STORIES OF HOPE

Jesse & Anna: A Pact of Trust

When Anna stepped foot on United States soil after spending the first seven years of her life in a Russian orphanage abandoned by her biological family, she felt overjoyed to be adopted by Americans. “When I was 7, I moved into house with people who would become my parents.” And, even though she was surrounded by kind and loving family, Anna still found herself feeling very alone. But, she was determined that this ‘strange American life’ would help repair the pain of her past- and immersed herself into learning how to speak English and adjust to a new and different culture.

When Anna turned 15, something terribly sad happened.

“My parents got a divorce,” shared Anna. “I was in denial for a very long time. I never asked for this, I never wanted this. And, because I had no choice, I became depressed. I was supposed to have the healthy family  that I did not have in Russia. But now, I did not even have that.”

Through the next few years, Anna felt like her hopes were dashed over and over again. The ability to trust became very difficult and she felt hopeless about her life.

Yet, in the midst of all the turmoil, she found respite at Hope Reins. Here, at the ranch, our mission is to comfort hurting kids with one-on-one sessions between a loving leader and an ‘equine counselor.’ Anna’s story is an amazing testimony not only to God’s ability to heal wounds, but the impact you, as a donor, a volunteer or supporter, make every day at Hope Reins.

“Hope Reins gives two hurting beings a moment to connect. When they connect, it’s outstanding. It’s through this connection that God is healing hearts,” says Anna.

When Anna met Jesse, the beautiful brown-eyed mare at Hope Reins, she was immediately drawn to her. Rescued by the United States Equine Rescue League from starvation, the vet did not think Jesse would survive. But remarkably, she did, and today delights everyone with her insightful personality. Anna found Hope in how Jesse overcame the excruciatingly hard parts of her life and deeply understands why Jesse continues to have difficulty feeling safe. “I made a pact with her,” says Anna. “If I trust you,” she recalled saying to Jesse, “then you need to trust me.” And as Jesse made good on her pact, she cultivated a characteristic Anna’s life had lacked: the ability to trust. 

When the bridge to trust was rebuilt, Anna began to draw nearer to God every day. When she wasn’t at Hope Reins, she found solace in drawing, and she is talented! One night during Bloom, the ranch’s teen girl discipleship program, God united Anna’s trials and her talents. A Bloom leader read Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” The leader then asked the girls, “What does this verse mean and how does it display that God is All-Sufficient?”

Anna boldly said, “I can’t explain it, but I can draw it.” After a piece of paper and bin of markers were placed in front of her, she chose a blue marker. Line by line, the drawing unfolded before the group’s eyes. Anna explained each stroke almost unconsciously- she drew a weak creature asleep underneath an enormous, indescribable force. Then, she chose a red marker and finished the drawing with a small, red circle. Everyone was amazed to see what she revealed.

In her drawing, Anna accurately displayed how weak and small we are, yet she equally drew the mightiness of God. The shading she filled the red-eyed creature with showed how the shadow of the Most High was protected and provided rest for the weak creature underneath.

As Anna reflected, she was reminded of three options a therapist had given her: “In life, I can either fight, flight or freeze in the midst of scary circumstances.” While Anna is often frozen in fear, she has learned a great lesson through horsemanship– when a horse is scared, they also have the choice to fight, flight or freeze. By watching Jesse’s responses to fear, Anna has realizes the best place for Jesse to be when scary objects come her was is resting in the trusting relationship they share.

Psalm 91:1 so dearly articulated what God was already showing Anna through her relationship with Jesse: when reason for fear arises, there is a greater reason to trust God in the midst of the unknown.

We couldn’t have provided Jesse or programs like Bloom to make such a difference in Anna’s life if it weren’t for YOUR support. Your financial contributions provide True Hope and Real Healing. Thank you!

Brianna’s Blessing

An extremely introverted 11-year old, Brianna had a hard time making friends. Her parents, Nicole and Duane, heard about Hope reins on HIS Radio and read about the ministry’s unique approach using equine counselors to connect with kids. After visiting the ranch, Brianna immediately found her own special ’angle in horsehair’ in Kody, the beautiful sorrel quarter horse, and began a journey of overcoming her shyness and learning to reach out for new relationships.

