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Horses help at-risk youth develop life skills



At the Equine Therapy Center in Edmond, retired American quarter horses assist at-risk youth in developing positive life skills and choices.

Through grooming, feeding and riding the horses, the kids learn a variety of valuable lessons like:
" self-control,
" kindness and
" patience.

The goal of the ETC is to help participants:
" gain motivation,
" diminish anxieties,
" develop trust,
" learn self-evaluation,
" increase self-esteem and
" develop socialization skills.

"The life skills that the horses teach (are) insurmountable," said Prim Cockrell, ETC director and founder.

As a seasoned horsewoman, Cockrell recognized early that horses change lives for the better. With that in mind, she began the ETC in 2002 using award-winning quarter horses to facilitate the process of youth learning crucial life skills and how to make better choices.

Programs include after-school activities and summer day camps. The after-school program is a six-to-eight-week session, where kids work with the horses three days a week. These programs "give them confidence to do what they want to do in life," said Cockrell. "It is their choice."

One person who has witnessed the positive changes in the youth who attend the ETC programs is Judy Mills, a volunteer for Angel Tree. Mills has led several youth to the ETC programs and likes seeing the change in the kids when they are around the horses.

"The horses give them unconditional love," she said.

For more information, call 282-9997 or visit their site. "Gina A. Dabney

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