Life Lessons from the Barn

What can horses teach us about life? A lot, actually. Just ask the boys and girls at Eagle Ranch – a Christ-centered nonprofit in Flowery Branch dedicated to healing children in crisis and their families.

For many years the ranch has had a therapeutic horse program. As the kids spend time with the horses, they also learn life lessons. Lessons like when the girls from the ranch’s Blessing home were tasked with lining up their horses and walking beside them around the arena. There were tools they could use, but no instructions.

The exercise enabled the girls’ houseparents and equine program manager to observe how the girls worked as individuals and as a team. It also was a challenge to see if the girls would identify the right tools and methods to help successfully complete the task.

Aden, a 6th grader, who was new, started giving her peers orders. In the meantime, Jillian, a 9th grader who had been in the program, quietly grabbed a pool a noodle and used it to gently guide her horse beside her.

Seeing Jillian’s success, all of the girls – even Aden – picked up pool noodles and followed suit. Soon, the girls had accomplished the task.

“We related the experience directly to the girls’ lives,” said Amanda Phelps, housemom in the Blessing Home. “The girls learned that using a simple tool such as a pool noodle served as a guideline for their horse, giving the horse boundaries and direction. That helped shift the discussion of how boundaries and direction can help the girls’ navigate their lives more easily.”

Some of the most significant learning opportunities are not through direct discussion, but through experiences. Having the children living at the Ranch enables life’s daily occurrences to become teachable moments, addressing struggles and emotions as they are experienced.

“One of our core values is continual innovation,” said founder Eddie Staub. “It’s exciting to be part of a staff that is willing to grow and find new opportunities to serve our boys and girls.”

As proof of that innovative spirit, the ranch is raising funds to develop a girls’ wellness and activity center. The center will provide space for girls to interact through physical and creative activities such as dance, aerobics and much more.

The ranch is also a nonprofit fundholder at the Community Foundation.

“Over the years, the Community Foundation has provided numerous opportunities for us to engage, from workshops that help strengthen the skills of our staff to gatherings where we connect with people who want to get more involved with our mission,” Eddie said.

Interested in learning about how your nonprofit can become a fundholder at the Community Foundation? Contact Randy Redner at 770-813-3384 or rredner@cfneg.org.

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