Horse & Rider
Rescue Horses Rescuing Youth
At Charis Ranch, rescue horses are changing the lives of at-risk children.
them, that we value them, and that they matter to us,” says Cookman.
The second part of the session focuses on horsemanship activities that range from in-hand obstacle courses to riding. By the end of the summer, teens who had no previous horse experience are capable horse handlers. However, they have learned far more than equestrian skills. They’ve learned character building, relational skills, and the importance of service.
“They learn that there’s more to life than the small focus they’ve experienced so far,” says Cookman. “Our goal is to give them hope that life can be different and that they don’t have to be stuck in the lifestyle that they were before.”
One Triumph Youth participant—a young man who had been struggling with addiction—fell in love with a rescue horse named Romeo and was determined to ride him despite his total lack of horse experience. The teen worked toward his goal all summer and by the end of the program, he was joyfully loping around the arena on Romeo. On the last day of the program, he spent quality time simply resting his forehead on the neck of the horse who had become his teacher and friend.
The ranch’s programs are uniquely effective because children who have been labeled as “lost causes” connect with horses who once had the same label placed on them. When the staff at Charis Youth Ranch tells them that no one is worthless or too broken to fix, they have proof in the shape of the ranch’s 28 rescue horses who have also been given a new lease on life. At Charis Youth Ranch, everyone—whether two-legged or four— has value, regardless of their circumstances or past.