Equine Program

Therapists and the Equine Director at Moonridge Academy are trained and certified as Equine Assisted Counselors. Each student participates in Equine Therapy groups and in individual Equine Therapy sessions as determined by her Treatment Plan.  Girls learn to build trust and confidence with these incredibly intuitive animals.  Horses give a completely honest reflection of what's happening internally with a girl.  Therapists use the relationship between the girl and the horse to gather immediate feedback on emotional stability, levels of confidence, trust and team-building.  Horses will often mirror a young teenage girls' emotions.  Our students quickly recognize themselves in the horses and become very committed to not only helping the horse, but also working through their own issues.

In addition to Equine Therapy, students also receive weekly horseback riding instruction under the direction of our Equine Director.  Students are taught the English Hunter/Jumper style of horseback riding.  Many of the students choose to compete at local horse shows, which generally occur during the months of May-October.  Finally students take care of our horses on a daily basis.  This includes daily barn chores that include feeding/watering horses, grooming as needed, and cleaning the horse area.  

There is an old saying that states, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." Horses play an important role in the healing process at Moonridge Academy. Equine (horse) therapy has gained wide acceptance as a powerful way of teaching important life-lessons. Our students are likely to experience some of the following benefits: 

  • Develop Courage:  Some of our girls are initially afraid of horses. Riding such large animals is different from anything they have experienced before. As they learn to conquer their initial fear and discover how gentle and affectionate the horses really are, they also begin developing a new pattern of challenging old fears and finding from within the courage to improve.

  • Increased Self-Confidence and Direction: Horsemanship is a new skill for most of our students. They experience the increased confidence that comes from learning how to do something potentially frightening or different. While riding, they learn to be decisive and to provide clear directions to their horse, lessons which often have carryover application into the rest of their lives.

  • Improved Communication Skills:  Horses are keenly aware of the non-verbal cues of their riders. As our students become more aware of how their non-verbal communication affects the horse and how that horse reacts, they also grow more aware of the role that their non-verbal cues play with the important relationships in their lives.

  • Discipline and Positive Focus:  Students are involved in the day-to-day tasks of caring for a horse. Many students learn improved self-discipline through performing a task that the horse needs another to do and cannot do on its own. They often find that this process diverts their focus attention from the negative thought patterns of the past into a more positive, pro-active way of dealing with their problems.

  • Improved Ability to Trust: Our students learn you can develop a relationship and trust something that is bigger than themselves. This is especially important for victims of trauma.

  • Self-Acceptance:  The unconditional acceptance of friendship that an animal can give allows some of our students to accept themselves for who they are, and is often a positive first step in developing normal relationships. As our students feel accepted by a horse, they often come to terms with themselves in a way that allows them to accept themselves as well.

  • Respect for Others:  Horses only respond positively when the proper respect exists with the student. As our students learn both to earn and give that respect, life-lessons of earning and giving respect with family members and friends are an important byproduct.