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Spring Events

Hi all! We’re now in our third week of the Spring term, which means we’ve just about adjusted to the weekly routine. There were some speed bumps the first couple of weeks, either due to weather cancellations or staff, students, and volunteers being out sick. But by now, things have more or less settled down. With several schools having Spring Break this week, we have a little lighter load before we dive into the meat of the term. While we’re in the calm between storms, I wanted to let y’all know a little bit about upcoming events!

  • The first ever Red Barn Parent Social will be on Tuesday, April 4th at the White house from 6:30-7:30. Our Red Barn parents have told us how much they love coming to the Barn and meeting other parents, so this is an excellent opportunity to have fun, mingle, and enjoy some adult time. Refreshments will be served at the event. Future Parent Socials will be held the first Tuesday of each month. If you have any questions feel free to email Grace!
  • The Horse Through Art class will be offered on Saturdays from 3:00 – 4:30 starting on April 22nd through May 27th. Students will learn about the seven elements of art as they paint, draw, photograph, and make dioramas of horses. The cost is $200, with scholarships available if needed. Register here.
  • The 3rd Annual Take the Reins Run in memory of Corporal Clay Ward will be held Saturday, June 10th at Veteran’s Park in Hoover. The run will consist of both a 5k and a 10k this year. For more information visit our site dedicated to the run here.

I think that covers it for now! Of course, our schedule is ever evolving, but we’ll be sure to keep y’all up to date as soon as any new events or classes arise. We hope everyone is having a wonderful Spring so far and look forward to see you all either at these events or during lessons!


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Spring Term Meetings!

For the first time ever, the Barn invited both parents and volunteers to meet with instructors the week before riding lessons officially began. Traditionally, we would speak with parents over the phone to discuss their goals for their child in the upcoming term. However, this time around we decided to invite parents and volunteers to meet in person. This way, everyone involved would have a firmer grasp on goals and expectations for the student. It should help with lesson planning and ensuring everything goes smoothly for the first week, which naturally has been a bit of a feeling out period in the past.

While the instructors met with the parents and volunteers, the students had ground lessons with other staff members. I was mostly a part of the ground lesson crew. Still, I want to share some insight not only from the ground lessons, but also from the instructor meetings I did attend.

The ground lessons were pretty diverse. For one group of boys, we went on a nature walk before ending up down by the bunnies and goats and spending time with them. For a pair of girls, we had a huge dance party and played a color matching game with saddle pads during breaks while we recuperated our dancing energy (side note: I now know every lyric to Taylor  Swift’s “Shake It Off”). Another ground lesson included herd observation to help a new student get to know our horses better. One final lesson consisted of a scavenger hunt for different animals and the tracks they make, followed by drawing said tracks with shaving cream. Unsurprisingly, the drawing turned into an all-out shaving cream war.

The meetings went well, too. Parents, volunteers, and instructors all met together and covered a range of topics. Both parents and instructors discussed their respective goals for the student. This helped both parties, as well as the volunteers, develop a clearer idea of how the lessons will be molded this upcoming Spring. In addition, we covered emergency and safety drills in case of fire, tornado, or any other serious event. If time permitted, we ran through a mock lesson of the mounting process – who would be the horse-handler, where each side-walker would be, and any other particulars for that individual student.

Overall, I think these meetings helped everyone involved feel much more comfortable going into this term. Parents were able to voice any new or important information about their children ahead of time, help shape lesson plans with their goals, and finally got to sit down and truly get to know the volunteers working with their kids. Instructors and volunteers now hold a firmer grasp on what to expect for each lesson, and students had fun ground lessons to kick things off.

Hopefully, this will enable lessons to run even smoother from the get-go. Today is officially the first day of the Spring Term, and our first lessons are already underway. Personally, I’ve never felt more prepared going into a term. Here’s to an amazing Spring, we can’t wait to see you all out here!


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Intern Insights: Dustin

Dustin Baker, an undergraduate Kinesiology student at UAB, has been interning at the Barn for the past couple of months. This internship will be the final step in his work towards his undergraduate degree. Afterwards, he plans on attending graduate school in order to become an occupational therapist. During the Winter Term, Dustin was a huge help in both daily chores as well as lessons. Dustin did a write-up on one such lesson, and I thought it was a unique insight into the progress that particular student has made. So, I decided to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy! (P.S. If you’re ever out here on a Thursday or Friday, please tell Dustin “thank you” for all of his hard work!)

“Over the Winter Term, I have witnessed Collin, one of our remarkable students, make great improvements in his cognitive ability. At first, Collin was having some difficulty maneuvering his horse with the reins. The instructor would give him a direction to go and he would pull the wrong side of the reins. As weeks passed, Collin has shown us that he is better at pulling the correct side of the reins and his vocal responses to the instructor are improving.

So far, in all the lessons, we are able to make out his words when he says, ‘walk-on’ and ‘whoa.’ His speech is difficult to understand at times and we have to get him to repeat himself on occasion; however, the phrase ‘walk-on’ and the word ‘whoa,’ have been all that I personally have witnessed him vocalize toward anyone while on his horse.

In Collin’s lesson last week, he started off with a good amount of energy but after 30 minutes or so, he seemed to start to doze off. His eyes were looking heavy and we started directing him toward the gate, without telling him that we were ending the lesson. When he saw the gate, he knew what was about to happen and he motioned his horse to whoa, then vocalized what I am sure to be the word ‘more.’ He said the word in a low tone so I informed the instructor of his discussion and we continued on with the lesson. He made so much progress that day cognitively.”