"Our 7 year old son, Matthew, was born with Angelman Syndrome and an unknown neurotransmitter disorder. He struggles daily with balance, delayed motor skills, and is non-verbal. Even through his struggles, he is very social and smiley. We got him involved in t-ball and other activities, but found that they were more stressful than enjoyable for him. We were encouraged to look into horseback riding. Equine therapy can come with a hefty price tag, so we were really just looking for somewhere that he could ride assisted for enjoyment. We wanted him to have something to look forward to every week.
We came across Freedom Reins at Refuge Ranch. I did research online and was stunned to see that there was no cost to the family. I was skeptical, that this would not be what we were looking for. Our first time out to the Ranch, Matthew was scared to death. He did not want to get near the horse, let alone ride it, but the staff and volunteers were great with him! They helped him get to know the Ranch and the horses. They did not force him to do anything he wasn’t ready to do… he started out just walking next to the horse, and then petting, and then brushing…. The first two sessions, M did not ride, but the third time, he reluctantly mounted his horse. From that moment on, the smile on his face was constant and usually he was laughing. He needed Daddy close by that session, but after that, he has been Mr. Independent. This has brought him so much joy! And that’s not all…. He gets therapy, too! The exercises and activities they do on horseback are so beneficial for kiddos like Matthew! It’s funny that the only time he is unhappy at the Ranch is when it’s time to get off his horse and leave. We have been so blessed by this program and all who are a part of it. I love telling Matthew, “It’s time to get your boots on, we’re going to ride your horse!”… the giggles and excitement that ensue are music to this Momma’s ears! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone involved and everyone who supports this program!"
"This ministry is mostly for the kids. It blesses them, stretches them, and nurtures them in so many ways. But as a mom/ foster mom/ minister, I too am blessed. While my kids are being fed into, I am able to stop, breath and refresh myself. No one needs me, They are all with trusted mentors, and I can stop.. There are days I study, or nap. days i sit by the pond and listen for God to speak."
- Mom of Bits of Hope Participant
About 5 years or so ago, I was looking for a place for my granddaughter to find peace and comfort for at least a few hours a week/month to deal with her hurt & anger from years of having parents who could not take care of her because of addiction. Tessla has lived with my & husband & I most of her 12 years now. Tessla has been going to the ranch for nearly 7 years now and she has found her “refuge” from the storms in her young life. Refuge Ranch is her “heaven” as she calls it and whenever it is time to leave from a session, it is difficult to get her to leave! Refuge Ranch gives an opportunity for healing for so many at risk kids and I am thankful for the staff and program that it offers and they do not charge for their sessions which could be a concern for families that need this but could not afford to go if they charged fees."
- Grandma of a Bits of Hope Participant
"Our son Payton has participated in Freedom Reins for the past year and half. He has participated in other equine therapy programs, but there is something special about Freedom Reins The volunteers are wonderful and they are truly compassionate about each child. Payton enjoys riding and works hard. This program gives him the opportunity to participate in an activity. Thank you to everyone who supports this program!"
Refuge provides authentic relationships that often do not exist in this world - face to face...at Refuge, someone that authentically cares, invests, helps to carry a very heavy load that today's child carries. The relationships that come from animals and people who don't reject, shame, or manipulate - something different than what she had experienced in today's sometimes cruel world"
- Mom of a Bits of Hope Participant