Animal Assisted Therapy
The Ranch's Horse Program
The horse barn program, lead by Wade Kirkwood, Program Director is focused on improving a variety of characteristics and life skills: self-esteem, trust, communication, problem-solving, goal-setting, listening, responsibility, patience, and a sense of accomplishment. The goal is to help boys build these traits and abilities then aid them to transfer what they learn in the horse program to other areas of their lives. The format of the program allows us to counsel boys in an informal and enjoyable way. While much of what goes on at the horse barn may on the surface relate strictly to horses, every activity can and does have therapeutic value.
The use of horses in the program is very important
for a number of reasons. First, horseback riding is a
fun activity, but one that inherently requires trust,
responsibility, communication, patience and it teaches self-discipline. Second, because of their uniqueness, the development of horsemanship skills enhances self-esteem. A good self-image improves performances in school and all other areas of a young man's life. Third, many of the issues involved in riding, training, and caring for horses can easily be related to issues children may be dealing with at home and at school such as controlling anger, learning to communicate feelings effectively, and setting and achieving realistic goals.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the riding program is the ability to graphically and repeatedly illustrate therapeutic concepts so the boys internalize what they learn and can transfer these skills to other aspects of daily living.
The Ranch's Livestock Program
Much like the horse program, the livestock show program is therapeutic by nature. To be successful, a young man must devote a great deal of time and effort working with and caring for an animal to prepare it for a stock show. We currently concentrate on goats. The Ranch breeds and raises most of the goats that the boys present at the Irion County Jr. Livestock Show as well as major shows in Fort Worth, San Antonio and San Angelo.
The program teaches responsibility and offers a chance for healthy competition as well as an opportunity for success and reward. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this program is the social involvement and experiences enjoyed by the boys as they travel around the state to various shows. The exposure to other successful youth and positive role models in this environment is priceless.
Ranch & Farm
While living at WTBR, boys have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of life on a ranch. Through our summer work program, boys have a chance to get some hands-on experience and earn some money at the same time. Through the supervision of staff, work projects include such things as building or repairing fences, clearing brush, building maintenance and repair, welding, and grounds maintenance. With the 550 acres of farmland on the ranch, boys can learn about plowing and seeding crops for our livestock. The boys are also involved in caring for the small herd of cattle and goats as well as the horses.
Boys also have the opportunity to learn about safe and proper methods to handle firearms through the Irion County 4-H shooting sports program. Young men can learn how to handle a rifle and shoot competitively.
This provides another opportunity for success and accomplishment. Boys can also earn the privilege to go on to supervised deer hunts at area ranches after they have completed the Hunter's Safety Training Course
and demonstrated the appropriate behavior level.
We recently initiated a program to train our boys in leather craft. Here they learn about skills related to saddle construction and repair as well as making items such as belts and wallets.
There is also a welding shop and a woodworking shop where boys have the opportunity to work on projects of their own, or as a group. This summer the boys constructed a new boat dock on Spring Creek and a new barbecue pit - both projects of the woodworking and welding shops.
The goal of these activities is to give the young men some practical experience and also provide opportunities for success and accomplishment. It all contributes to building confidence and positive self-esteem.
Ranch & Farm