One of the most rewarding aspects of working at The Glenholme School is having the opportunity to watch students grow and transform. Often, this occurs within the context of Glenholme’s esteemed equestrian program, which provides an optimal environment for students to develop character values, social skills, and a positive self-image.
Like many other animals, horses often have a calming and therapeutic presence. Glenholme students regularly forge strong bonds with the horses on campus, feeling most comfortable and secure when the animals are nearby. By caring for such massive creatures, students inevitably develop confidence in their own abilities, and learn the importance of responsibility, maturity, and hard work. As they learn to trust the horses, students also begin to trust others, and most importantly, themselves.
The power of our equestrian program is illuminated by the story of a former Glenholme student, who entered the program as a reserved and disinterested child. He was remarkably passive, seemingly void of ambition or determination, and, although always obedient, never put forth any extra effort or energy when completing a task.
That was, until he began participating in Glenholme’s equestrian program. After a few short months of working with the horses, there was a noticeable change in the student’s demeanor. He became more social, conveyed a greater degree of initiative and effort, and exuded a newfound confidence. Heather Perssonatti, the coordinator of the equestrian program, took note of these changes and selected the student to join her and five of his peers on a school sponsored trip to the Heart Six Guest Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
During his stay at the ranch, the student faced obstacles that challenged his strength, courage, and ability to work with others. He faced his fears as he rode on steep and intricate trails, and learned to socialize with his peers during different group activities such as “Team Penning.” During one ride, Ms. Perssonatti and the students found themselves on an extremely high and narrow trail. As she glanced over to the several hundred foot drop that lay mere inches away from her and the horse, Ms. Perssonatti became anxious. Her fears must have been apparent, as the student began consoling her and lending words of encouragement and support. He calmly offered reassurance and alleviated her fears. Looking back, Ms. Perssonatti considers this one the most meaningful moments she has ever experienced with a student. Essentially, the (horse)shoe was now on the other foot.
Upon coming home from the ranch, Ms. Perssonatti attests that the student was completely transformed. He was hired to work part time at the campus barn, where he demonstrated considerable responsibility, work ethic, and passion. In his cottage and during school activities, he was now noticeably more social and engaged. This student, who was once in need of inspiration, began to inspire others.
The Glenholme equestrian program enriches the lives of students, allowing them to make great strides not only in the barn, but also in their daily lives. We thank Ms. Perssonatti for sharing her talent and passion, and for motivating her students to grow and change for the better.
Visit our website for more information about Glenholme’s equestrian program!