students running

Pioneer Union School District Students Find Relief from Horses

11:45 AM - November 02, 2021

Recently, Pioneer Union School District (PUSD) students began attending equine assistance learning to help cope with the impacts of the Caldor Fire. Several sessions with different small groups of children will take place over future months. Students are transported from their school sites to an equine ranch managed by the non-profit organization Windows to My Soul. These students have experienced unique challenges due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the Caldor Fire including the loss of loved ones, decreased instructional time in schools, destroyed homes and a school, evacuations, community devastation and more. In PUSD, 60 students lost their homes.

Carlyn Spencer, PUSD School Counselor noted, “We are grateful to be able to provide such a unique experience for our students with a focus on presence, attention, and mindfulness, helping them to build resiliency during these intensely dysregulated times.”

At the ranch, the students participate in mindfulness and calming exercises, like body scanning and rocking on barrels, to place them in the state of mind to interact safely with the horses. Once with the horses, students take time to pet and talk to them. When asked what a brown horse might being feeling, a fourth grader responded, “I think the horse is nervous because he has his ears tilted backwards.”

It was explained that lessons learned regarding building healthy relationships, interacting with other students and working through feelings could help deal with difficulties in life. In addition, lessons learned can help with emotional trauma and behavioral challenges.

Cindy Skelton-Hodge, Windows to My Soul Founder and President, explained, “During and after the Caldor Fire, we knew we needed to do something to help the community. Although our organization is closing, our focus became helping our community heal.”

Watch the video at For more information about PUSD, visit

Back Back