Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version

Fall 12-2010


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Leadership Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Kathleen Lodl. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Jessica M. Bauman.


In today’s society it is becoming ever so important to find creative and influential outlets to keep young people occupied in positive ways. High quality youth programs are shown to make a positive difference in the lives of many young people; therefore, it is important to continue the use of established youth programs as well as develop new programs. Equine science programs have proven to be a popular and beneficial outlet for many youth due to the ability to learn a variety of life skills, improve character, and increase positive youth development in those youth who participate.

Traditional equine programs revolve around physical and emotional interaction with a live horse. However, youth may not be able to participate in traditional horse programs due to financial, residential, and lifestyle limitations. Because not all young people have the opportunity to interact with a live animal, horseless horse programs are emerging as a popular alternative to traditional horse projects. The horseless horse program is similar to a traditional 4-H horse project, but physical interaction with a horse is not required.

With youth showing greater interest in horseless horse programs and a need for new curriculum, eXtension proposed the development of HorseXploration, an online horseless horse learning lesson. The purpose of this study is to develop HorseXploration Level 1 for youth ages 12-14. The participatory action research model was used to discover equine topics of interest, clarify learning preferences, and allow the users voice to be heard in development process.

The findings of this study provided insight into the development of HorseXploration Level 1. Many of the findings were congruent with the thoughts and ideas horse specialists had regarding the needs and wants of horseless horse youth. The result of this action research process was the creation of HorseXploration Level 1. The online horseless horse learning lesson is a research-based, hands-on, learner-centered program that can potentially affect the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of youth towards horses and the horse industry.

Advisor: Kathleen Lodl