As winter slowly turns to spring, we have a moment to pause and reflect on the last few months. The Holiday season was very busy but also a testament to the generosity of our dedicated donors. For many of the kids at The Ranches, this level of generosity can be a bit overwhelming and somewhat confusing. For kids who have spent their lives with the distinct feeling that they were either a burden or an inconvenience, having such an abundance of support and generosity ran counter to their long-held beliefs about themselves. I can’t thank you enough for that. I spend a great deal of time and energy working to convince the kids that they are not an inconvenience to me and not a burden to The Ranches.
With your help, Christmas gifts, cards expressing Season’s Greetings and parties thrown by donors for the kids, all did an amazing job of reinforcing what we are trying to teach. We were truly blessed, and the kids could feel your dedication to them and to their success. For that, I am truly humbled and appreciative.
As many of you know, we are in the process of raising money for an indoor horse arena. If you’ve ever felt the bitter cold during a high wind or the sting of sand as it hits your face at 40MPH, you’ll understand why we want to have an enclosed space to ride. While we’re not planning anything “too fancy”, it is a tremendous undertaking. Much to my surprise, we are already well on our way. Thanks to you, we have raised more that $100,000 for the arena.
While some may think that this is an unnecessary “luxury,” I wanted you to know why we are working to build this arena. For most of the kids at The Ranches, horses weren’t part of their upbringing. They are just animals that are out of reach and are only available to the “rich kids” who are already blessed with a perfect family and nice things. While we know this isn’t actually the case, to a struggling kid, it can sure feel that way. This dynamic allows us to teach the very first lesson when kids come to us; You are worth our time and you are worthy of being included in our life and in the lives of the horses. You don’t have to be rich or “earn” your way to the barn. It is there because you are here.
Once we have taught the kids they are worthy of our time and of being with the horses, we can then start on lesson two; horses only respond to us based on what we show them. They are not prejudiced or biased. They simply want to be around people and they tend to reflect the best or worst in us when we spend time with them. I cannot adequately express to you the sense of accomplishment that comes across a child’s face when they start to build a relationship with a horse. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.
Lastly, the horses serve as healers for many kids. While a lifetime can be spent dwelling on everything that has hurt us or kept us from realizing our potential, horses simply do not care about dwelling in the past. God made horses to dwell in the present and they tend to keep us there as well. Once kids realize this, they begin to focus on today and what they can accomplish. Seeing a child go from timid, shy and imprisoned in their past to assertive, smiling and participating in their own success is one of the many things that makes this job so great.
If you’ve contributed to our indoor arena, please know I am genuinely appreciative of your help. If you haven’t had a chance, but you’d like to help, we are still raising the money to finish this project. Once completed, we can bring hope and healing through horses to kids in a safe and sheltered environment. Please know that, if you’d like to support The Ranches in a different way, we are always accepting donations for our general fund and would never allocate your donation without knowing your intent.
Heath Kull, President