Naples, Fl (August 9, 2019). During the week of July 30th, Youth Haven children and teens had the opportunity to attend camp at the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center.

There are so many benefits of equine therapy for our children and teens. Given the traumatic backgrounds of our youth, forming connections and trust with others can be difficult. Animals provide a way for our youth to interact in a way that feels safe and free of judgement. Through interacting with the horses, the children gained insight into behaviors and emotions of the horses. During the camp, the trainers discussed physical cues that told them if their horse was happy, sad or angry. This provided a mirror for kids to reflect on their own behaviors, feelings, and triggers.

The children began equine therapy by learning how to care for their horses including grooming, cleaning the stables, feeding the horses, etc. The act of caring for their horses taught empathy, responsibility, and independence. Riding is also a component of the program. While riding is often the most anticipated activity for our youth, it can also be frightening. Riding requires trust and attunement between our children and their horses. This is really a big a step for our children to be vulnerable and trust their horses. During the riding process, our children were faced with situations in which their horses may not behave exactly as they would like them to. This increases cognitive flexibility, impulse control, and builds problem solving skills.

Youth Haven is extremely grateful for our amazing partnership with Naples Therapeutic Riding Center!

About Youth Haven

Youth Haven, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, is Collier County’s only residential emergency shelter for boys and girls ages 6-18 who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Youth Haven is a COA nationally accredited organization, a member agency of the United Way of Collier County, a Naples Children and Education Foundation grant recipient, and has been in continuous operation since 1972. For more information, visit, like our Facebook page,, follow us on Twitter, @YouthHavenCS and Instagram @youthhaven.