Children and Horses Always Produce Success (CHAPS) is an equine assisted therapy and activity program available to children involved with the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department. CHAPS is supported by the Equine Advisory Council of Bexar County Partners for Youth, a nonprofit 501 (C)(3) Organization, and by the Bexar County Juvenile Board.
Bexar County Partners for Youth was founded in 1973. Its mission is to promote rehabilitative programs for at-risk youth in cooperation with the Bexar County Juvenile Board and to provide funding for innovative prevention and intervention programs through grant awards and donations. Partners for Youth is an all volunteer agency and 100 percent of funds secured go directly to support programs.
CHAPS is managed and operated by the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department. The Juvenile Probation Department provides direct oversight of the grounds, structure, horses and programs provided through CHAPS.
Horses are beautiful and graceful animals, keenly aware of their human handler’s body language and emotions. They mirror what they sense and observe in their surroundings. They read the handler and respond accordingly. Horses live in the moment, holding no judgment regarding a human’s past experiences and societal labels. They are large animals, often intimidating to novice handlers. Trust must be built between horse and handler. Once a human and horse relationship begins, the horse’s calming effect sets in and the healing process starts.
For these and many more reasons, horses are a great fit for working with the population of children served by CHAPS. Many of the children we serve have experienced trauma in their lives and have been exposed to gangs, violence, alcohol and drugs. Many suffer from emotional and mental health issues. Some have been abandoned and abused. Horses help children with self-discovery and the healing process. It is a beautiful partnership: challenging at times but very healing.