Ninth grade students enrolled in the Columbia Alternate Program continued a longstanding field trip this past fall by visiting Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham where they interact with horses rescued from abuse, neglect and cruelty.
Students in CAP’s Self Leadership course, taught by Laura Gedney, traveled 30 minutes by school bus to the farm two separate times this past fall. It was the program’s first trip to the farm in two years due to the pandemic.
“Having students return to Little Brook Farm was wonderful,” said Mrs. Gedney. “In Self Leadership, students learned several different calming and horse handling techniques that they were able to utilize at the farm. The ways students encourage and learn from each other really adds to the experience that our trips provide. Students are able to take our participation at the farm and apply it to their experience in the classroom in remarkable ways.”
While at the farm, students perform community service by clearing paddocks, weeding gardens, refilling water buckets and cleaning stalls. The highlight of the trips are when students get to groom the horses and lead them around the indoor arena.
Columbia CAP students love their visits to Little Brook Farm in Old Chatham where they work with rescued horses! Here are some photos from their visits earlier this year. pic.twitter.com/SQ05zGW9rn
— East Greenbush CSD (@EGreenbushCSD) January 26, 2022
“I was nervous but excited,” said Elijah Boyd ’25 who was working with Abe, an ex-police horse. Mr. Boyd led him around the arena while trying to remain calm and in control.
Another student, Olivia Dymond ’25 works with horses outside this program, so she was looking forward to it. She noted how the visits to Little Brook Farm have brought the class closer together.
Columbia students first began visiting Little Brook Farm in 2012. Art teacher Andrea Neiman and CAP department chair Brian Marsh suggested it as a way to develop important skills in students.
“Through the Equine Program, the students learn how to regulate their emotions and approach the horses in a calm, kind and confident manner,” said Ms. Neiman. “The students offer each other encouragement, remind each other how to hold the leadline safely when they trade horses and work as a team to help load and unload the school bus with the equipment and items we bring with us. Students are able to take their experience at the farm with their peers and teachers and use it in the classroom. We have noticed positive changes in students once they return to school.”
Columbia’s Self Leadership course plans to visit Little Brook Farm again this coming spring.