This study compared four horseless and seven traditional horse participants from Washington County 4-H in Utah for horse knowledge gained and for the development of 10 life skills from Hendricks’s Targeting Life Skills Model: leadership, teamwork, self-responsibility, personal safety, problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking, goal setting, communication, and concern for others. This study’s mixed methods design employed interviews to learn about life skill development and quantitative data from a 20-item horse knowledge quiz and demographic survey. The traditional horse youth showed greater development of leadership, self-responsibility, decision-making, goal setting, and communication than the horseless youth. Roughly half of the participants in both groups experienced having concern for others in their program, but both programs lacked the development of critical thinking and problem-solving. As for horse knowledge, traditional horse participant scores were 15% to 40% better than horseless participants. The horseless participants lacked knowledge on the parts of a western saddle and horsemanship. Recommendations for future research include observational research in addition to participants’ self-perceived data, perspectives of the adult leaders, and pre-post test data to track the growth of life skills and horse knowledge in horseless and traditional horse participants.


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