A complete Equine Assisted Therapy Wellness & Education center
It is easy to get excited about a new dream. There is a fresh optimism that has not been tainted with scars of trials. After a while, it can be discouraging if God does not move on your timeline.
I had no backup plan
Original barn with three shades of gray
After having many long conversations with God about this dream, I decided that I needed to share my vision with another friend. I envisioned rescuing a few horses and acquiring about five acres to run this program. Saying your dream out loud to someone takes courage. God was warming the soil.
I had no start up capital. I had no backup plan. All I had was a simple business plan and just enough courage to show up for the meeting with the potential investor.
The Ranch celebrates its legacy of hope and healing for 10 years! How did this dream become a reality? I invite you to take a look inside to see how God grows the seed He plants inside of each of us and combines it with His resources to grow a harvest that benefits many.
The seed of helping horses to heal humans was planted in my heart more than two decade ago. I had a background of professionally working with horses as well has teaching mid/high school. I saw the pain that many children brought with them daily to school. I knew in my heart that introducing these at-risk youth to horses would allow them to experience life changing lessons. How could this seed-sized dream ever sprout into reality? I had no property, personal horses or startup funds to use for this project. This was a long shot.
I had many discouraging conversations as we spoke with investors and looked into properties. The reality was that rescuing horses and using them to also rescue at-risk youth was not a financially beneficial investment. My seed was starting to dry up and wither.
Another opportunity presented itself. I had discovered a 45 acre farm that was for sale and had a lot of potential for this program. All of my smaller farm research had become dead ends. What I thought was God stomping out my dream was Him tilling the soil so that I would dream bigger. Through a friend and realtor, we were set up to meet an investor that I had hoped would give us the down payment for the property. If God could do that, surely He would help us raise the monthly mortgage payment. The property was listed for the "bargain price" of $750,000.
Title Title Title Title,
After having many long conversations with God...
ranch celebrates 10 years
The property was developed in 1980 and had a barn with 2 covered arenas. The problem was that everything had been neglected for 20+ years and was not safe for horses or kids.
The investor and I waded through the high weeds to explore the barn, leaning arenas and pond. The rotten fences were held together by draping paint and the stall doors in the barn were either missing or broken. I found myself wanting to run and hide as I was embarrassed that I could ever ask this gentleman for a donation for a place in this condition. The moment came when he finally asked what I was needing from him. Time stood still.
Doc, 2 years after living at the Ranch
Just like every new plant is fragile in the beginning, so was our new mission. There were numerous repairs, fundraising and hard lessons over the next 24 months. I learned that a crow bar and John Deere would be my two new best friends. Neighbors and friends gave countless hours to preparing the property for what was to come.
I shakily uttered the words that we would like help making the down payment for the property. The investor committed to us $25,000 that day and the realtor agreed to match that. God had provided $50,000 as a startup fund for Bit of Hope!
About an hour after that meeting, I received a phone call from realtor. Not only was the investor making a down payment, he was purchasing the property for the sole purpose of providing a location for this mission! God's resources are always bigger than we can imagine. That seed started to grow its roots that day and had the courage to peek its head out of the soil.
Large Covered Arena collapsed
from lack of bracing
God's recourses are always
bigger than we can imagine
Bit of Hope invested 16 months into getting the facility commercially zoned, approved by structural engineers as well as rebuilding stalls, fences and preparing for horses. The owner, local businesses and special groups provided dollars and sweat to jump start the growth of this mission. They are the original Ranch Heroes!
The Seed Takes Root
Meet Doc, our first rescue horse. He and a pasture mate were abandoned in a field in January with no access to shelter, food or water. By the time they were discovered, the pasture mate had died due to neglect. When Doc arrived at Bit of Hope his ribs poked through his matted hair. It was hard to tell what color he truly was. After a careful rehab diet, he looked like a new horse that spring. Unfortunately, we also discovered scars and marks from his abusive rides. He had a lot of healing and retraining ahead of him.