But the blessings for Brianna didn’t stop there. The Ealy family found themselves in turbulent waters when Duane lost his job, and he credits the ministry’s volunteers and staff for encouraging support and prayers. “We know Hope Reins would be special for Brianna,” Duane says, “But what we didn’t expect was what a blessing it was for our entire family.”

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Jordan and Anna

Many kids arrive at the ranch a bit reserved as they adjust to acres of wide open space, lush green pastures and miles of white picket fencing encircling the Hope Reins herd. A few though, like Jordan, provide memorable entrances as they whirl into the gate with such tornadic force, you’d swear clouds of dust rise and fall with his every move.

“He was ball of energy,” says Anna Foulkrod, who was the session leader paired with Jordon. “He jumped on my back and off we went together.”

Little did Anna know at the time, but God had an amazing journey planned for the 9-year old sparkplug, who lived at a Durham boarding school after both parent’s had died, and it included her as well.

Jordan immediately bonded with Shiloh, the sweet dapple pony, and slowly learned to channel his boundless energy into purposeful activities like brushing, riding and lunging.

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Building Confidence

Being a parent of children who have experienced trauma can be a very intense and lonely place. When Tricia heard about Hope Reins through an adoption support group, she and her two girls were excited about meeting the ‘angels in horsehair,’ but also a bit uneasy with no previous horsemanship skills. This was four years ago.

Today Tricia sits back and watches her youngest maneuver around the gentle horses like a seasoned pro – and most importantly her confidence has blossomed! “It is so nice to come to a place that is peaceful and loving when the rest of life is crazy,” says Tricia. “She can explore here and just be herself.”

According to Tricia, her daughter’s favorite twosome at Hope Reins is Essie, the beautiful Morgan pony named after “Queen Esther” in the bible, and Sonny, her handsome Palomino ‘boyfriend.’ Not only is her daughter now a seasoned pro, but she’s a matchmaker too!

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A Family Story

What began as an idyllic adoption journey for a close-knit family of five became a nightmare that almost tore them apart. “I thought we would be the forever family for these two boys,” says Kelli Worley, “but there is no fairytale ending here.”

Kelli’s brutally honest story of expanding her family to include two Colombian orphans, both with special needs, is heartbreaking and painful, but serves as an inspiring testimony for the comfort and solace she found at Hope Reins.

Although most adoptions are profoundly joyful, the Worley’s plight began with a fraudulent agency misrepresenting the boys they had planned to take home. “We had no idea the depth of the emotional and physical problems Aidan and Bryan had,” says Kelli. The Worley’s life became chaotic and filled with angry outbursts, attacks and erratic behavior by the boys. Even more difficult to bear, was watching her two teenagers and young daughter become more withdrawn and depressed.

“We came to Hope Reins with the intention of helping the boys we adopted,” says Kelli. “But we realized it was our little girl, Georgia, who was crying out for help.”

When the 8-year old joined the program, she immediately bonded with Cadence, a beautiful and patient Morgan horse. Over the next several months, Kelli lingered around the ranch and loved watching her daughter ride her new companion. Kelli also finally found the comfort, courage and strength to make the difficult decision to find a more suitable home to meet the boys’ specific needs. “My lifeline was the hours I spent just talking on and on with the sweet volunteers at the ranch. Nobody judged me, they just listened.” Kelli says.

Today, Kelli takes great comfort in knowing Aidan and Bryan are now each living with a family where they are the only child, which was the needed component to allow them to thrive according to therapists and counselors. “I thank God for lighting my path every step of the way,” says Kelli.

A path that led her to Hope Reins.

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Abby

The resident “Gentle Giant” at Hope Reins is definitely a study in contrast. Her majestic strength is evident to anyone who watches her heavily muscled legs move gracefully through the Hope Reins pasture, with wide set, intelligent eyes fixed on any new visitor. Weighing at around 2,000 pounds, this beautiful draft horse named Abby is called a Percheron, known for its gentle grace, firm faithfulness and mighty strength.

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