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Character Counts at Silver Buckle

October 7, 2008

I have recently become active out at Silver Buckle "The Buckle" and it is such a fun and interesting place that I wanted you to know all about it. It is located in Brush Prairie on NE 152nd Ave. just south of 119th St. You can contact them at 360-260-8932 or online at http://www.silverbuckle.org/.

Silver Buckle is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, whose mission program is exciting but also challenging. Basically speaking, Silver Buckle uses horses to help in the growth and development of youth from both challenging living circumstances and not. By way of example, some youth come to Silver Buckle through social service agencies throughout SW Washington including foster children, youth referred by Juvenile Justice, socially and academically-challenged youth. Others seek out Silver Buckle to feed their passion for horses and be part of a working ranch. Although the paths to Silver Buckle are varied, all come to find a friend in a horse.

Horses, being the wonderful creatures that they are, do not judge kids, but help show them how to match their insides with their outsides. While horses are not the focus in the ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) program at Silver Buckle, character-building and self-awareness are. Overcoming challenges that all youth struggle with to various degrees such as fear, anger, self-esteem, confidence, understanding right from wrong, cause and effect, coping tools and control are all life skills that Silver Buckle horses help kids work though and develop. Through ARK and specific horse care assignments each week, kids begin to work on character building skills, respect, honesty, trustworthiness, caring and kindness, and of course responsibility and work ethic. Personal growth becomes evident after a very short time at Silver Buckle.

It is no secret that for kids, growing up on farms and ranches has its advantages. The ranch experience at Silver Buckle gives kids ages 4 to 18 the opportunity to work not just with horses, but with other livestock as well. Silver Buckle is dedicated to finding the interest in each youth. More often than not it is a horse or a pony, however sometimes, it might be a goat, a calf or a lamb. Whatever the passion, we work to design a program that addresses that student’s special needs. ARK students start with a 12-week introduction program that has specific tasks and mile-maker achievements. As the student achieves tasks and graduates from this program, they are invited back to continue a Tri-level program that runs year-round. Silver Buckle staff, volunteers and students all work closely together to manage the ranch and care for the animals. Staff instructs students, students instruct students and staff learns from students, growth and personal development never stops; it is something that goes on in a human forever.

As the ARK youth advance through the levels, they become part of the Silver Buckle team and their responsibilities and duties grow. ARK, as well as other enrolled youth, help run the ranch and assist in lessons and events. They help out with the day-to-day up-keep of the ranch and schooling of the horses. ARK kids become empowered and build vocational skills in the equine and cattle industries as well as in general ranch management.

Silver Buckle is a working ranch for the whole family, striving to become an equine educational resource for Clark County. Besides the core focus on youth, Silver Buckle offers a diverse menu of horse and cattle activities for older children and adults. From horse enthusiasts to current horse owners, Silver Buckle is working to provide activities and resourcefulness. For example, Silver Buckle does not stop at basic western and english riding lessons, but offers, weekly cow play events, such as break-away roping, steer dobbing and ranch sorting, arena rentals for horse clubs, cow clinics, new horse owner clinics, natural horsemanship and balanced seat. Horse “U” is offered each 2nd Saturday, where a variety of horse topics will be discussed, from horse care to training issues.

Silver Buckle has a talented string of 12 horses and 6 ponies available for weekly lessons and cow play events. If you don’t own a horse, Silver Buckle is the place to try out horse ownership with their “Horse Buddy Program” a horse “time-share” plan. Horse owners may haul horses in for lessons or cow play events or rent a Silver Buckle horse if you are unable to bring your own.

It is Silver Buckle’s goal to help and educate the horse owner, families considering horse ownership and to provide a safe, fun, character-building facility for young people to discover themselves and their community.

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