We have been conducting research since 2009. Rebecca Wara-Goss has been the research director working directly with Doug Hutten.
Kids & Horses Education Program (KHEP) is an after school horse education program which specializes in working with disadvantaged children from the community whose ages range from 8 to 16 years old. It has been shown in current behavioral research that children who participate in equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) programs and specialized horse programs, such as Kids & Horses Education Program (KHEP), experience positive behavioral changes. The improvement of behavioral changes are considered part of the participant’s interaction with horses whether from attunement and connection with the animal, or by learning to better manage their behavior when around horses. Children who may especially benefit from specialized horse programs are those who are disadvantaged with behavioral problems or may be dependent on social services due to their family’s socio-economic circumstances or even interruptions in the family system, such as foster care. Children are referred to KHEP by their parents, guardians, foster care, and counseling agencies because it is believed these children will benefit from the program.
We propose the children who attend KHEP will experience positive behavioral changes over the course of the 10 week sessions as a result of the design and implementation of the program and due to interactions with horses. The specific positive behavioral changes we will focus on are self-confidence/self-esteem and team skills/interpersonal relationships.
Method: Program evaluation, questionnaires, and applied observational field research
Participants: Children with ages ranging from 8-16 years old who are referred to the program’s 10 week sessions. Parent/guardian participants sign consent form to grant access for children to be part of the observational study. Children participants need only to assent they are willing to participate in this research project.
Children participants Intake/Out take survey forms which will have descriptive and ratio/interval type questions. Also researcher will have observational behavioral checklist. The checklist will be completed in 15 minute intervals for 1.5 hours with a total of 6 possible behavioral observations for each individual participant in the 10 sessions. Statistical data analysis will be both quantitative and qualitative.
Inclusion/Exclusion criteria: The inclusion criterion is for any child participant who is perceived by the referrer would benefit from KHEP because he/she may be disadvantaged behaviorally or is affected by socio-economic and family system disruptions. The exclusion criterion is for only children ages 8-16 will be considered as participants.
Informed consent forms and debriefing will be provided prior to the start of a 10-week KHEP session. Debriefing will also be provided to children participants for Session 1 and Session 10 for the Intake/Outtake surveys. There is absolutely no perceived risk to the children participants in this program evaluative and behavioral observational research study. A child or parent/guardian may request to drop out of the research study with no consequences at anytime. No names will be used and ALL data/information will be kept highly confidential and used strictly for just this research project.
Note: EMQFF and Victory Ranch Inc. are research partners and have mutually approved of this research project. All legal and ethical considerations have been incorporated.
The research team continues to enter the gathered numbers into a statistical analysis program, and the conclusions validate that the goals of the KHEP Program (improved life skills - self confidence, team work, social skills, personal achievement, focus/follow directions, communication skills, and knowledge of horses) are improved/achieved in the majority of students.
We also continue to conduct research with the parents/guardians/caregivers by having them fill out a "Comments Form" that provides us with valuable feedback. This data has also validated that kids change their behavioral disorders!