Smartsville arena available for workshops, equine-assisted learning |

Smartsville arena available for workshops, equine-assisted learning

The Blue Oak Center is hoping to expand equine-assisted learnig opportunities at the venue.
Submitted photo

The Blue Oaks Center, founded in 2017, is a preservation site of the endangered Baca Colonial Spanish Horse, and is available for equine-related workshops and events such as equine-assisted learning programs for the community, according to a release.

Blue Oaks Center founder Carol Fuller-Powell said she envisions programs and classes for the military and seniors, as well as 4-H members, YMCA groups and local scout troops. She is hoping to make her horses and instructors available to those that would like to collaborate in making such programs a reality.

“The arena,” she said in the release, “is ideal for lessons and workshops, with a sturdy reflective construct that offers shelter during the rainy season and a 20-degree reprieve from the harsh summer heat.”

One equine-assisted learning program The Blue Oaks Center currently provides is for a local nonprofit that works with at-risk youth. The program was designed to develop social, vocational and basic life skills, such as teamwork and problem solving.

“Every lesson has a life skill that is either taught or reinforced,” stated executive director Marina Bigongiari in the release.

Participants work with the horses as partners, exploring the positive development of communication, self-respect, self-awareness, confidence, trust, accountability and conflict resolution.

The 16-week program is broken up into 4-week modules with 2-week breaks in between.

“Students work on developing perseverance and empathy,” Bigongiari said. “They learn to cope with frustration and anger.”

Modules include components such as equine science, hands-on horse skills and ranch safety. Certificates and prizes are given upon completion of each module. Through thorough recordkeeping, Blue Oak Center has been able to track the overwhelming success rate of those participating.

Blue Oak Center is currently looking for volunteers to work 3-4 hour shifts on a specific day of the week. This allows for volunteers to become familiar with a specific group of kids, providing greater consistency.

The arena has designated parking and restrooms. Workshops and events can be scheduled in collaboration with Lisa Calder of Mindful Horsemanship.

For more information visit, email or call 510-673-5000.

Source: Blue Oak Center

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