Leadership Success with LEAP


The kids and the horses are happy to be together again out on the Chief Joseph Foundation Appaloosas land this year. Students for Success Tribal Youth Program has continued the Lapwai Equine Assisted Program now in its third summer. Equine Assisted Educator, Linda Kingsbury from Horse Heart Connection, Agnes Weaskus from Students for Success, and Donna Henry from NMPH Behavioral Health work as a team to bring LEAP opportunities to the kids. We are fortunate to have the continued support of two parents Shane and Jo Auginaush as volunteers out in the field.


Our LEAP missions is: Lapwai Equine Assisted Program provides experiential learning activities with Appaloosa horses for building self-respect, effective communication, leadership skills, and restoring Nez Perce horse heritage for the well-being of the tribe, the horses, the land, and the community.


EAL (Equine Assisted Learning) programs are a holistic approach to health promotion. LEAP is a culture based model of resiliency. Each morning we include the best tribal practices of offering prayer, passing the talking stick in a talking circle, and learning about the Appaloosas. We honor the spirit of the horse and its ability to lead us on the right path.


The kids are learning to care for the horses with grooming, understanding horse communication, and making time for solo and group Join-up. We practice the basics of putting the rope halter and lead rope on, leading, backing up, and walking the horse around obstacles. This strengthens the horse’s bond with the kids to enhance trust while riding. To make it easier on the horse and to practice the old ways, we do bit-less riding. This also encourages the rider’s ability to use effective hand rein and leg cues to communicate with the horse.


We all want to say a big thank you to CJ, an 8 years old gelding with Leopard markings. He has been our star this year, standing close by when we are in our talking circles, practicing group join-up, and being calm and fun for riding. Thanks again to Chief Joseph Foundation for letting us be out with the horses this year.