In 2004 a mother called and asked if I would give her daughter horse lessons. The girl at that time was a pre-teen and already disrespectful and argumentative to her parents, and disengaged in school as well. When I met this girl for her first lesson, she hardly spoke and never looked me in the eye. This went on about 3 months. Finally, I called her mother. I explained to her mother that the girl is almost unresponsive during lessons. (It’s very difficult to give instruction if you are not sure the student comprehends!) I asked if the girl was being made to takes lessons; and therefore, doesn’t look forward to it. The mother said “No! Her lesson is the highlight of her week. When she gets a bad attitude, I threaten to take the lesson away to get her to behave.” So I continued teaching this girl. Months passed with no change. Finally, after about 8 months since I met the girl, a change happened. She began talking, telling me about her week, asking about horses, and wanting to come even when the weather was not good. The horses changed her through their non-judgmental, unbiased attitude, their willingness to listen and not tell her secrets, and to challenge her in a non-threatening manner. You see, horses don’t judge us because of our status, background, color, or anything else like people do. This girl found a place where she felt accepted. Even in a “good home” (as this girl was from), the teen years can be a place of much change and confusion. A teen feels no one understands them. But, in the presence of a horse they are at peace to just be who they are instead of trying to fit in. They are accepted! That makes us willing to be ourselves, which allows us to grow and learn how to handle challenges that life is handing us. After my relationship continued with this girl for a couple of years, she communicates (although still shy because that’s who she is), she understands perseverance and hard work. This once defiant, challenging girl now willingly mucks stalls for free just to be around the horses, has her own business using her art talents, and is enjoying learning (she actually researches things that interest her!) That’s what we need in society: people who don’t see learning through 12th grade; but, as a life-long process. If a horse has changed this girl’s life, can you think of someone you know who could use the gift of an equine program in their lives?
Written by Royce Gomez, owner of Pillar Ranch. Pillar Ranch offers equine assisted learning programs to individuals, families, groups, and corporations. Royce Gomez makes her home in beautiful Colorado. Royce can be reached at

Author's Bio: 

Royce Gomez works with at-risk youth as well as adults who seek personal improvement. Royce has training through an international organization that instructs professionals in the equine field, showing them how to effectively use horses to facilitate growth and healing in others.