Learning about horses and children
February 2, 2012
We first started working with Brandon about six months ago – quite by accident. My husband, John, and I would see this tousled-haired young man around the stables but didn’t think much about it.
After all, we had a Saturday morning off from work and badly wanted to ride our two horses. But Brandon had taken a shine to John’s quarter horse, Durango. We would often see him by Durango’s paddock, rubbing him, talking to him, and giving him treats.
So one morning, we found ourselves asking Brandon if he would like to ride Durango someday under his riding instructor’s supervision. His face lit up and he asked “when?” As it turned out, Barbara Slade, the president and program director of a local non-profit “Between Horses and Humans”, was working with Brandon and other children who clearly were not growing up with the advantages many of us had.
These are children experiencing behavioral, emotional and personal issues. Barbara, with her 47 years of equine experience, has dedicated her career to “giving back” to the horses and the people who shaped her life.
She is now sharing her experiences with as many children as she can, and is empowering them by building their leadership skills and their self-esteem.
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John and I were intrigued by the progress Brandon and other children were making working with this program and with, not only Barbara, but also with an exceptional caliber of volunteers, all very busy people, who were taking the time to make a difference in these children’s development.
We wanted to be a part of it. So when I found Brandon standing outside of my little black Arabian’s paddock, I quickly asked him if he would like to ride “Mijo”. So as they say – it was meant to be.
John and I are unsure as to who is getting the most out of these sessions with Brandon and Barbara. It is a joy to see him develop and for us to take note of his intelligence and eagerness to learn. It is equally joyful to see Barbara work her magic with both rider and horse.
We have a nickname for these extraordinary “teachers.” They are now called “Brandon’s Brigade.”