KSOE EQUUS Program: Saddle Up

Horses

Horses are known to be healers—animals innately able to connect with humans on a deep, soulful level. SMC’s Kalmanovitz School of Education has been using this concept since January to teach fourth- to sixth-graders in Oakland.

The EQUUS program (Equines and Urban Schools) starts with classroom instruction, taught by KSOE Teachers for Tomorrow candidates. They link horses to math, writing and environmental learning assignments. Then the students visit Skyline Ranch Equestrian Center, run by Judi Martin on East Bay Regional Park land in the Oakland hills.

“It brings the kids back to nature…brings their feet to the ground,” said Martin.

Barn visits are joyous events where students learn grooming, feeding and riding skills. For Carl Munck Elementary student Jaden Anderson, it’s a treat to ride a “soft and warm” horse.

“I can’t really do this stuff at home,” said Anderson. “I can’t get out a lot. We don’t really go places with animals.”

“Yo” and “Twinkle” move carefully around the arena as they carry the wide-eyed pre-teens on their backs.

Laughter and chatter fill the air. They are sounds that remind Martin’s assistant, Jahi Bickham, of his early experience with horses at Skyline Ranch. “Being young and not knowing how to get to horses but knowing I wanted to be around them…it takes me back. You can see their eyes light up,” said Bickham.

For more information, contact Ronda Levy at ral5@stmarys-ca.edu.