This story is completely fictional, but the events in it are very real to many people in real life.
Horses. What could they do? They're just animals. They're nothing special, really.
These thoughts ran through 17 year old Audrey Mason's head. Her foster parents insisted bringing her to Second Hope Ranch, where they offered therapeutic riding sessions. Audrey reluctantly agreed. "What can a horse do?" Audrey tried to think of options. Well, she could ride them. But what would that do? She could take care of them. But how would that change her past?
Audrey was an orphan. She admitted it to herself about 8 times a day, she counted. But the shaking memory of her mother leaving when she was 9 and her father dying 2 years, her wound was still open and needed healing.
What could a horse do?
"Audrey, honey, we're here." Audrey foster mother, Leah, said gently. It was clear that this woman cared deeply about this hurt young woman. She had gotten to the point where she felt God pressing her to bring Audrey to Second Hope Ranch.
Audrey read the sign. Second Hope Ranch. Where healing begins. Audrey sighed inside and got out of the car. She and Leah walked up to the office where they found a young woman, about in her 30's. She had dark brown hair and black glasses. The woman glanced up when they entered and smiled.
"Welcome to Second Hope Ranch. How can I help you two?" Audrey noticed her name tag that read, "Eve Price."
"Hello Miss Price, I'm here with my daughter, Audrey. We talked about getting her acquainted with one of the horses?" Leah responded.
"Yes! I remember you. Hello, Audrey. It's nice meeting you." Eve smiled. "I'll be heading her session, today at least. Would you please come with me, Audrey? Miss Clayton, Amanda should be here in a minute to meet with you, if you don't mind waiting." Leah assured her it was all right and gave Audrey a hug before she left.
As they were walking to the barn, Eve started up conversation. "So, Audrey, have you ever ridden a horse before?"
Audrey shrugged. "In a fair, I guess."
Eve smiled. "Well, today I'm going to introduce you to Chance. He's a rescue horse, which is why we named him that. We gave him a second chance here, just as we want to give people like you." Audrey didn't reply. The two entered the barn and were greeted by stable hands and whinnies.
"Hello, Miss Price. Who would you like?" A teen walked up and asked.
"We'll take Chance, thank you, Blake." Eve replied. Then she turned to Audrey. "Blake is a volunteer here at Second Hope Ranch. We have a lot of young people here, actually. You'll see a few around doing barn chores and such." Eve's comment made Audrey inwardly cringe. "Great, now people will see me as a pathetic girl who needs a horse for her mental health. Just superb." Audrey thought to herself.
Eve and Audrey walked out to the pasture behind Blake, who was leading Chance. Once they got in and closed the gate, Blake walked back to the barn.
"Chance is a bay Thoroughbred. He was originally bred for racing, but was sold to someone who couldn't take care of him. He came to us with an infection and was very malnourished. After lots of care, he's turned out for the good." Eve said.
Audrey looked at him gleaming coat. The horse stood at 15.5 hands high, tall and proud. Audrey did admit to herself that he was a very handsome horse, and was glad she didn't get a stubborn little pony. She stroked him face very gently as a greeting. The horse sniffed her hand and looked away. Hmph.
Eve laughed. "He does have some attitude, I will admit. But he also is very loving and will stand with you until the end. The most loyal horse I've ever met!"
Audrey stroked him some more as the two stood in silence. "He's so trusting." She commented softly. Eve smiled in agreement.
"I mean, maybe this won't be so bad." Audrey thought later as she was grooming Chance. "Horses are pretty nice. Nobody from school is here, anyway, so why should I care who sees me?"
After an hour and a half had gone by, it was time to leave. Audrey led Chance to the barn and handed the lead rope to Blake.
"Chance really likes you." Blake commented as he grabbed the lead rope.
"Really?" Audrey asked and looked as the proud horse standing next to her.
Blake nodded. "Your name is Audrey, right?" Audrey replied with a nod. "Well, looks like you're Chance's new favorite. I hope you like Second Hope Ranch; it's a great place." Blake said before leading Chance away.
"Yes. I think I like horses. If it's Chance, anyway." Audrey thought as she drove off with her mother. "I'll be back."