Biographical Non-Fiction posted May 20, 2017

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A Boy's Experience at the Ranch

Horse Hugs

by MelB


I had the pleasure of meeting a single mom and her three children last week. To say this family has been through the ringer is an understatement. The woman was abandoned by the father, while pregnant with twin girls. The father of her third child was arrested for physical abuse of one of the twin toddlers, breaking two of her limbs. Charges were filed, and he went to jail.

There have been different men in and out of their lives, as the mother has dated. The twins have never met their father, and the boy hasn't known his father because of the arrest.

I spoke to the mother on the phone and invited them out to the ranch. When they arrived, I spent time introducing myself and the horses to the children. The horses came right over to see the new faces. The kids spent time getting acquainted with each horse, while brushing and petting them.

I asked if they wanted to ride, and my answer came in the form of three big smiles. After I saddled one of the horses, the kids took turns riding. I started out leading the horse around, allowing the kids time to get used to it. I led them over a wooden bridge, and some other obstacles we have in the round pen. One of the girls informed me they had all ridden horses before, and asked if she could go off the rope. After receiving mom's permission, I unhooked the rope, and turned her loose. When she was finished, the other two children followed suit.

We finished out the session with a game of follow the leader, where a horse and rider trot after a person running on the ground. With one kid on the horse, the other two children ran around the round pen. Even mom took a turn being chased by the horse. For me, there is no greater joy than seeing the broad grins and hearing the echo of children's laughter. It's the reward that makes what I do worthwhile.

Mom revealed on the phone, that her son had depression and was on anti-depressant medication at age 10. Age 10?! This news saddened my heart. Depression hits home with me anyway, as my mom suffered with it for the majority of her life. I also had depression, until about 7 years ago, when I was freed from its grip. I went through intensive counseling, and grew much closer to God. In dealing with my past, God not only healed my wounds, but also released me from the deep, dark tentacles of depression. Praise God!

As I worked with the girls, I noticed the boy had gone over to the other horses. I watched him talking to them, and petting them. I turned my attention back to the girls, and then glanced over at him again. He had his arms wrapped around the horse's neck, giving it a big hug. Something amazing happened! The horse turned its head into the boy, and hugged him back. I watched him go to two more horses and do the same thing. Both horses turned their head into the boy, and reciprocated.

You might not think this is a big deal, but one of those horses has sensitive skin and doesn't like to be overstimulated. For this reason, and because she is older, I don't use her as much for therapy. One of the other horses hasn't had a lot of work, and isn't used for our therapy program.

Before each session, I pray and ask the Lord to show me what is needed and how I can help the people coming. I ask Him to show His presence and to do what I can't do. Each time I pray this, God answers. He shows up in those horses and I see things I've never seen. I wish I could've captured a picture of one of those hugs. Again, for each horse to hug the child, is a rare occurrence.

The family is scheduled to come back this week, and I hope I can catch one of those moments on camera. It's truly amazing to see God's hand at work. One of the many reasons -- I love my job!


The picture is similar to what happened, except the boy stood directly in front of the horse.

"There's something about the outside of a horse, that's good for the inside of man." Winston Churchill

For more information about the ranch, go to
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