HopeWell Ranch, an equine therapy ranch located near Weidman, Michigan, is appropriately named. Those who participate in their programs are shown, mostly through their horse “counselors”, love, acceptance, and, of course, hope.
Hopewell Ranch was founded in 2004 by Ty and Jodi Stuber. While healing, both emotionally and physically from the in-utero death of their daughter Hope, Jodi read the book Hope Rising by Kim Meeder. In the book Ms. Meeder shares her experiences as founder of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon, which pairs rescued horses with special needs and at risk youth. Ty and Jodi realized that this was God’s plan from them, and this was to be their calling.
At the ranch, children and teens with mental and emotional challenges are paired with a staff member and one of the horses. As they progress through learning how to groom, tack, and ride horses, participants gain self-acceptance, self-confidence and responsibility. Children who have been bullied or abused learn trust and acceptance; horses do not hold grudges or judge. The ranch is also home to goats, rabbits, miniature horses, a donkey, ducks, peacocks, cats, dogs, and chickens.
Currently, the therapeutic riding program is only available during the summer months, but a fundraising project is underway to make it possible to purchase an indoor riding arena. HopeWell Ranch is a non-profit organization and operates through the help of volunteers and donations. Their largest fundraiser, the Cowboy Ball, is held every October on the campus of Central Michigan University, but donations are accepted year round. ~Paula Ruter, Contributing Writer
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