This month, as we returned after our long Christmas break, I offered a space once again to a young lady who I have cancelled twice before.  I have been really quite unclear about how appropriate our program is for her.  She has some physical limitations and Raven Rock just doesn’t have the right equipment or trained volunteers to accommodate her.  But when I consulted with her instructor, Julie, she pointed out so clearly that Holly was benefiting so much from her time here.  Julie recounted Holly’s increased self-esteem and confidence.  I decided that she could come out and do what truly is the heart of our program: groundwork with her chosen horse, Rachel. ?The first week back did not go well.  Holly refused to do anything by herself.  She would not halter Rachel, pick the feet, or clean the stall.  Finally, I simply said, “You don’t have to be here, Holly. You can go home if you want to.”  “But I DO want to be here!”  “Why?” I asked her, because it did not seem to me that she was engaged at all.  Several steps backwards, I was thinking.  “Because of the horses.  I want to be with the horses!”  She was more engaged now than she had been all afternoon. ??The following week would be the test, I thought.  It would prove my decision to invite Holly back either right or wrong.  I was pulling for her, but was skeptical. ?I allowed Julie to do her work that day with Holly.  I stayed out of the way.  When I went out near the end of their time together, Holly came bursting out of the barn.  “I did great today! Today is a new day!” Holly enthusiastically reported.  She told me of doing everything on her own, things that she had never even tried before, she mastered.  At the end of her report, she added, “Rachel followed me all over the round pen, without a lead line on!  I was her leader!”  Tears were streaming down her cheeks and mine by now.  It was not just an accomplishment today that gave Holly hope.  It was that she had become someone she never thought she could be: a leader.  As I watched Holly turn to finish up her chores, her Mother, who had been there listening and watching the transformation of her daughter, quietly said, “Thank you.”??I turned to her with tears in my eyes, I said, ”No. Thank YOU for being so persistent and tenacious about advocating for your child.  I learned something today. I learned to try again…”

I often learn something at Raven Rock.  God teaches me, daily, the things that I feel I should know but somehow need another lesson in.  That day it was trying again.  Sometimes it is patience, or love, or hope.  These are the things of Raven Rock Ranch that are painted in such vivid colors on the faces of our kids that your support helps to transform.  And gratitude is what I feel every single day to God and to all of you who are His remarkable helpers.  Without all of you, these stories would never be written. ?? You are such an important part of every miracle here. Thank you so much!!!


Sandy Matts,