EQUI-KIDS partners with Virginia Beach City Public Schools through our School Partnership Program (SPP) allowing our instructors to collaborate with special needs teachers using horses to enforce classroom curriculum goals. Special needs classrooms from local elementary, middle, or high schools (on a rotating basis) spend one morning a week at our facility in a hands-on learning environment. Participants receive therapeutic horseback riding lessons, do ground work in the barn, grooming and caring for the horses, and spend time in our classroom helping tie their farm-based experiences and concepts to their traditional classroom curriculum.
The primary goal of the SPP is to enhance students’ education and life skills through the use of horses and our farm while exposing children to an alternative learning environment. It is a unique program to which many of the students may not otherwise have exposure. The resulting improvements in behavior and relationship management are almost immediate. Students learn a functional curriculum and, more specifically, work experience skills. We see vast improvements in social skills and academic skills within the classroom. Due to the positive aspects of sensory integration directly related to therapeutic riding, more learning can happen in the traditional classroom. This special education program reinforces the public education program for everything from life skills to academics.