Here's a glimpse into the ways the Flying Horse Foundation has impacted the lives of the youth we serve. The names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our participants but the struggles and improvement described are representative of the stories of most of our children and youth.
Maria* was in foster care before being adopted. She has been in eight different homes. She’s also known more abuse, neglect and trauma in her young life than most adults will ever experience.
When we first met Maria, it was almost impossible for her to trust; to connect; to give and receive respect; to give and receive love. She lived in a state of hypervigilance and fear, always waiting for the next shoe to drop. Maria was struggling terribly in school and wasn’t adjusting well with her new adoptive family. They loved her immensely, but all the love and stability
wasn’t enough. For Maria and her adoptive family, life was feeling hopeless. One decision changed the direction for Maria. Her mom signed her up for Flying Horse Foundation’s Equine Program and after a few months, most everything in her life had changed for the better. Maria met a new equine friend at Flying Horse Ranch named Bluejeans, a blue roan quarter horse. He
is kind and patient, but can require his humans to be confident and trustworthy. Slowly, but surely, Maria began to trust for the first time in her life. She could tell Bluejeans secrets about her past that she couldn’t tell anyone else. She loved his smell, his soft muzzle in her face and his reliability and dependability. As she looked into that big brown eye each week, she began to realize it was ok to let her guard down. She began to connect. And if she could connect with Bluejeans, maybe, just maybe, her new adoptive family might be safe to connect to as well. Maria also learned that when you give respect, you get it in turn. She felt proud of herself for the first time as she learned to protect and care for Bluejeans. She groomed him, cared for him, and learned what it meant to be in a relationship with mutual respect and without fear. She looked
forward to coming to the Ranch each week and slowly her demeanor began to change. School and home both got better. Maria had hope for the first time in her life. Maria’s mom was incredulous with her progress and recently thanked Maria’s facilitator, Sara, for the difference the program has made in Maria’s life. With her voice shaking, Maria’s mom said “When I pick her up now, she’s happy, positive and upbeat and I can’t thank you enough for this gift.”
David, 16 came to the Ranch angry and aggressive with an open Department of Human Services case and escalating behaviors.
He started working with Benji, his horse and loved to care for him, especially feeding and preparing his meals. Over the last year, we have seen him totally change. He loves coming to the ranch and would come everyday if he could - even to unload hay or clean stalls. His parents report he has made incredible improvements and no longer resorts to aggression to cope with anger but stops, takes a deep breath, and proceeds. He has also increased his empathy and recognizes his impact on others.
Laura, 17, came to the ranch about 11 months ago to help her cope with the loss of her uncle, grandfather and 7 students in her school to suicide.
She struggled significantly from depression, anxiety and low self esteem. During her time, she has hit hurdle after hurdle and has been thrown several challenges, especially with her physical health including myoclonic spasms, feeding tube and several surgeries. She was forced to take a leave of absence from school. With all of this, the Ranch is her special place where she is always wanted and accepted. She gets the freedom to rest without pressure from her world. Her goal was to be able to ride again. We are happy to report she rode within a few months!