PALS (Pony-Assisted Life Skills) Program

Our PALS (Pony-Assisted Life Skills) Program is aimed at developing and honing fundamental life skills in children and adults with developmental disabilities, as well as individuals, families and groups facing a range of life challenges, such as those dealing with trauma and loss, substance abuse and recovery, eating disorders, anxiety and depression, relationship and social issues, parenting challenges and more.

Each PALS session focuses on one of six key life skills, including safety, communication, setting boundaries, critical thinking, social skills and responsibility. During these sessions, the participants take part in non-riding, goal-oriented activities with horses like catching and haltering a horse, working together to lead a horse through obstacles, grooming, and observing horse behavior. These activities require them to identify and apply the skill of focus. The goal is for participants to strengthen life skills while developing a greater sense of self-respect, confidence and esteem through their interactions with horses and each other. The PALS curriculum was developed by a licensed social worker, and sessions are directed by two or more horse professionals.

Horses are incredible teachers. In this program, the barn becomes a unique classroom where the horses serve as the mentors, allowing participants to build life skills in an enjoyable and memorable way. Building a relationship with a horse is similar to forming a relationship with another person. Participants have to be aware of their body language and communication while setting respectful boundaries. The participants can then draw from their successful interactions with the horses and implement the skills they developed in real life situations.

In addition to individuals, we have worked with numerous schools and groups across the tri-state area through this program, including Center for Hope and Safety, Children’s Aid & Family Services, Covenant House of NJ, New Horizons in Autism, Inc., Yachad of New Jersey and veterans from the VA Hospital in Lyons, NJ.

To learn more about our PALS Program, call us at (201) 934-1001 or email info@ponypowernj.org.

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