Youth-at-risk are defined as youth at risk of social or academic failure. Based upon the youth's age and maturity, our counseling staff will recommend a method of counseling that is most suitable. From Play Therapy to Equine Assisted Counseling, the therapist will assist with designing goals and activities that will help the client move forward (see Counseling Services page for description of these therapies).

Clients may be recommended for a Therapeutic Horsemanship group with peers of the same age and similar goals.

Sessions will focus on:   

* Developing observation skills and importance of self-regulation

            * Improving communication skills and learning how to build trust

            * Learning about pressure and how it impacts self and others

            * Learning about having responsibility and caring for others

            * Overcoming obstacles, real and perceived

           * Overcoming fears and understanding boundaries and limits

            * Healthy competition and conflict resolution    (in group setting only)

           * Developing leadership skills    (in group setting only)


* Youth and HORSES both test boundaries. As the youth work with the horses to learn limits, the youth assumes a position of authority and responsibility, possibly a new role for them. Being in this position allows the youth to see and develop empathy for their parents.

* From HORSES, the youth will learn how to build healthy relationships. If the youth is passive, withdrawn, aggressive or angry, there may be no horse response or the horse may not engage. If the youth is lying, cheating, or manipulative, the horse will not engage. Horses set a good example for youth. The goal is to have the horse choose to be led and be willing to respond positively in relationship. Their relationship becomes one that is mutually healthy.

* HORSES, though gentle, are large and powerful, creating opportunities for:

Overcoming fear
Developing courage
Improving self-confidence
Developing respect
Developing assertiveness

* Perceptive but non-judgmental, HORSES do not take notice of the youth's problematic background and perceived shortcomings. Horses provide a positive space to safely explore painful feelings and destructive behavior patterns.

* HORSES require care, presenting an opportunity to learn hard work. Youth learn the nature of responsibilities and of someone depending upon them. Again, this can be related to their relationship with their parents and other caregivers.

* HORSES have independent idiosyncratic personalities providing an opportunity to learn and practice patience, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.

Youth at Risk Programs

​Children and youth at risk can benefit from Ranch programs where our therapists incorporate horses and other animals to teach valuable life skills. 

Youth at Risk Programs

A word from our Clients...

"Believing Restoration is Attainable (BRA) is a support group for families suffering loss whether that be through divorce, separation or death. In 2018, Paws for Reflection Ranch and BRA formed a partnership, so that the moms and children in these situations could get therapy and be stronger during this time of transition.

The stories of moms and children are amazing. One mom really realized her daughter's leadership skills.  Another mom had a son that was really bullied at school. Going to the Herd Strong class gave him skills to deal with that situation. BRA also had an amazing Family Fun Day where food, fun and fellowship happened with around 70 people - 2 diferent life lesson activities also took place so families could walk away with a closer bond.

As the Executive Director, I am more than grateful that families have the opportunity to grow at Paws for Reflection Ranch."        Sharon Verigan, Executive Director, Believing Restoration is Attainable

From  the Herd Strong Participant . . .

"My takeaway:    Is that horses have personalities and emotions very similar to people.

What I learned:    Learning how to work with horses and lead them is helping to learn leadership skills. I gained more confidence to try new things and volunteer first, instead of being last, when asked.

The fun part:    Being able to look forward to the class, every week, because it was a time I could have fun and not be so stressed or worry about anything. I could just go and have a good time with everyone, especially my horse. Also, just getting to be with the horses and learn about them."            Micaela M.

From  the Parent of Herd Strong Participant . . .

"During class one evening, I noticed a counselor really having to coax Micaela's horse ( Cherokee) to get him to go where the leader wanted. Katelyn, an instructor, said this, "Cherokee is a leader, so he has to be 100% sure you're a leader and you're going to lead him right."

 I felt like God was telling me something . . .  I had already been identifying strong leadership qualities in Micaela, but at the same time, I was frustrated with what I perceived to be stubbornness and obstinacy or just plain not listening to me. I realized that my own daughter was the same way as Cherokee!

As a busy single parent, I tend to absentmindedly throw directions out, or hurriedly give instructions. I realized that my daughter needs intent instruction and clear directives, so that she feels I'm in tune with her and I know what I'm talking about. This was truly a God "moment" for me and I seriously wanted to cry because of overwhelming emotion!"        Lisa M.

"I am writing this letter to say thank you to the United Way for helping enable my teenage son to attend the Herd Strong counseling group at Paws for Reflection Ranch. My son has really enjoyed his time with the counselors, horses, and the other kids in the group. My son loves animals, so I was very excited for him to join the Herd Strong group. A counseling program like this would not be something I could afford for him to do on my own, so it is a great blessing to have the cost covered by your organization. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

My son was diagnosed with a medical disorder called Neurofibromatosis at age three. Because of this disorder, he has struggled with learning issues, ADHD, behavioral issues, and other physical issues. He had a hard time in school, so I choose to homeschool him to help him have a more personalized education. Sadly, this last year due to some very poor choices made by his father, he has faced more loss and change. One of those changes was that he would need to go back to public school, so that his homeschooling momma of six years could go back  to work. During this last year, God has provided many blessings, people, and situations that have truly helped my son during this painful season of loss and change. Paws for Reflection's Herd Strong program has been one of those positive blessings that have come along to help him through this time. The program started as he was making this transition into school for the first time. I am very excited to say that he has made a successful transition into school, and I fully believe that this counseling program has been a big part of that. Thank you for being a blessing to my son this year and providing him an unforgettable experience with the Herd Strong program. Thank you for helping all the kids in this program and the many ot hers - it makes a difference! Thank you. "                     Parent of Herd Strong Participant