Ivey Ranch is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing unique learning opportunities that strengthen and develop lives. The methodology we use includes partnering students with horses to promote healthy life skills and develop strength-based assets that stimulate positive behavioral changes. This process is called Equine Assisted Learning or EAL.

Each EAL session is designed to teach individuals to set goals, develop a plan, implement that plan, achieve the goal, and analyze the outcomes. The interactive lessons with horses allow the students to self-discover and improve their processes to achieve the best possible outcome.

Why horses? Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working in partnership with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the easy way are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life. Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods, just like humans. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another, just like humans. At times they seem stubborn and defiant, just like humans. They like to have fun, just like humans. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using the horse and his behavior for discussion or activity is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging students.

Students are normally out of their comfort zone in the ranch environment and immediately look to the Ivey staff for guidance, support, and direction. Accomplishing a task involving a 1200 pound horse creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

This program is made possible by the Nordson Corporation Foundation and the Military Spouse Association of Camp Pendleton (MSACP). In collaboration with the Transitional Youth Academy of Interfaith Community Services, El Camino High School students were the first to participate in the “Emerging Leaders” program. Since the program’s inception, students, active duty military and Veterans, and therapy participants have experienced the benefits of EAL.

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