Horsemanship and Life Skills of Youth in Horse Programs

C. E. Smith, A. M. Swinker, P. M. Comerford, R. B. Radhakrishna, T. S. Hoover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to describe youth horse program participants and to determine the relationship between horsemanship and life skills development. The Impact of Equine Activities Survey contained questions related to horsemanship skills, life skills, and demographic characteristics. Horsemanship skills (riding, handling, safety, health management, and nutrition) were measured on a Likert scale that ranged from 1 ("not at all") to 5 ("always"). Life skills (decision making, critical thinking, communicating, goal setting, and problem solving) were measured on a Likert scale that ranged from 1 ("never") to 5 ("always"). A proportional stratified random sample of 982 youth, ages 12 to 18, was selected from membership in 4- H, the American Quarter Horse Youth Association, the United States Pony Clubs, and the National High School Rodeo Association in Pennsylvania and Colorado. The survey was conducted by mail yielding a 33.5% response rate. The majority of the responding youth were female (86.9%) and white (96.9%). A total of 71.7% participated in western, followed by 50.8% in hunt seat, and 41.6% in timed events. Youth indicated that they "most of the time" to "always" performed horsemanship skills in the ar-eas of handling (4.80), followed by safety (4.71), riding (4.52), nutrition (4.07), and health management (3.74). Youth indicated that they "often" exhibited life skills relative to decision making (4.13), communicating (4.09), goal setting (3.99), problem solving (3.92), and critical thinking (3.92). A positive relationship (r = 0.501, P < 0.01) existed between total horsemanship and total life skills development. Results of this study indicate that youth horse programs should continue to focus on the development of horsemanship and life skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-93
Number of pages5
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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