Freedom Reigns Ranch
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An Update on Freedom
"Freedom", an approximately 9 Y.O. palomino QH was rescued at the end of October, to read more of this precious young horse's story and legacy, read-on...
I want to take a few minutes to update you on Freedom- our newest member to the herd.
These past two weeks have been very full. Our session days have been long ones as we have welcomed more new participants, continue to work with the horses, and train volunteers. We find ourselves again at our serving capacity, wait list growing, and so thankful for so many who have stepped up in sharing the load: whether by volunteering time or giving resources. This Ranch is truly a community effort!
Freedom has been doing fantastic! This sweet horse is showing his personality as he grows in trust and confidence more and more every day. We're also learning a few quirks and triggers that give us a little bit of a clue into his past. We've learned he doesn't like small/confined spaces and his startle response is magnified in those spaces- yet if he is with someone he trusts he instantly is calm. He does not like the sound of a whip pop or swishing rope and reacts by running away as fast as possible. He likes to stay clean, he loves his mineral block, he is very expressive in the way his body shows what he is thinking and feeling. He is naturally curious, very submissive, and loves to have his head held if you approach him in a soft and quiet manner. As he has settled into his huge pasture at the ranch we’ve seen him taking naps next to his pasture mates, he's now eating very slowly since he knows he gets two meals a day, he's gaining muscle and lots of weight (maybe a little too much in his belly ;).
Our participants LOVE him. He is "the perfect cuddle horse", as one girl said. He's seen a few tears because of his sweet personality- he exhibits complete peace and trust when allowing participants to simply hug him, almost as if he’s holding them too. He’s holding space where nurture has often been neglected, and it’s as if both Freedom and our sweet participants exhale together, realizing they’re both loved. They feel safe with him and so many see themselves in his story- once abandoned, still working through triggers, trying to find their fit, and learning how to trust.
We had not planned on using him actively as a session horse one on one with participants for another few weeks until we understood more of his "buttons" and had the chance to work through them, but last night God had a different plan.
When this horse's need became known a few weeks ago, in timing with our need for another session horse, we knew one of his main "assignments" would be with the girls that come to the Ranch who are trafficking survivors. One of the girls had her session last night and as we’ve done the past two weeks, we bring Freedom to the front of the barn and allow them to meet him as they hear his story. Freedom seemed to take to this girl right away- so much so that when she went in to get her helmet on, he actually followed her INTO our tiny tack room and calmly waited for help to get out when he realized he may not be able to get out without help. After a near heart-attack on my part, we went into the roundpen for her session. She gently brought him through the familiar desensitizing exercises we do with every horse using our hands and using the stick. Exercises with the stick involving more patience and reassurance, lessons being quickly paralleled in boundaries, attachment, trust in leadership between our precious participant and the activities she was doing, and ending with Freedom following her at complete liberty wherever she went.
This sweet horse’s name has become a banner for his life and legacy he will have at the Ranch very quickly: Freedom from the prison he was once in helping bring freedom to the participants he will now meet.
Freedom Reigns Ranch Founder and Executive Director
First Annual Charity Fun Horse Show and Community Event
August 6, 2016 at Harlinsdale Farm
What an incredible day! THANK YOU to everyone who came out to what we will now call the “First Annual” Freedom Reigns Ranch Charity Fun Horse Show and Community Event! We had 67 horses participate, and about 300 people join us throughout the day at beautiful, historic Harlinsdale Farm. An incredible team of 57 volunteers and a team of “in the moment recruited volunteers” helped the day run very well and we hope everyone had an amazing time.
The support you’ve shown is truly astonishing. This is all about being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in a very practical way to those who have been through traumatic or challenging circumstances by using a part God's creation: horses! And because of your support on August 6th and in the future, our program continues to be completely free of charge to all who come.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any suggestions on how we can make next year’s event even better. Also, if you did not place in a class and would like a participation ribbon, we would love to mail one to you! Please email us to request this.
Again, we greatly apologize to our barrel and pole riders for having to call off due to lightning and incoming storms. We are very sorry to have had to make that disappointing call but had to put safety first.
THANK YOU AGAIN TO OUR SPONSORS: they made this event possible and because of their generosity, EVERY SINGLE CLASS ENTRY FEE WENT DIRECTLY TO SUPPORT FREEDOM REIGNS PROGRAMS!!
