We have one group of volunteers at Pretty Pony Pastures that help when Scout troops or other groups visit us. They are our Program Aids. They are, very literally, our right and left hands with these programs. Their responsibilities include leading the horses if we have Daisy or Brownie Troops; being spotters for Junior and Cadette Troops and Cub/Weblo Scouts. They present information at the various stations that we set up and assist with the grooming of horses before the groups arrive.

The Program Aids receive so much in return. First, after a few sessions, we see such a difference in their self-esteem and confidence.

Grooming with Brownies

Even though every PA is an experienced rider and handler, taking on this responsibility means that they have to focus on being in charge of the horse the entire time the scouts are present. For some, this is the only place they are told that they are in control and responsible for another person. The parents and leaders of the scouts often remark about the great job the PAs do both in handling the horses and working with the riders. We always pass that information to the PA, especially if they were out of ear-shot when the remark was made. They have the realization that they can do something; they are experiencing success.

Every Scout group that visits our facility is divided into patrols or small groups of three or four participants. While one group rides, the other one to three groups participate in other horse activities that are pertinent to their badge or patch. Each group has a PA assigned to them. This PA takes on the role of leader, explaining and teaching the group one aspect of horsemanship, from grooming to parts of the horse to how to care for horses. Now the PAs are practicing public speaking as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.

We have had several reports from the parents of PAs. The PA’s teachers have commented on the growth of the PA in the areas of leadership and speaking in front of the class.

The best part is the PAs are doing something they enjoy, not realizing how it is preparing them for their future.

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