Someone once asked me why I do what I do, I hesitated to answer, not because I did not know the answer to his question, but because for those few seconds of hesitation I had countless faces of kids that we have had in the program flash through my mind. I could not put into words what I have seen in all those pairs of eyes that came back through my memory. Mainly, because I knew that if you have not seen them then it would be hard to understand. The hurt, the betrayal from those who should have protected them, the confusion of not knowing if they would ever get to see their parents again, the lost from not actually “belonging” to the strangers that they are currently living with, the pain of thinking that they actually deserved the abuse and neglect, and the hopelessness from being moved from house to house and never finding a home. I thought in those few seconds, that if this was all I got to see then I would give up. You can only see hopelessness for so long before there is no hope left. I have been given an amazing gift to be able to see the same pairs of eyes after they have been able to spend some time at Hope Ranch. Hope of a future abounds in them, strength from knowing that they are loved, respected and cared for, pride in a job well done, empowered from knowing they can conquer their fears, peace from knowing they are safe, joy from realizing their own potential, love for their horse and respect for others. This is why we are called HOPE ranch, and this is why we do what we do, because our main goal is to give HOPE.


We (the staff) have found over the years that in order to make an impact on these kids’ lives it really needs to be relational. Our program has evolved to have slightly fewer kids but to have the same kids at the ranch for longer periods of time. We really felt like when the kids were up for only a few days at a time once a year we were losing our ability to mentor them, check in with them and help them with their everyday struggles. Out of this, we have developed our Lesson Programs. In these Programs the kids come to the ranch once a week for a few hours up to the entire day. This gives us the ability to build relationships with these kids and for the kids to not only build relationships with staff, but also with the horse they are assigned. It is so awesome to hear the kids as soon as they get out of the car to be calling for “their” horse and looking forward to the time spent with them. In many cases, this is the one thing these kids look forward to all week.


There is something so amazing in using horses for therapy for kids. The kids connect with them in ways that I have never seen them connect with other people. In this connection, we use it to teach the kids how to handle social situations, how to be respectful to others and how to lead. The kids are taught how to care for the horses and all that it includes, even doing physical labor chores, working on their work ethic of working quickly and doing a job well done. They are taught how to saddle, safely handle the horse and riding therapy. Horse riding is an amazing tool in teaching these kids how to follow instruction and give clear instruction, we work on self-control and balance among many other mental therapy exercises.