Now, the Ranch is home to 13 horses as well as small farm animals, dogs and cats. Everyone has a job and something to offer clients when they come through our gates.
Small arena built without correct footings
need help? reach out to our Ranch heroes
© Photographer Name
Eroded paths and lack of fencing
Over the last five years, we have used professional counseling teams to treat victims of trauma, abuse, addictions, etc. Last year, I felt that God was preparing us to also offer services for clients with special needs. With the gracious support of Shining Hope Farms, we have also added Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding to our list of services. With the addition of these physical therapy programs, the Ranch has blossomed into a complete Equine Assisted Therapy Wellness Center.
Certified Horseman's Association
The sprout grew taller as we added our mentoring programs using the rescued horse and trained volunteers to work with troubled children. For two years, we served children with a lot of damage and hurt. As the hurts grew larger than we could handle, it was clear that we needed professional help if we were going to truly make a difference. Shortly after that, we added licensed professional counselors to our team and became certified in EAGALA and Natural Lifemanship. These two models are internationally recognized models of equine assisted psychotherapy.
PHOTO BY: BLUERIDGEPHOTOGRAPHY
Registration Starts Now
Visit our website for more information on the various therapeutic riding programs. Sessions are offered weekly and take place in our covered arenas and on the sensory trails. We also need volunteers to help with these programs. Contact us today for more info.
GROWING AND SPREADING
Donate through the RUN & designate Bit of Hope as the recipient. The Community Foundation of Gaston County will match your donation by a percentage. It's an easy way to make your donation go further!
Give online today
It has taken 10 years for God to take this seed and grow it into a plant that offers life and hope. We have also had the privilege of helping to plant other seeds by writing manuals for other equine therapy centers as well as provided coaching for other startups.
Although I have seen many great things in the last 10 years, our mission is not always in the growing season. The stress of operating a non-profit, limited funds and a dependency on volunteers has threatened the progress and very life of this seed. I am convinced that if I had tried to grow this dream on my own strength it would have wilted and failed. God has provided the rain and sun as we have needed and continues to remind me to focus on building a deep strong root system founded on faith in Him.
My challenge to you is to ask God to grow the seed that He has planted in you. His desire is that you will bring life and hope to someone else by allowing your seed to sprout. Also, know that your time and and donations to the Ranch are a refreshing rain and helps us to yield a harvest of hope.
Founder and Executive Director
Please include this portion if donating via check.
City: ______________________ State: ____ Zip:_____________
I am designating my gift to benefit Bit of Hope Ranch.
Mail to: Community Foundation of Gaston County
PO Box 123
Gastonia, NC 28053
The Ranch is an official Program Partner of Girl Scouts. We provide horse education, leadership and STEM programs for Girl Scout troops. Leaders also can obtain some of their certifications at the Ranch facility. Contact us today to see what experiences we have planned for your troops.
Girl Scout Programs
Have a horse crazy kid? Looking for something for your group to do this summer? Check out our summer camp week for horse riders as well as other popular camps for groups.
Join us for our 2nd Annual Golf Tournament on May 22nd at Cramer Mountain Country Club. Proceeds from this event will directly impact the Ranch. You can help by signing up to sponsor a hole, donate raffle prizes and signing up a team to play.
Sign up online or contact the Gazette directly
It's Back...BlueJean Ball Sept 23rd
Grants Fund New
Therapist for Counseling
BITS AND PIECES
Save the Date: Saturday Sept 23rd
Join us for a dinner, music and a memorable program as we celebrate 10 years of sharing hope and healing. We are currently looking for sponsors for that special evening. Tickets will go on sale July 1st.
Contact us if you are interested in helping with this annual event.
Kristin Jaeger, LCAS has joined our team as a licensed counselor. She has over 20 years experience in mental health and specializes in traditional and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Her masters in Art Therapy also allows her to explore a variety of therapeutic approaches for her clients. The Community Foundation of Gaston County and the Nancy Markle Foundation have provided initial funding for Kristin's position. Meet her via video on our website or contact her directly.