SPONSORS: Peppy Wood Butler Bonnie's Barnyard
MULTI-DIVISION SPONSORS: College Grove Baptist Church Second Wind Farm LLC
DIVISION SPONSORS: Walnut Trace Farm Brookstone Farm Gait Keeper Farm Elaine Blount Kate Bushman Middle Tennessee Carriage Club Ruth Henry Lisa Robinson Giarratana Tennessee Tack Exchange, Inc. Julia Palasek North
CLASS SPONSORS: Bibi Crane, Annie Crane Anna Crabtree
Thank you to our SILENT AUCTION DONORS: FarmVet.com, Sam Ornellas Art, Bonnie's Barnyard, Inc. GeorgeAnn Dingus, Laura Mungioli, Nicolette Ashley, Tony Evans Bedford Tack, Elizabeth Windrow, Jill Zientek Photographic Artist, Ruth Henry, Tony Evans, Bonnie Ozburn, Dorothy Thornton
And our item/rental donors: Franklin Polo Academy, FarmVet, Evans Farrier Services/Tony Evans, Middle Tennessee Carriage Club/Kevin and Kate Bushman for the driving cones/obstacles, Duke It Out Farm/Wren Fraiser, Walnut Trace Farm/Grace Johnson, Middle TN Pony Club, Shane Handy, Ken Hartley, Mark Thornton, Royal Ribbons and Awards
"Body Trust and Horses"
This was beautifully written by one of our volunteers about what the Lord is teaching her through her time at the farm.
I cannot recall a time when I trusted my body - it’s ability to function properly, my ability to see it realistically, or quite honestly it’s worthiness to be treated respectably. I look at old pictures and see the shape and size of my body and stare in disbelief. In the pictures, I look nothing like the image I had so convincingly conjured in my mind that I too saw in my reflection. It’s confusing. Though the stability of my pants size should be evidence enough to negate the irrational belief that each bite equals fat, often, it isn’t sufficient. The game of comparison has overwhelmed my thoughts for years: “her legs are smaller than mine,” “I am fatter than her,” “even my brothers are skinnier than me”. This unfair game, with ultimately no winner, fed the control-obsessed-monster that became an eating disorder. Soon my lack of trust in my body became an addiction to control all with the potential to effect my body.
Close your eyes and fast-forward through pain, lies, manipulation, loss, and depression.
Now open your eyes and see the group of people who loved me back to life as Jesus freed me from the monster.
Here I stand on the other side of 200 days at Mercy Multiplied. While I can honestly say that I walked out of those doors with a firm grip on the hand of Jesus, my surrender to Him hadn’t yet met a resolution to trust the vessel carrying His Spirit. I left with a confidence that I could stay on track with a healthy meal plan and continue exploring once forbidden foods. I did not, however, walk out believing my body would ever function to its fullest potential again. Comfort in my skin is something I am still fighting to attain.
Here’s where the horses come in: some how, some way, God opened an unexpected door and I leaped right through it, landing amidst the adventure of a beautiful person’s beautiful dream. Simply put, I get to walk aside kids as they find refuge in a farm- the perfect place for the Creator to show himself to his children through his creation, the horses. Part of this adventure also involves me learning to ride. From day one I have absolutely loved it. There is nothing like connecting with a 2,400lb animal and trusting its willingness to submit to your minute, human-sized authority. Nothing. The thing about riding a horse though is that you go where the horse goes, and the horse goes where your body tells it to go.
I like to believe that I am a logical and reasonable person, therefore in my mind it would be mechanical in a sense. Motion is simply the reaction to force, right? Wrong. I learned this as I slid, in a not-so-graceful manner, off the horse and smacked into the not-so-forgiving earth. I didn’t trust my body’s natural ability to adapt to the bouncing of a trot and instead attempted to control my every muscle as I bounced up and down. I didn’t know how to relax my body. As my sore bones continue to remind me, this is something that is going to have to change.
I’m a pretty persistent person. When I commit to something, I like to do so in excellence. I think God had this in mind when He opened that door I mentioned earlier. I think He knew I’d fall for the horses. He knew that my lack of trust in my body would remain until I was forced to come face-to-face with it, and so, He began a passion in me that would require such a confrontation. Thank you God for always having a plan, even when right now it feel like you are poking me in all of my tender place.
Hoping it won’t require too many more slipping, falling, and crashing moments, I’m going to face this long time beast. Now with a more tangible war to fight, I am going to pick up the weapons of truth I have learned and apply them to this new world of horseback riding. I am going to believe that the One who holds me in the palm of His hand, also holds heaven-filled flesh. The Creator knows His Creation. He sustains every function of my being. He pumps blood to my heart and fills my lungs with breath. He floods my cells with commands each moment of the day. It’s time that I allow Him to do His work in me. Maybe somewhere along the way, the dots will connect and as I allow Him to flow through me, my body will settle into the ups and the downs; maybe it will settle into the ride.
Welcoming Our First Rescue Horse
AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING HOPE AND HEALING TO SURVIVORS!
please take 5 minutes to read this and learn how you can partner with Freedom Reigns at a crucial time. (Posted November 9, 2016 - Update: ENTIRE FUNDS NEEDED RAISED IN 6 DAYS! Thank you, and PRAISE GOD!)
