How Can a Horse and a Cowboy Improve Education?

The Cowboy Solution Pioneering Education


Houston, Texas...In an arena in Houston, 350 new teachers have gathered to start their careers. This is day two of a week of development training they will attend to orient themselves to the education profession. Armed with notebooks, pens and a serious attitude they come face to face with....a cowboy and a horse! And, what they walk away with is a series of simple, yet extremely effective tools, they can use tomorrow in their classrooms.

Don Hutson has worn many hats in his 30-year career, but his favorite by far is the black cowboy hat he dons to conduct his Cowboy Solution teacher training seminars. For the past three years, The Cowboy Solution has provided a no-nonsense, simple approach to teaching that has reached more than 8,500 teachers across Texas and Colorado. But, Dr. Hutson's goal is to reach as many as humanly, ummm, well and equine assisted, as possible

Despite spending billions of dollars on accountability through standardized testing, acts, mandates and countless initiatives in 23 years, the nation has not succeeded in closing the vast achievement gap in education, at least according to The Thomas Fordham Foundation Report for 2006. The report indicates an average grade of "D" on student achievement and argues that progress has been negligible since 1983. Not much better news comes out of the 2006 report, QualityCounts: A Decade of Standards-Based Education, which shows that Texas scores at or below the average in all four graded policy categories. Perhaps it is time for a fresh approach in the classroom.

Designed for teachers, administrators, school board members, principals and parents, The CowboySolution is a unique and inspiring educational program that provides teachers and administrators with a set of simple, yet powerful, teaching tools, intended to provide positive results in the classroom. The ultimate goal? To insure that every child is given the opportunity to reach his or her full learning potential. And, in today's educational landscape, that is not always easy.

The program challenges participants to re-examine their teaching philosophy and explore new and rewarding ways to reach and partner with students. Specific strategies help teachers re-focus, urging them to think about their profession in a much more positive way. Most teachers will tell you that they come away re-energized, with a greater understanding about the teaching process, and equipped with actual tools to help make a difference with their students.

Brooke Wallecke, a first-year teacher in the Lamar CISD exclaimed, "I thought The Cowboy Solution was excellent. The strategies were simple, but effective. Dr. Hutson showed every teacher how much of a difference positive reinforcement and a no failure approach can make in a classroom. As a first year teacher, I plan to use his tips on clear, concise, and consistent communication in the classroom, because I want my students to know what I expect out of them. After this teacher in-service, I will definitely do whatever it takes to reach each and every one of my students."
But seriously, why a horse?

For starters, this innovative method is a fresh approach to staff development and curriculum instruction. Dr. Hutson has trained hundreds of horses using tried and true techniques which he thought would naturally translate to the classroom. By demonstrating these simple methods with a horse, teachers come away with a new set of tools for their classrooms. Tools that they can instantly recall because of the unique visual presentation.
Dr. Hutson believes that horses represent the complete spectrum of the students that teachers across America work with on a daily basis. They range in age, attitude, capabilities and social strata. Some are advantaged and some not. But, his firmest belief is there is not a single child that can't be taught if someone is willing to teach. And sometimes, that does not come with a cookie cutter program. Students, like most people, learn at many different levels.

What sets The Cowboy Solution apart and insures its success is that the program focuses on the "teaching" process itself. Participants get to see first hand how invaluable clear communication can be as Dr. Hutson demonstrates this concept with a horse in an arena, taking them through several interactive tasks until the desired result is achieved. Teachers soon realize that they can apply the same process to their classroom. The benefit—a true partnership between student and teacher which enables a child to learn.

Several teachers were later asked if they had any success in their classrooms applying the program's principles. A transplanted teacher from Boston to Houston who was particularly skeptical of the cowboy-oriented seminar was the first to say that this seminar was the best and most effective of her two-day teacher training.
Clinics are approved for continuing education units by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification. (SBEC)

For more information log on to


Debra Ford, Ford & Company; 281-415-0673


Author: Debra Ford
Phone: (281) 415-0673