Written by Amanda's Mother:
It’s with so much love and gratitude that I sit down to write this letter. When my daughter Amanda began at Bridle Up Hope over a year ago, I was tickled that she had been accepted and had a chance to work around animals. Since she was tiny, she has had a special relationship with just about every kind of animal, but her background is one that begins with a drug addicted mom, mental and emotional problems due to her birth mother’s drug abuse, domestic violence perpetrated by her birth father, foster care, and eventually adoption through the foster care system. That’s a rough start for one tiny girl.
Amanda has struggled with personal relationships her whole life. She is easily distracted, can behave inappropriately at times, and struggles with anxiety and depression. We also recently moved, which has been difficult for her to leave her one and only BFF in our previous neighborhood.
When she was accepted into the Bridle Up Hope program, I was elated and yet scared out of my wits. I wondered if she would behave, if she’d make friends, if she’d listen and learn to be safe around the animals. Would she be respectful and would they even be able to get her to work while she was there? For that very reason, I stayed with her each volunteer day. I warned Amanda that the time would come when they would probably ask me not to come to the girls’ volunteer hours, but for now, I would stay and help her while she learned the ropes.
We had a wonderful time working together and with the leaders and other girls. She watered and fed horses, she swept the breezeway. My goodness, she even learned to muck out the stalls and didn’t complain. Hello? Was this my daughter? She loved the barn cat and the dogs that the teachers brought with them. She truly felt at home there. We brought carrots and apples often and soon had favorites among the horses. Amanda's best friend turned out to be the horse Bahama. She’s such a tiny little thing, but even the bigger horses didn’t seem to intimidate her.
Once, when the barn manager appeared to be very sick with a cold, I suggested that we go get her a smoothie to help her feel a little better. Amanda was too embarrassed to give it her, but we both felt wonderful having helped that sweet girl. I was starting to see real progress in my little girl.
She had to learn patience. Soon bad weather was coming and she wasn’t able to ride, then the barn moved and it took weeks before the horses were acclimated. Her teacher was injured and she had to get used to a new teacher, which for Amanda has never been an easy thing to make changes. The dreaded day came when the program manager called and asked that I not accompany Amanda to the girls’ volunteer hours anymore. I was sad but we knew it would be coming. I enjoyed the girls but I also saw the value in Amanda learning to stand alone and on her own two feet.
When Amanda got home from school, I pulled her aside and spoke to her about the program manager’s phone call. Amanda didn’t even bat an eye, she was ready! When lessons started up again, she was elated. On the last lesson, she had already earned three free lessons from the amount of volunteer hours she had put in. During that entire winter, she only missed a week or two due to out-of-town trips. She came even when it was freezing, which amazed me. Sometimes when things are hard, she has trouble following through, but she knew the horses needed her, she wanted to see her friends, and she was ready to ride. Come summer though, she wasn’t able to get up so early. Go figure. You’d think she’d enjoy the nicer weather.
Amanda has loved her time at Bridle Up Hope. I loved my time there, and I love the person my little girl has become because of her association with Bridle Up Hope. Amanda is doing better and better every day and I look forward to her becoming a hardworking, independent adult. I am so sorry for the circumstances that sparked the idea for The Rachel Covey Foundation, but I am sure that I join many parents in thanking you for remembering Rachel through such a worthwhile endeavor. Rachel has become each girl’s angel, and I am positive that she is very proud of the foundation and what Bridle Up Hope accomplishes. With all my heart, I thank you and hope that should you need help, volunteers, etc. that you will call on our family.
(Names changed to protect privacy)