Our equestrian program goes beyond learning how to ride. Working with horses fosters social and emotional healing and growth. Many of our students come with trauma and a mistrust of people, but around horses they feel a connection. Fred Bruce, founder and teacher of the program, tells students that they can say anything they want to a horse and they’ll never tell anyone. Students find the horses to be a safe place.

child with horse saddle

Troy is a confident and driven young man, with aspiring ambitions. However, when Troy first stepped foot on our campus as a Freshman, we met a different person. He was extremely behind in his academics, timid, and anxious. Yet, Troy had a natural affinity towards animals that led him to take horsemanship all four years. It was through horsemanship and working with Mr.Bruce, that Troy began to gain confidence, become a leader, and find his place in life. A graduate in the class of 2017, he hopes to return and teach horsemanship and vocational arts.

Jasmine, a previous student, was determined to get off the reservation. That is why she came to Holbrook Indian School, a place she called home. Jasmine loved to be with the horses because she felt more of herself. Jasmine said, “I have no reason to be afraid of a horse because...they’re just horses.” For her, horsemanship lessons were peaceful, silent, and safe.

Our equestrian program includes:

  • Group lessons: Everything from grooming, feeding, and riding.

  • Individual lessons: Learning the relational aspect of working with horses, including exercises, body language and ground work.

Concepts learned:

  • Boundaries

  • Teamwork

  • Cooperation

  • Body language

  • Trust

  • Patience

Gifts made to the equestrian program help students like Troy and Jasmine gain confidence and discover their potential by working with these 1000-pound, beautiful creatures.