Youthdale riding program demonstrates the power of sport, and exceptional volunteers

For over a decade, children in Youthdale residential programs have had a unique opportunity to learn about riding and experience the joy of working with horses. Thanks to Ellen Downey, owner of Jewel View stables in Hockley Valley, and a host of dedicated volunteers, each Youthdale participant has taken a unique 10-week learn-to-ride program.

Youthdale Treatment Centres provide family mental health programs that focus on the health and well-being of children and youth. Youthdale's residences offer children a secure and welcoming setting, and easy access to experts, services, and community school programs.

The therapeutic value of equestrian programs has been proven time and time again, and this program is no different. Participants look forward to their weekly classes, and report that the program had a great impact on their self-esteem and perspective:

"Around the same time that I had started riding, I was going through some personal struggles. My anxiety had gotten in the way of me being able to attend school on a regular basis. However, I found that the more time I spent with Caruso (16 year-old Warmblood gelding), the more I was able to transfer that positive experience into other places in my life, such as school and family. I'm proud to say that I now attend school on a daily basis." - Nicole

"Thank you so much for the opportunity to explore something new, and overcome my fears. I learned so much through this experience about horses and myself. What a wonderful gain of confidence! - Adena

"Thank you for giving me this "obstacle overcoming" experience. It was great working with you and Tuff (17 year-old gelding). Thanks so much for this experience." - Hayley

Participants are taught basic horsemanship skills, including grooming, tacking, and riding by a professional coach, and each child/horse combination is matched with a trained volunteer. The program director is a former Youthdale staff member with 30 years' experience working with at-risk adolescents, so the children can continue to work on their self-confidence and self-esteem, while having fun in a safe and supportive environment.

To donate to the Youthdale Foundation or the riding program, please Click Here.