In our foundational program, Bridges, participants are paired in one-on-one mentoring relationships with an adult leader. Each participant will work with a mentor 2-­4 sessions per month. Individual sessions last 90 minutes and can include a variety of activities including riding, ranch chores, vetting and caring, and rehabilitation work with the Ranch’s rescued horses, gardening, games, and crafts, to name a few.

The goal of this program is relationship, building social and emotional skills, and spiritual investment in each participant. While riding will be a part of some sessions, it is not the main objective of the mentoring time. The primary objective is to meet each participant where they are and work toward healthy, connected relationships with our horses, each other, and God. We recognize that every participant is an individual. Mentors and parents will work together to identify specific needs for each participant and set appropriate goals. These sessions are offered absolutely free of charge for every participant. Donations are always welcome!

Who Can Participate in the Mentoring Program?
Anyone who feels like they can benefit from what Refuge offers. The target population served by Bridges are children, ages 5 – 18, who are at-risk for or currently experiencing trauma or crisis. We have also served adult women from local homeless and domestic violence shelters. Our programs are offered absolutely free of charge and we do not limit our services to people from a particular social or economic background. These are the only requirements for participating in the programs here at Refuge:

● Participants, both children and adults alike must WANT to be here. Willingness and a desire to participate are necessary components for healing and change.

● All children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. In addition to liability laws, we believe that a child benefits greatly from having a parent or caregiver here to cheer them on!

● All participants must have attended an initial orientation with a parent or guardian and have a signed copy of the Illinois Equine Activity Liability Act as well as a signed release form and other required Ranch paperwork on file.

Freedom Reins is our Adaptive Riding Program which serves our beautiful, special needs kids. We serve children, ages 5 through 21, with a variety of special needs including, but not limited to, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD, and other physical or neurological disabilities. 

Horseback riding is extremely beneficial to our participants both physically and emotionally. We strive to individualize each session based on each child’s needs, skills, and goals. A typical Freedom Reins session provides time for connecting with the horse and learning responsibility through opportunities to groom, ride, and just spend time with a horse. 

Mounted time at each session focuses on balance, strength building, and following instructions through riding and fun activities done on horseback.. Each of our participants rides with 1-2 side-walkers to insure his or her safety.

As with all of our programs, Freedom Reins is offered to our families, many who cannot afford traditional equine therapy programs Contact us here for more information about this program or to inquire about scheduling an orientation.

Bridges Mentoring Program

Freedom Reins

How much will it cost for me or my child to participate?
Our program is absolutely free of charge. The only requirement is that participants be willing to to contribute, have an open heart and want to attend.

How can I get my child involved?
If you are interested in scheduling a session at the ranch for yourself or your child, you can contact us through the website with your email or phone number. Someone from the ranch will be in touch to schedule an initial appointment.

Can I drop my child off at the ranch?
Part of Refuge’s focus is to bring families together. Because of this principle we ask that parents accompany their child. A parent’s presence is often central to a child’s healing process. The impact of a parent cheering their child to victory has become very apparent to us. Allowing fathers, mothers and guardians a chance to rest in the shade and enjoy the beauty God has provided is also a part of what we do.

What kinds of people does Refuge Ranch serve?
Refuge Ranch primarily serves children between the ages of 5 and 18. Being a kid in this day and age is tough enough. Many of our kids are considered “at- risk”. This can take on many shapes and forms: mental, physical, emotional, and functional.

Refuge also offers opportunities that seek to serve women and families. For more information on how our programs might benefit you, feel free to contact us!

Can we visit the ranch?
We would love to have you out to Refuge even if it is just for a visit. We are open to the public by appointment only. Please feel free to contact us here to schedule a tour, if you are ever going to be in our neck of the woods.

Does the ranch ever close?
Please contact the Ranch for our open days/hours.

Is Refuge Ranch a residential facility?
At this time Refuge is a day­-use facility only. This means those who use the ranch visit it during the day but are not housed here.

Can visiting families or groups be hosted overnight on the Refuge grounds?
We are unable to host overnight guests, families, volunteer groups or participants due to the limited size of our facility. Our insurance also does not cover this type of ranch activity. It is our desire to one day host ranch visitors, but at this time we are limited. However if you have a group of volunteers interested in a short term mission trip or service project, please contact us for housing options. We are located adjacent to a state park which offers both camp sites and rustic cabins. In addition there are many hotels, bed and breakfasts and other housing options available close by.

Is Refuge Ranch a religious organization?
Refuge Ranch is a faith based organization. While no participant is ever required to participate in religious activities, our founders, Board of Directors, and staff all believe in God and the saving grace of His Son Jesus Christ. It is our greatest desire to serve God by the demonstration of our faith through action and our highest honor to serve children and families of all backgrounds.


For more information on how to get involved with our Freedom Reins Adaptive Riding Program please contact

For more information in how to get involved with our Bridges mentoring program, please contact

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