Using Horses To Inspire Kids – Horse Mentorship Program

Chris Ruthven, Caren Ruthven and friend with Horse Mentorship student Brandon during his summer visitMeet Brandon, one of C&C Colt Company's Horse Mentorship Program students (we have something horsey for ALL ages!).  Brandon is 12 years old and has been coming to visit us for the past 3 years from Wisconsin.  Brandon is the only one of the five kids in his family that has a love of horses!  We met Brandon through one of his relatives who lives here in Texas and who happens to be one of our clients. When Brandon's family was down for a visit, she would haul her horse over and we would supply Brandon with a horse to ride so we could all go ride together.  

The first year Brandon came, he rode Caren's old Parelli horse Katie.  We were super impressed with Brandon's riding ability.  He had Katie jumping over jumps, walking over the bridge, doing all the obstacles on the obstacle course. And he was only about 9 years old at that time, and even with Katie being a 16-hand Paint mare, he handled her with no problems at all – like he had been riding all his life.

We enjoyed having Brandon around so much that the second year he came out, we suggested to him that he should come stay with us for his summer vacation.  That day when they left, we got a call from the relative that Brandon stays with.  Apparently he was so upset about having to leave to go back home that he cried the entire drive back to her house.  Month's later Brandon's mother phoned us to inquire about coming to visit again. She asked if we were really serious about Brandon coming to stay for a while or were we just being nice and saying that?  Of course, we said we were quite serious about it, and we would LOVE for him to come stay with us.  So she said "Okay, let me work on that!"  It's a big deal to think about letting your young son or daughter go to another state and stay somewhere without you!  But, in May of 2014, she called back and said, "Okay, how does 15 days in July sound?  We'll bring him to you, stay for a few days with him to adjust, then come home and leave him with you there."  We were thrilled!  

July came, we dropped one student off at the airport to go home and picked up Brandon and his mom the same day to bring them to our place.  His mom stayed with us for 3 days to help him adjust.  But of course, as you would expect when we dropped her off at the airport and drove off, he cried for a bit because he'd never been away from his mom.  So to help get his mind off his sadness, we took him to our friend's boat dock and hung out to swim at the lake and had dinner at the boat dock.  Brandon thoroughly enjoyed himself and we all had a lot of fun together.  

The next day, he was just fine and rearing to go.  So over the period of his stay he learned how to drive the golf cart, how to clean stalls, feed the horses…all the normal everyday horse care chores.  Teaching kids responsibility and giving them physical, as well as mental, acitivites and chores is a great way to help boost self-esteem, not to mention burn off that over-abundance of energy that often gets kids into trouble :-)  Brandon also learned how to safely approach and catch a horse when you are only 3 feet tall yourself!  As well as how to pick up feet, groom, etc.  He would just pick up a step stool and go to town grooming the horses. Brandon got to ride pretty much every day, sometimes even riding multiple horses.  We could put him on anything, and he rode them all very well.  His only problems being finding out how to actually get onto the horse with his short legs!  

During his stay we did lots of other activities, like trips to shop at the local western store, attending horse shows, visits with our neighbors, and watching movies to keep his little boy short attention span satiated.  And every day he loved, loved, loved napping on the biomat!

We were so impressed with Brandon and his level of natural ability with horses and the level of responsibility and interest for a boy his age that we decided to gift one of our young geldings to him under the condition that his parent's could afford the horse and were agreed that it was okay for him to have him.  He was over the moon excited!  His parents agreed to talk it over between them and see.  This last Christmas, his mom asked for a picture of Night (the horse we gifted him) to give Brandon because he was missing him so much. So we are still waiting for a final decision, but all parties have their fingers crossed.  

Horse Mentorship student Brandon with his horse Night during his summer visit

Brandon's mother said this about his time with us – "He grew to appreciate the hard work it takes to train horses and grew to love horses even more.  He realized that is what he wants to do, and learned there are better ways to treat a horse.  He learned how to become one with a horse.  He loved learning the proper way to treat a horse."

We are looking forward to seeing Brandon again next summer, whom we are sure will be even bigger and just as enthusiastic as he was last year!  

Check out the video of Brandon learning to catch and halter one of our babies, and even picking up her feet.  

If you'd like to learn more about the many horsemanship programs C&C Colt Company has available, please feel free to contact us at cccoltcompany1@gmail.com.  

 


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