This article is ridiculously biased in the negative direction. Sounds to me like someone has a personal beef with Spence and felt the need to take public revenge.
I grew up at Spence's farm, I know plenty of employees there that wouldn't leave for the world. My experience there was entirely positive and healthy, from learning how to handle and ride horses, getting to go on adventurous hikes and swims in waterfalls, learning about gardening, woodworking, etc. My hands were always busy and/or dirty, and as a kid, that is a wonderfully fantastic thing. Yes, my toes got stepped on by horses more than once. Yes, I fell off a few times. I probably got bit, too. Did that ever make me want to stop going? No. Did that ever mean I was "constantly put in harms way"? No.
I feel that anyone calling his practices "unsafe" has succumbed way too far into modern society's thinking - where the cool thing to do is be afraid of everything. I'm afraid of spiders... but ya know what? That doesn't stop me from going hiking when I'm visiting mountains. And when he's pointing out snakes, I have my doubts that he's showing kids "the wrong way" or "poisonous" snakes. My guess is he's actually trying to demonstrate proper handling and explaining how to identify snakes that are and aren't okay to be near! Real world, practical, helpful, useful, good to know knowledge.
If your children want to learn how to horseback ride, then both your child AND YOU as the parent must understand and accept that the child is likely going to get hurt at some point - whether it's an intentional bite from the horse or an accidental fall off one. The chances of being injured around horses are no higher than any other sport - that's just something that comes along with some hobbies. If you (or your kid) can't handle that mental/emotional/physical stress in your life, then don't sign your kid up for an activity based program.
I will say that I do get a bit of a creep factor in terms of personality, but I don't think he means it as personally as some people take it. I think teens probably dramatize their situations to an extent, because that just tends to be in the nature of a teen to do.
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