I was medically diagnosed with depression in 2016, and had been living with it for almost 10 years. Later, in early 2019, I was diagnosed with anxiety. I had been prescribed medication, I tried meeting with therapists, but still, I felt like there was no end to my mental health struggles. Even though my medication was helping, I still didn’t feel in control of my emotions. Therapy wasn't helping me because it wasn't training me to become a better version of myself in the strides I needed. In fact, I hated when therapists would give me “assignments." I felt like I didn’t know the purpose of it. I felt that they were forcing me to be someone I just couldn’t be. In the winter of 2021, I heard of Bridle Up Hope through a podcast I listened to frequently. Bridle Up Hope not only came as an answer to my mental health struggles, it came at a time in my life when I was experiencing heartache and extreme stress.
I had first visited the barn on my own. I took a tour and I fell in love. However, I wasn’t in a place where I could make a clear decision on my own. So I introduced Bridle Up Hope to my mother. At first, she was skeptical but when taking a tour alongside my dad, they felt something special and determined it would be the best thing for me. Moving forward with the decision wasn’t easy, but with Bridle Up Hope’s scholarship program and payment plan, I was able to join the Bridle Up Hope Family as a participant in the Women’s Experience. Riding horses has always been a dream for me. I grew up listening to my grandma tell stories of her and her sisters riding their horses after school from a young age up into adulthood. I craved to have that. Riding horses paired with the 7 Habits, service, and activities brought me new purpose.
I found relief in "Putting First Things First." I found passion and purpose again through creating a mission statement that fits who I am and what I believe. I found my voice in being proactive. Unfortunately, when I entered week 4 with our lesson focused on “Think Win-Win," my insecurities and anxieties found their way to me. By the end of the lesson, I just wanted to be done. I was so broken. I felt that all the choices I had been making or the relationships that had failed could have been prevented and that the connections I had with close friends couldn’t be mended. I felt I could never have a win-win. The following week while in the first portion of lesson 5, I fell apart. My sweet instructor, Marita, listened intently and sought first to understand. We ended the lesson early and she reassured me I could come back when I was ready to ride.
I returned the next week for the riding portion and had the beautiful opportunity to work with Chance. It was the most fulfilling lesson and he helped me feel loved, valued, and understood. We were a team. I received my "Win-Win" moment and connected deeply through "Seeking First to Understand." I will cherish that turning point forever.
I’m beyond grateful that my time at Bridle Up Hope doesn't end after the 7-week program. I love going back to the barn to serve, do yoga, and connect with the horses as well as the beautiful and strong women I get to be around. It has truly saved me in many ways. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. It’s bittersweet moving out of state soon, but I know that I’ll always have Bridle Up Hope waiting for me when I return.
- Bridle Up Hope Participant