Man Feeding HorseHorses play a large role in our program at Sunlight Mountain Cattle Ranch. We firmly believe that learning to care for and ride horses can help young boys learn a thing or two about responsibility, hard work, accountability, patience, and trust, among many other good qualities. We use equine therapy to help the boys destress and have fun as well as integrating horsemanship into the recovery and reformation process.

Horses are intelligent, beautiful and majestic creatures. They can form meaningful relationships with humans and teach them many important lessons. They also require a lot of love, care, and attention. Here is a list of a few of the things we teach the boys at our ranch about how to properly care for horses.

Basic Needs

The boys will quickly learn that at the very least, every horse should have access to the following things to promote the horse’s physical and mental health:

  • A well-maintained pasture free from hazards such as holes, loose wire fences, and sharp farm machinery or tools.
  • Safe fencing.
  • Plenty of grass or hay for grazing and fresh water.
  • A stable or another form of shelter to protect them from harsh weather.
  • A clean area to lie down and rest.
  • Positive relationships with other animals.

Feeding the Horses

  • The difference between quality hay and dangerous hay.
  • The supplements that horses need to take to stay healthy.
  • How to identify which plants are dangerous to horses, and which ones aren’t.

Sheltering the Horses

  • The most common forms of shelter for horses, including barns, run-in shelters, and stables.
  • How to properly maintain the horse’s shelter to make it safe and comfortable.
  • How to decide on how much time horses should spend in shelter compared with staying outside.

Keeping the Horses Healthy

  • How to take the horse’s vital signs.
  • How to deal with colic, one of the most common dangers that face horses.
  • How to recognize a healthy horse and a sick horse.
  • How to control parasites that commonly infect horses.

Grooming the Horses

  • How to groom the horses properly, quickly, and thoroughly.
  • How to decide whether a horse needs horseshoes or not.
  • How to check for any abnormalities in the horse’s skin and hooves.

Riding the Horses

  • How to properly mount and dismount horses.
  • How to ride horses.
  • Different styles of horseback riding.
  • How to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while riding horses.

Providing the Best Environment for Horses

  • How to care for different breeds of horses, older horses, young horses, unhealthy horses, and more.
  • Finding the right companion for a horse.
  • Keeping the surrounding areas well-maintained.