Since we have a lot of new readers, I thought I should reintroduce myself.
Welcome! I’m Laura, a mother of three, from Kennewick, Washington.
I was used to living a very active lifestyle, playing tennis, colorguard, gymnastics, theater, orchestra, choir, and more. But fourteen years ago, a combination of thyroid disease, PCOS, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, etc. caused rapid weight gain and morbid obesity.
Now, everyday tasks like grocery shopping or even showering are sometimes impossible. I’ve yearned to bring up my kids in the wonderful environment I grew up in, taming and rescuing feral cats and working with other animals, especially horses, but I haven’t had to ability or financial means to do so.
After moving to the California Bay Area from Utah, my husband told me about this wondrous place called Rush Ranch where there were horses I could interact with for free every day. I honestly didn’t believe him at first. It was too good to be true. It took me several open house wagon rides and six months to work up the courage to turn in a volunteer application to Access Adventure, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is located at Rush Ranch and helps people with disabilities and injured veterans experience working with or interacting with horses). Our lives have been forever changed. Access Adventure is run solely by volunteers. From caring for the horses and paperwork to events, their volunteers do it all!
Every Saturday morning, for over a year now, my twelve year old daughter, (who has ADHD and is nearly as horse crazy as I am) and I feed the horses their breakfast. My boys (ages ten and fourteen), both of which are on the autism spectrum, were skeptical at first, are coming to love these wonderful horses as well. I cried the day my son (who was absolutely terrified or horses) willingly pet one of them. “They’re kind of like big dogs,” he told me.
This place is my sanctuary. I walk the grounds, sit beside the pastures, listen to the wind in the grass, sing to the horses and find peace. My family says there’s an obvious difference between days I’ve visited the horses. Depression and anxiety are easier to manage, and I have more energy. As Mike Muir, director of Access Adventure, says so often, “This is a healing place.”
There’s a visible change in my daughter as well. We’ve grown closer as mother and daughter as we’ve shared this time together. She confidently instructs her brothers with feeding and acts as an unofficial Rush Ranch tour guide, telling complete strangers all about Access Adventure and their wonderful horses.
Being physically limited, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to enjoy riding again. Access Adventure’s therapeutic driving program has been a game changer. Mike is such a patient teacher, even with my slow processing speed (post-concussive syndrome from a car accident January 2018), he never loses his temper as he calmly gives instructions.
This program is helping restore my self-confidence and get me back on my feet, both literally and metaphorically. It’s counterintuitive, really. The more time and energy I spend with the horses, the more I have to give at home. It doesn’t work that way with anything else. They’re helping push myself and grow in ways that didn’t seem possible.
Two of my proudest moments were driving a wagon so some of my family members could enjoy the experience with me and watching my daughter, who can’t even clean her room without help, learn driving faster and even better than myself!
We've even gotten to help socialize new foals and even greeted the newest foal last week, minutes after his birth!
(The video above is of my daughter and two of Access Adventure's Stonewall Sporthorses, Minuet and her foal last year, Montezuma,)
I started doing a video series around Christmas called Singing Away Depression (Maybe). Since music always helps my mood, I thought maybe I could share that with others. This video above is when I was having a really bad day. In the video below, I introduce you to some of my favorite horses!
Depression and anxiety are a constant in my life. Some days are better than others, but days that I spend at Rush Ranch (especially with Access Adventure's horses) are always better. Whether it's snuggling, petting, or grooming the horses, driving carriages, playing with new foals, or just sitting out in nature, this place heals my soul.
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I'm a single mom with 3 special needs children, living in Orem, Utah, overcoming mental illness and crazy health problems to pull my family out of poverty and live my dreams as an author.
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Medical information is based on my own beliefs and experience. Nothing on this site should be used instead of professional medical advice.
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