Animals instinctively help us through some of the most difficult times that life throws our way.
That help and healing goes both ways between people and animals at a Bentonville ranch.
Meteorologist Sean Bailey took us to Autumn’s ReRide Youth Ranch for an Adventure Arkansas that changes lives.
Since 2009, Rebecca Christians has been recruiting horses to help children going through life’s difficult curveballs, who founded the ranch in memory of her daughter, Autumn.
"They all have a purpose whether they’re ridden or not," Christians said. "A lot of times it has nothing to do with the ride. It has everything to do with the relationship and the bond, and that’s where the healing comes in."
The understanding nature of the animals helps children through many different struggles -- and they do this all for free. The ranch is able to provide these services an sessions for free because of generous donations from the community. They will hold a spaghetti dinner and silent auction on July 30 at the Bentonville Church of the Nazarene at 5 p.m.
Lori Deluca, who has been attending the ranch for a year, said she sees the relationship between the animals and her children continue to blossom.
"They sometimes have a hard time connecting with people, but they can bond with animals because animals love unconditionally," Deluca said. "Animals are so different than people; they are less complicated. They’re always able to bond with them so I just see this whole other side of my child that comes out just bonding with the animals."
That’s true for Kimberly Hodoway’s daughter Shiloh as well, who has been coming to the ranch for three years.
"She always tends to pick out the biggest horse they have," Hodoway said. "So when she was 5, she was riding Shiloh…her name is Shiloh and they also have a horse named Shiloh so there was this natural connection there. But Shiloh happened to be this giant horse. So it’s just been really fun to see her be confident enough to ride and connect with an animal that size."
Witnessing this relationship also inspires the volunteers.
"A lot of their worries go away if they’re going through a traumatic time in their life or have a special disease or something like that," said Mikenley, who has been volunteering at the ranch for three years. "They can put it behind them and do whatever they want to do when they want to do it. So we will go play with chickens or ride horses or paint horses and it's really fun."
"I think my favorite part is getting to enjoy helping kids and letting them have experience with horses," said Even, who volunteered for the summer.
"It’s a very unique place," Deluca said. "This is really a place that I can honestly say I dreamed about for my children, because I knew of their connection to animals was so strong. I dreamed that they would have a place like this, and I can honestly say my dream came true."
A horse named Freedom gave Sean Bailey the grand tour of Autumn’s ReRide Youth Ranch.
Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru