to have some still time with the horse.
ACTIVITIES WITHOUT HORSES:
- Chores: everyone keeps the place running and beautiful. Explain the intention and reason behind the chore.
- Art boxes: endless opportunities to create, connect, communicate and play
- Volunteering: working with hands, building, fixing, serving, work ethic, team building, challenging, building friendship, personal investment in the ranch. Creates opportunity for investment, ownership and belonging.
- Games/Toy Box: tic-tac-toe in the arena, water balloons, footballs, swings, baseball, soccer, Frisbee, and playing with dogs. Allowing the kids to be kids.
- Talk time: Just talking and listening and sharing your heart. Its important to be in eye-shot of others, even if not in ear-shot.
- Big Soccer
- Crocheting, sewing
Community events are planned once a month to encourage the whole family. Our belief is that in today’s society many things threaten the family including social media, both parents having to work, working long hours, leaving little time for the family to communicate and grow together. These events take place in the evening and encourage whole family participation. Examples include:
- Family competitions on obstacle courses
- Spaghetti or Chili dinners
- Hoedowns (everyone dresses up in Western attire)
- Bonfires with worship
- Sleigh rides
- A military event focused on honoring our troops and educating children (inviting veterans and active soldiers from our community)
- Build-a-game night (such as corn hole boards) – this will encourage families to take them and make the time to play together
- Serving our community – bringing families together to serve our elderly, homeless, veterans, etc… by serving them dinner, creating kits and time to build relationships
- Bringing in resources/speakers such as marriage retreats—parents work with counselors while the kids work with counselors as well.