Unsure, nervous, and undoubtedly excited, all describe the mixture of emotions I had upon arriving at 2BU Youth Ranch. My name is Caroline Karschney and I am an incoming senior psychology major. Though the time I had spent with horses prior to my internship was slim-to-none, after hearing about 2BU’s mission and commitment to serving adolescents in need, I knew the ranch is where I wanted to spend my summer. 2BU is a nonprofit horse ranch that serves adolescents who are currently suffering or have undergone adverse childhood experiences, along with those struggling with mental health or who are simply in need of love and attention.
At the ranch, kids have the opportunity to bond one-on-one with a horse and learn basic horsemanship and riding skills from trained volunteers and competing riders. Consequent to learning to control a 1,000 + pound animal, at the ranch kids build their self-confidence, set-goals, and learn to listen and lovingly respond to another creature’s needs.
While working as an intern at the ranch this summer, I have had the opportunity to teach basic horsemanship to youth of various ages and witness the incredible growth visible in each young rider. One particularly beautiful story I have been able to watch unfold is the story between one of the young riders and a timid Paint named Peek-a. As a retired show horse, Peek-a came to the ranch ready to serve, until cancer caused her to lose one of her eyes. As an additional consequence of her physical impairment, Peek-a also became more timid and would easily become frightened if exposed to novel stimuli on her blindside. While it seemed potentially risky to pair a child up with Peek-a, the ranch went forth and chose *M. Uncertain at first, M began working with Peek-a, learning to listen and respond to the horse’s individual signals, while also learning how to move around a huge animal who only has eyesight on one side.
The result of this pair has been simply incredible. Over just a few months, M and Peek-a have built an unbreakable bond, so much so that as soon as M walks onto the ranch, Peek-a pricks her ears, curious and excited to be reunited with her rider. Additionally, M has tremendously built-up her confidence as she is one of the only people capable of riding Peek-a at 2BU. The loving bond between these two has shown me just how positive the ranch can be to children in need. I have watched kids flourish in just the span of a few weeks and the skills I have learned throughout this internship stretch far beyond the setting of a horse ranch. So far I have learned and seen the effects of adverse childhood experiences and have learned how to respond lovingly and supportively to these kids. I have also acquired more specific information about owning a nonprofit and have been amazed about the amount of funding, emotional support, and hard work that goes into such a tremendous job. I am thankful for my time at 2BU Youth Ranch this summer and know that the skills I have acquired will continue to benefit me far beyond my academic career.
*Name has been changed for confidentiality
Experiences like Caroline’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff