Hope Happens With a Horse

Jul 21 2010


Barbara – Grandmother raising 3 kids under 10.

“Until I met you, I’d never known much about horse therapy and how it works, but I’m here to tell you, it worked on me!  I’m soooo relaxed that even the crying babies didn’t bother me today.  I see quite a difference in my personality and can only chalk it up to the opportunities you gave me!  With 4 young children, I really needed to relax.
I still feel relaxed and calm.  Yes, I’ll be spending more time at Latta getting my “fix.”  Thank you, thank you, thank you”


“Salutations! I am Sam P., I am 8 years old, and I ride Natalie at Hope Happens with A Horse. When I ride Natalie I feel happy. Before I couldn’t trot, and now I can. I used to be afraid to go on the lunge line, and now I feel safe doing it. Riding Natalie helps me feel calm. I love Natalie because she’s sweet, and she’s considerate and caring,When I go to my lessons, I help Ms. Michele brush Natalie and Lady, muck out the stalls, and feed the horses.When I go to my lessons, I like seeing all of the horses. I love horses because they are cool. They can be considerate, they help each other, and they take care of you.Ms. Michele has really helped me progress. She encourages me, and she has horses.I would like you to help Ms. Michele, because Hope Happens means a lot to me, and it has changed my life.”

Daniel and Lisa

“We are writing to express our appreciation for our experience with Michelle Kelly and Hope Happens with a Horse. We first took our daughter Samantha there last summer to participate in the one-week horse camp. She loved it so much that we went back twice more that summer, and then began to take Sam to the stables for regular riding lessons, which we are continuing to do.Sam is eight years old, a very bright, sweet girl who loves animals. For the last several years, we have been working through some emotional and behavioral challenges with Sam. Some of these have gone well beyond the the usual childhood phases in terms of their impact on Sam, her peers, and our family. At times, these challenges have inhibited Sam’s confidence and self-esteem. We took up riding lessons to give Sam an outlet for her love of animals, and in the hope that lessons would ameliorate some of these challenges.When Sam began working with Michele and her horses, she was enthusiastic but cautious. She was nervous about falling off, and initially she even ran away when Michele suggested that she hold Lady (one of the smaller horses) on a lead.Over time, however, we have watched with great pride and pleasure as Sam has made tremendous progress. She has become more and more comfortable on a horse, learning to use loving control to work with her mount. One day a few months ago, Michele stepped out of the corral for a moment to get something. The next thing we knew, Sam had decided to lead Natalie – a full-grown Thoroughbred – around the ring on the lead rope, all by herself. It was an amazing step forward for a girl who had run away from a smaller horse only a few months before. Now she is working on trotting, and a few weeks ago she declared that she had overcome her fear of trotting on the longe line. Riding lessons for Sam have become a continual exercise in bonding with the horses and making steady progress in confidence and self-esteem. Her sense of accomplishment is tangible, and as parents it has been a true gift to us to see her develop.It is sometimes said that the horse itself is a wonderful teacher, and that is certainly true in the case of Sam and her regular horse, Natalie. Natalie has become Sam’s “best friend” (as Sam calls her), and they clearly look forward to seeing each other on our trips to the stable. When we learned that Natalie was sired by Spectacular Bid, Sam went online to read about him, and we watched some of his racing videos with a sense of pride for Natalie’s heritage and Sam’s association with the bloodline. It is truly wondrous to see a child learn to love and to manage a half-ton racehorse.But in speaking of teachers, we also need to give credit to Michele. She has been amazingly patient with Sam. For the first few months, she and Sam did little but walk around the ring on a lead rope, but the whole time, Michele clearly had a sense of what Sam needed and a plan to bring her along in her horsemanship. Michele also has a real gift for gentle motivation. She knows when to push Sam to try something new or to solve a problem on her own, and she also knows when to wait patiently for Sam to take some next step. Sam has repeatedly told us how much she loves Michele, and that is high praise from a girl who is known for her blunt honesty about her feelings toward people.We should also mention the impact of Hope Happens on the rest of our family. Daniel is another animal lover who grew up in the country, though not around horses. He regularly takes Sam to her weekend lessons, where he has learned to groom and tack the horses. While Sam is riding, he has taken to doing some light maintenance and mucking stalls, which he says makes him feel at home. His favorite thing, however, is to socialize with the horses, brushing them, watering them, and just standing in the paddock bonding with them. First Molly, then Jersey, have become his special friends, and Daniel regularly brings home tales of them “grooming” him while he brushes their coats or scratches them on their favorite spots. Daniel has a demanding job as a law professor and a full-time administrator at the Charlotte School of Law, and the running joke (which is actually the truth) is that Sam’s lessons are as therapeutic for him as they are for Sam. At other times, Lisa brings our 3-year-old, Joshua, and waits with him during Sam’s lessons. Josh is becoming gradually more comfortable with the horses, but in the meantime he has taken strongly to Dixie, Michele’s yellow Lab, and it is a joy to hear him laughing and giggling as he plays fetch with her.All in all, we have had nothing but good experiences with Michele and Hope Happens, and it has become an important part of our lives. If you are in a position to benefit or assist the organization, we hope that this letter will help you to realize the profound impact that you will have on our family and on other families who benefit from this enterprise.”


“The purpose of this letter is to tell you thatyou have been instrumental in assisting me in getting me back on track and back in the saddle again through Hope Happens with a Horse. As you know, I broke my ankle just a little over a year ago and I wanted to start riding again, but have been very hesitant, due to the nature of my injuries. Additionally, riding has become even more of a challenge for me because of Fibromyalgia. With this being said, I have to take things in moderation and start out slowly. You understood this. You suggested that I bring my horse to your facility where Julia, your daughter, and you could work with Jetta (my horse) to get her back into condition and perform some basic ground work as well as riding her. After a couple of weeks with daily workouts with Jetta 1 came back to your facility where we worked together with Jetta. Your support and encouragement is what I really needed. I got back up on Jetta and rode her around your facility. Getting up on my horse (Jetta) for the first time in over a year meant a lot to me and you were there right by my side. 1 never had any fear of horses or riding in the past, but after all, I am now 63 years old and know my limitations and can’t afford to have any other accidents. Because of your willingness and encouragement, I feel that I can ride for at least another 10 years. Your patience and knowledge of horses is impeccable and I want to thank you for getting me back into the saddle again. I have contemplated selling Jetta and my horse trailer, but not now, because I haven’t given up – thanks to you. I’m riding Jetta around our place and haven’t ventured out just yet. I need to work with her more on loading and unloading from my horse trailer. She’s doing better and hopefully we will be able to meet up at Smith Lake and ride together again.”


“HHWAH is a magical place for me. Every time I’m with the horses its as if, just for a short time, I don’t have cancer. I can leave my “To do” list and calendar of appointments at home while I relax in a beautiful country setting. I enjoy the beauty of the horses and allow them to transport me to another place where cancer doesn’t exist.”