Barn Buddies

Barn Buddy Ambassadors


2013:  Peg Smith, Chair, Nancy Baker, Butch Boeshort, Gary Bomar, Carol A. Bratton, Jan Burns, Buddy B. Fisher, Gayle Hart, Kit Horne, Loretta McBeath, Kay Richards, Heather Ryan

Hendrick Home Staff

Barbara Dahl, Lora Jones, David Miller, David Perkins


Barn Buddies is a volunteer, horse husbandry-support program that undergirds the Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy program at Hendrick Home for Children. Volunteers teach children, ages five and older, about basic horse science and horsemanship covering basic horse anatomy, health, nutrition and training.

All children at Hendrick Home for Children in the Basic Care and Family Care programs participate in EAP. Each child participates in grooming, leading and handling, saddling and basic western riding lessons.

A strong emphasis is placed on safety, both around the barn and on horses.


Hendrick Home for Children provides Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, EAP, as an approach to professional counseling that helps people of all ages address behavioral, emotional, spiritual and relational issues using a horse as a interventional tool.  Children attend twice a week and are accompanied by a licensed professional therapist with a master’s degree in social work who is certified by EAGALA, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. Our advanced horse specialist certified by EAGALA also is in attendance during all therapy sessions.

EAP is a non-threatening and action-oriented team approach to counseling that includes a licensed counselor, horse professional and horse. This approach helps clients cope with traumas, abuse, anxiety, depression, social skills and communication issues. It also helps children cope with change and develop positive means of facing life’s struggles through the use of team-building activities with horses.

Boy and his horseWhy horses?  Horses have long been man’s helpmate.  They are trainable and have adaptable characterisitics that are imperitive for today’s survival.  Horses do not lie; they do not separate how they feel from how they act. They force participants to communicate with depth and transparency.

The main purpose of EAP is to develop insight and skills that children can transfer back to their lives.  The program is developed with prolbem-solving activities set up as metaphors for the children’s lives and relationships.  At the end of the activity, we have a process group to evaluate their problem-solving strategies an discuss each child’s feelings generated by the activity.

Several studies have been done to measure the effectiveness of equine-assisted therapy versus traditional therapeutic sessions. In nearly all cases adolescents who received Equine therapy on average experienced greater total therapeutic change in psychosocial function than those who received no training. Bettina Shultz author of “The Effects of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy on the Psychosocial Functioning of At-Risk Adolescents ages 12-18” states that the scores are 15.77 and 32.11 points greater than at-risk adolescents who are not participating in EAP. Statistically there is only a 5 percent change this is due to error or randomness.