Students from the School District of Lancaster had a “horse of a good time” while visiting Longshot Stables with their mentors from Color of Teaching at Millersville University. Collaborating with the Equestrian club at MU, the organizations were able to present an opportunity for inner city students to interact with their mentors and animals in a rural setting.
“This event allowed them to come out of their comfort zone and do things they normally do not do in their everyday lives such as grooming, riding and feeding a horse,” said Cary Sanchez, President of Color of Teaching. “When I reached out to the Equestrian club I was also thinking in social work perspective on how this event could be a form of therapy for students.”
Mentees included students in middle school and high school, many of whom had never interacted with horses or other farm animals before. Learning to properly groom and care for the horses allowed mentors, mentees and the Equestrian club members to join together in an educational and personal experience. Interacting with the horse trainers, students and farm animals provided opportunities to break out of their shells and become more confident.
“I think the event helped make them feel more important, said Molly Larkin, Vice President of the Equestrian club. “They realized that they could actually speak out and ask questions and have them answered. I think it was good because sometimes when you are a minority of a group, some people tend to close in. It was good for them to speak out.”
Sanchez used this opportunity as an extension of her efforts in using both learning components with unique experiences to support the knowledge gained. Mentees were able to interact closely with animals after learning the safety guidelines of handling them. This included the proper order of brushes used in grooming the horses, learning where to stand, learning how to approach the animals and how to use the proper body language and read the animals’ body language. Equestrian club members while riding the horses in the indoor arena led Mentees.
“I took a lot of joy from the experience,” said Miranda Snyder, Public Relation Manager for the Equestrian club. “I truly enjoy sharing something I’m passionate about with them. Society’s issues have to do with not knowing things accurately or completely, so I think there is importance in sharing different aspects of living with people that don’t get to live it.”
Mentees were able to become closer to each other and will have an experience that they can share with others in the future, creating a better awareness of diversity in their living communities.
“Color of Teaching has events for the mentees once a month, during those events the students already know one another but at this event there were two students who were joining Color of Teaching for the first time and the other mentees made them feel welcome, encouraged them while they were riding on the horse which created a new bond among everyone,” said Sanchez.
Color of Teaching will be hosting one more event through club collaboration this semester, in which mentees will learn how to step with F.U.S.I.O.N. step team.