Healing is enhanced through a nurturing role with animals. HCYR has an animal care history dating to its 1977 founding. In the beginning, kids raised cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens to supplement food, and to learn about caring for them.
The 1996 gift of the 7,000-acre Big Springs Ranch to HCYR gave opportunity to expand the animal program. BSRC has horse stables, a riding arena, cattle pastures, corrals, and a 4-H barn, with pens for livestock. The son of a pioneer ranching family, Michael Priour oversees the equestrian and livestock programs, teaching mostly urban children horseback riding, cattle ranching, and the art of working with four-legged critters.
“I have always believed,” says Priour, “that children and animals need each other. From household pets, to horses, cattle, and goats – we learn life’s lessons. It is amazing to see a child who weighs 100 pounds learn to control a horse that weighs over 1000 pounds, and then see the self confidence that carries over into his or her everyday struggles.”
The 4-H Club was added in 2007 and “gained momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill,” said Tripp Davenport, 4-H Club founder. “The program has far exceeded our wildest expectations. The animal projects have made a huge difference in the kids’ lives.”
The first year of 4-H, 25 residents raised animals for the livestock show. The number grows annually. Each day the children feed and water their animals, and walk them for exercise and training. They learn important lessons about ownership and responsibility.
Adds Priour, “Caring for animals helps children experience the joy of making a difference.”