The Boys Ranch Academy Equine Therapy Boarding Schools for Boys

Equine Therapy

Our equine therapy is the backbone of the Ranchs character

development program. This unique equine therapy curriculum

is designed to utilize parallels in equine and human behavior

in order to encourage positive social growth in at-risk

students. Initially, our equine program instructors present

basic horse care, safety, and handling techniques using

hands-on methods to all new residents. Students are required

to earn the privilege to ride and drive the Ranchs horses.

In order to advance in the equine therapy program three-level

system, students must display improvement in all three of

the major areas of the equine therapy programs developmental

criteria. Each of the programs levels is designed to encourage

progressive growth and development in our residents. As

students begin to understand horse behavior and the humane

methods used to modify or eliminate negative behaviors,

they are able to identify and correct changes in their own

actions and interactions with others. Students who successfully

complete the requirements for the programs third level receive

a Trainers Apprentice certificate that details the accomplishments

necessary for graduation from the equine therapy program.

  • The three areas in which students are evaluated
  • Character Development
  • Attitude and Behavior
  • Horsemanship


Boys to Train Horses

…a place where problem teens learn to correct problem

horses. Once they have achieved the programs second and

third levels, the students begin training unbroke and problem

horses using internationally-renowned horse trainer Kenny

Harlows Training with Trust techniques. The Ranchs equine

therapy program instructor, Zeta Adcock, having formerly

completed an apprenticeship with Harlow, has graduated from

Harlows intensive year long Trainers Certification program.

Adcock has also attended Roger Thom’s driving school in

Centre County, PA, where students learn harnessing and hitching

safety and the techniques necessary for driving multiple-horse


The Ranch frequently hosts guest riding instructor and certified

trainer, David A. Adcock, who specializes in hunter/jumper,

dressage, and three-day event training.

  • Factors that Build Life Skills through Equine Education
  • The use of equine handling exercises to teach relationship

    and parenting skills

  • The importance of equine health and care maintenance
  • Budget and financial planning
  • Technology in media
  • Social skills

Factors that Build Character through

Equine Therapy

Discipline: –All students begin the equine

therapy program by learning proper grooming and handling

techniques before riding privileges are attained. Students

must exhibit the ability to follow specific safety rules,

and must be able to respond to direction by the staff in

order to remain involved in the program.

Patience: -Students will learn to accept

success, as well as failure, in the handling and management

of horses. All students will appreciate that horses do not

always initially recognize and respond to human authority.

Through their experience in horse handling, students will

recognize and develop personality traits that enable positive

growth in areas of respect to and compliance with authority.

Students will learn proper handling and riding techniques

that will allow them to create a safe and effective relationship

with horses.

Handling and Overcoming Fear: -Students

will experience both positive and negative aspects of fear.

Horses are naturally predisposed to react to fearful situations

by fight or flight responses much like humans. The young

men will learn to recognize the positive effects of fear

in potentially dangerous situations; however, through trust-building

management techniques, the students will strive to encourage

a horse to overcome its own naturally-occurring fear in

many circumstances. Students will acknowledge their own

innate response to danger in a manner that will allow them

to evaluate and make informed choices concerning their life

direction. *Trust: A comprehensive view of all equine training

programs documents trust as the key principle to achieving

response and relationships between horse and handler. Students

will learn to acquire trust from the horses in the program

through handling exercises and real-life riding experiences

on the trail. Students will experience natural difficulties

in practices such as loading, clipping, and obstacle crossing

that will require a significant level of trust between horse

and handler for successful results to occur.

Perseverance:– Rarely does a horse exhibit

complete submission to an authority figure at the start

of training. Students must be willing to perform countless

hours of repetitive and redundant training exercises to

ensure a safe and compliant mount.

Anger Management:– We believe that horses

are perfect tools for teaching anger management skills in

an authentic, social domain. Horses, like humans, seldom

respond positively to abusive and tyrannical treatment.

In the event of such treatment, trusting and respectful

relationships are destroyed. Students will learn to control

and redirect negative feelings, such as anger, jealousy,

and bitterness in order to channel their energies in positive

ways to achieve success. No training techniques learned

by the students will involve abusive behavior. Any student

who abuses a horse will no longer be permitted to work with

the equine program until their behavioral issues are addressed

in concordance with counseling procedures at the Ranch.

Responsibility:– Students will be responsible

for the complete care and management of the horses, barn,

tack, and equipment. Under the direction of the equine staff,

three students will earn the privilege of “horse chores.”

Those students will complete chores and tasks involved in

the equine management program. These students are responsible

for recording feeding schedules, shoeing, and other health

care appointments and procedures. All of the students will

be responsible for grooming, handling, and saddling their

own mount for the day in a safe manner. At the end of lessons,

each student will use appropriate judgment for cooling down

horses and for putting away tack, equipment, and supplies

for future use.

Accountability:- The failure of students

to respect safety rules could result in disaster. Likewise,

the failure of students to exhibit patience, perseverance,

and anger management in training exercises could result

in chaos. Students will learn through their experiences

with our equine program that the end product of their own

actions is apparent to others, is long lasting, and may

require reparations, or may result in rewards.

Leadership:- Horses are herd animals and

possess a natural instinct to follow a strong, reliable

leader. Horses, by nature, will turn from an unreliable

leader that endangers the well being of the herd. Self-esteem

that is built on honesty, responsibility, and accountability

will be stressed throughout the program. The young men who

are involved in the equine program at the Ranch will achieve

skills through horse handling and management to be strong,

self-confident, and fair leaders in their families, churches,

and communities.