Sinte Gleska University Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi (TGKP) “Bringing the Family Back to Life” Children’s Mental Health Center held their annual Teen Horse Handler Training Camp, June 7th through June 10th, 2021 at the SGU Horse Ranch. Five local teens, along with Ranch and Program staff participated along with three visitors, Dr.Joy Ruiz-Molleston, Dr. Lisa Ruiz and Dr. Glenn Ruiz from Moscati Meadows treatment center in the Philippines. Moscati Meadows plans to incorporate equine therapy into their drug and alcohol treatment center. They attended the training to learn more about the TGKP program and equine therapy. Horses are not common in the Philippines and their treatment center will be the first to offer equine assisted therapy.
Ron Frederick from SDSU extension presented information on the care, safety, and behavior of horses as well as horse anatomy, horse handling and first aid. This information laid a foundation of knowledge for the horse handlers in training.
Participants also learned and practiced grooming, how to halter and bridle a horse and how to put on riding pads. TGKP Therapists offered basic information on mental health issues and familiarized participants with issues children often deal with in equine therapy.
Next, the handlers took part in a team building exercise, putting up a Tipi. While doing so, they learned about traditional family behaviors and values. Participants also rode horses each day and learned to tether other horses as they will do this while working with upcoming children’s horse camps. Later in the day, Justin Baker of TGKP, provided some training on recovery from addictions via zoom for our visitors from his hospital bed in Rapid City where he is recovering from an accident.
On the last day of the camp handlers competed in the “Horse Handler Olympics.” This was a timed event to showcase the skills they learned during the week, such as unloading bags of feed, pounding in a metal fence post, and bridling a horse. The 5 youth horse handlers completed their training, received certificates and will assist staff during the upcoming summer horse camps. The camp ended with a cookout attended by participants and their families. It was a great week!
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