I was originally going to be sending out an email that was talking about our need for 2017. im the past few days the need became more pressing, and here’s the story… Please take a few minutes to read this- I believe it is God at work:
One of the organizations we work with that brings their clients out to the ranch is directly involved in the rescue of female human trafficking victims. We had known that this month they were going to be bringing a new girl out and this was already making the need for another solid-bodied QH or draft type horse, we were slowly beginning the search and planned this expense in our 2017 budget. Sunday evening we found out that they rescued a 19 year old girl out of a very traumatizing situation earlier that day and asked if we could have her start in November as well. She was in a desperate circumstance and starting her at the ranch right away would be a very healing experience for her. Knowing we didn’t have the horse-power, I said yes, either believing 1) we will find a way to rotate horses (it’s important to not make them sour to session work and honor their limits) or 2) God will provide for a horse.
Almost not surprisingly, on Monday morning one of the Freedom Reigns Board Members contacted me. Last week, she had rescued a horse that had been left alone in a dog pen for over a month. Thankfully neighbors were providing water, but this horse had clearly been abandoned and his owners were not coming back for him. After spending time with him, she thought his personality may be a great fit for Freedom Reigns- and not surprisingly, he is a solid-boned palomino quarter horse. With some groceries and time, he will fill out nicely.
Freedom Reigns has the opportunity to be directly involved by taking on this rescue and bringing him back to full health and healing while at the same time we have the opportunity to have our session participants help in a very practical way to see this horse healed: physically and mentally- just as they often are at the Ranch! I think of how much our participants will be able to relate to this horse’s story and know how they will connect…. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DO THIS!
This is a great case for us to take because his rescue was intervened at an early stage and his rehab will not drain ministry resources. Adding a horse allows us to serve 3 more participants per week at a minimum (12-20 sessions per month) so the expense is well invested! To be fully transparent: veterinary allowance for yearly care, farrier expense, and board (feed, hay, pasture: we are currently at a place where we are paying a premium per horse, though searching for a long term land lease has begun which will ultimately reduce per-horse expenses) runs $450 per horse per month. Alone, that’s a big number, divided between many, it’s totally possible!
If you were already considering joining us as a monthly supporter in January, would you consider starting your giving early? It’s super easy through Paypal (link: www.freedomreignsranch.com/donate.html , you can make this reoccurring monthly on this page or simply do a onetime gift).
This is a time sensitive matter and our goal THIS WEEK is to have the commitments and first month paid so we can bring this horse to his new home at Freedom Reigns… Can we find just 9 people to donate $50 per month? Is that something you personally can help with? If $50 is too much of a stretch, would $25 be possible? Nothing is too small and every bit helps. Is there a champion out there who can sponsor his entire year for $5400? We would love to honor you in a special way by allowing you to choose the name for our new “angel in horsehair” and would include a special tag on his halter with your name as well. Perhaps a business can take this sponsorship- we’d love to give you some special recognition and direct people your way!
Please prayerfully consider how the Lord would have you be a partner in hope and healing through Freedom Reigns…. for our participants, and this newly rescued horse!
Serving each Other
Due to some unanticipated time conflicts with participants in yesterday's sessions we ended up having some overlap time between a teenage participant and a younger boy that we serve with a partner ministry. Though every session is one leader, one horse, we felt like the Lord may have something for them together....
The Lord's plan unfolded perfectly before our eyes, as it always does, and He gave a precious gift of seeing a part of His plan for this ministry unfold more fully. Together in the center of lunging Boston on a longline, they laughed and worked together (one holding the line, the other holding the stick) to communicate with him and had him flawlessly executing different gaits. Seeing the older/slightly more experienced participant helping the younger and less experienced one gave a perfect picture of the Lord's heart for seeing young people healed, discipled, and then equipped to serve brought a few tears! It was a small, but poignant moment that was an absolute joy to witness last night!
Lessons from horses... about God?
Horse people, you'll really understand this one- although everyone I'm sure will relate. So, yesterday I took a friend out to ride. As I was explaining to her the basics of how to move her horse she said something quite profound: "So, the ultimate goal is to be able to ride without a bridle. To be able to move the horse simply by your body (True!)... that's what it should be like in our relationship with God. That He doesn't have to pull on us or kick us but that we would go where He asks and be able to move so responsively". (cue mind blowing moment for me, as this is something I've been praying about lately... thank you God for bringing it to my level).
So much truth wrapped up in that statement!
As riders, we know that amazing bond and pure connection when we are able to have our horse respond in complete obedience to the most subtle shift of weight or pressure of our leg on his side. When we are able to melt to a halt without so much as thinking "woah" or do a perfect half-pass with the slightest leg aid, or when our horse offers collection without any pressure on the bit. The only way to accomplish such finesse is to devote the time in perfecting the horse's, and our own training, and develop a bond based on complete trust. Truly it is the pinnacle of obedience and trust.
What would it be like to be so yoked up with the Lord? That we would move as He directs without any hesitation. That we would willingly listen with obedience to the slightest, most subtle direction He gives. No resistance. No second-guessing. Only knowing that to be in His perfect will is the absolute pinnacle of obedience, finesse, and the ultimate bond we can have with our Heavenly Father.
"I will show you and teach you in the way you should go. I will tell you what to do with My eye upon you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the donkey which have no understanding. They must be made to work by using bits and leather ropes or they will not come to you." (Psalm 32:8-9).