GREENSBURG — In 2014, Triple R Equine Rescue Ranch will expand its Unbridled Potential program to include “Barnyard Buddies.”
Triple R assistant and Greensburg director of tourism Melanie Maxwell told the Daily News that, to her understanding, Barnyard Buddies expands upon the principles of Unbridled Potential.
Greensburg Junior High School Special Education Teacher Heather Sanders and others at GJHS created Unbridled as an alternative learning program that pairs “at-risk” kids with horses. The program is geared to help kids learn cooperation, leadership, responsibility, teamwork and patience. Students in the program are typically struggling academically, socially or behaviorally – perhaps all three – with many coming from dysfunctional or strained homes.
Kids in the Unbridled program are exposed to the horses and their personalities a little at a time, in gradual steps; contact and interaction between student and horse is increased in distinct increments, with students eventually expected to learn to care for and ride the animals. Organizers hope kids will become adept at working with the horses by the time the program ends, providing a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
Barnyard Buddies, Maxwell explained, is like a logical next step for Unbridled Potential, likening it to a kind of animal version of “Big Brothers, Big Sisters,” where the horse becomes a mentor of sorts to the student involved.
According to materials published by the facility, the “R” in Triple R stands for “Rescue, Rehab and Retirement.” The facility serves as shelter and refuge for horses that might be termed as the animal kingdom’s version of “at risk.” The animals taken-in at Triple R are frequently rescued from abusive or negligent owners or from owners who simply don’t have the resources to provide adequate care. Many of the animals are adopted away from Triple R, but others are considered unadoptable due to physical defects, or extreme abuse or negligence.