Over twenty years ago, the Kentucky Horse Park launched the Mustang Troop in an effort to serve at-risk youth through the channel of horsemanship. The program has long stood as one of the park’s most successful initiatives, and the Mustang Troop has become a beloved institution both at the park and in the community at large.
In recent years, however, the KHP has noticed a shift in the needs of Mustang Troop participants as a whole. While horsemanship naturally lends itself to self-growth, our instructors felt a concentrated mental health focus would truly have a life-changing effect on participants. The KHP was interested in using quality horsemanship and riding instruction not as the end result of the program, but as a means of therapy for students with behavioral and social challenges. It quickly became apparent that the park need only look in its own backyard to find that type of expertise. Central Kentucky Riding for Hope has been doing it for years.
During the summer of 2015, the KHP partnered with CKRH on a limited basis. Mustang Troop participants joined the existing CKRH Stables program on occasion, and instructors from both programs collaborated throughout the process. This initial partnership was successful so the KHP and CKRH have been working closely this winter to develop a fully integrated curriculum for 2016.
This summer, through funds provided by KHPF donors, the Kentucky Horse Park and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope will collaborate to present the KHP/CKRH Equine Troop. Utilizing new resources, new facilities, and new breeds of horses, this outreach program is certain to maintain the mission established decades ago while capitalizing on the resources available and the needs of students.
“The park is fortunate to have many tremendous neighbors and partners. Chief among them is Central Kentucky Riding for Hope. CKRH’s leadership in the area of therapeutic riding is nationally recognized and we are excited that we can collaborate with them to continue serving our communities and bring new life to a program so close to our hearts,” shared Jamie Link, KHP Executive Director.
The newly formed KHP/CKRH Equine Troop will focus on building Life, Social, Relationship, and Resilience skills. Sixteen students, ages 10-17, will have the unique opportunity to build these skills while learning horsemanship and riding over an eight week program. The first half of the program will take place at CKRH and will focus on establishing standards of behavior, building trust and team camaraderie, and learning basic horsemanship. The second half of the program will take place at the KHP where portion of the day will be spent learning horsemanship and riding and portion will be spent experiencing the various attractions of the park.
Pat Kline, CKRH Executive Director, expressed the following, “The Kentucky Horse Park offers a wealth of opportunities for students, from its facilities, to its attractions, to its museums. We welcome the opportunity to work with the park’s gifted equine staff and to fully utilize the resources of the park.”
The KHP is delighted to partner with such an outstanding organization and is actively fundraising to ensure the program’s overall success. If you would like to contribute to the KHP/CKRH Equine Troop, please contact the KHPF office at your convenience at 859-255-5727.