Adam was not a typical young boy before his visit to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon (a horse ranch that pairs horses who have been abused with children, many of whom have also been abused, for therapy). He was small for his age, withdrawn, and he avoided the other children at the ranch where his caseworker had brought him to just be able to pet a horse, to give him something to smile about. When he smiled, which he rarely did before his visit to the ranch, his mouth displayed a number of broken teeth, teeth that had been broken, according to his casworker, by his father. His caseworker also told Kim Meeder, who along with husband, Troy, owns the ranch, that his father had made a game out of making his son run throughout their yard while he shot at him.
When Kim Meeder asked if he had ever taken a ride on a horse, Adam shook his head no, as he continued to look at the ground, according to a report on the Focus on the Family Radio show at http://www.focusonthefamily.com. His head snapped up and he looked at Kim when she told him the ranch had a special pony who wanted to meet him and give him a ride. It was only then that he grinned, displaying his broken teeth. After Kim Meeder talked with Adam more about the matter, he ran to meet “his” pony.
After the pony met Adam he did something that Kim Meeder said she has never seen a horse at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch do before or since– even though the horses seem to love the children and providing therapy–used his head to press Adam into his body, and the boy could only move his eyes. The young boy was terrified until he asked what the pony was doing, and Kim said he was giving the boy a hug and that Adam must be very special because she had never seen the pony give anyone a hug. Adam used his arm to give the pony a hug and repeated several times, “he likes me, he likes me, he likes me.”
The story about Adam is not unique. Kim Meeder said the Crystal Peaks Ranch, which is the only ranch in the United States that pairs horses that have been abused with children who have been abused for healing and therapy–and does not charge the children or their parents, has seen many children experience emotional healing at the ranch. She has written two books about the ranch which serves 4,000 to 5,000 children annually at the nine acre ranch. The ranch has many volunteers. Although there is no charge to the children or their parents, Crystal Peaks Ranch has a paid staff of ten and does accept donations. Meeder’s books are Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope: Stories of Triumph from the Ranch of Rescued Dreams.
Kim Meeder has loved horses since she was a nine-year-old who went to live with her grandmother after Kim’s father killed her mother and himself while the couple was in the process of a divorce. After screaming, “Jesus, help me,” she has also loved her Savior since that time as well. It was her grandmother who purchased a horse that Kim said was the “ugliest horse in the world,” but that Kim loved deeply and ran to every day after school. The horse helped heal her broken heart.
After Kim and Troy were married they bought the only piece of ground they could afford–land with a beautiful view but with many problems. Because Troy was a landscaper, however, he was able to bring home trees that were the wrong shape and burned trees that nobody wanted and still make the farm look beautiful.
The couple rescued their first two horses in 1995 from a life of beatings. Troy served as a youth pastor, and when Troy and Kim Meeder saw how the horses affected the children, they decided to open the ranch. Kim says 85% of the horses the ranch uses have been abused–and at least that high a percentage of the children who come to the ranch have too–although the ranch is open to any children, not just the abused and neglected.
According to the official website of the ranch, http://www.crystalpeaksyouthranch.org, the program traditionally uses 25-30 horses. The horses are paired individually with one child and one leader for a 90 minute lesson. That way each child receives individual attention. Troy and Kim hope the children will learn about trust, faith, life, and family.
Crystal Peaks Ranch has no law enforcement powers and cannot confiscate horses who have been abused to help provide the therapy. It has to purchase them from their owners, who rarely give them away for free, even though the Meeders have seen them abusing them. They have purchased over 300 horses for their ministry. The ministry is also paired with the local Bend LaPine School district, and private schools are also involved–although people also come from a long way outside of Oregon.
Kim Meeder said the horses at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch seem to have a love for the children at the ranch, and the children love the horses. It almost seems like each child considers the pony he rides “his” or “her” horse, and each horse considers the child “his.” According to a story in Hope Rising the love also goes from the owners to the horses and even from horse to horse.
According to the story, when one horse, Quincy, had colic, a stall was converted into a hospital room for the horse, with hooks to hold the bags of intravenous fluids the horse needed. Each morning before the horse got better, the other horses waited before they ate not at the spot where their food was to be given but around Quincy’s stall.
Citations: Rescue the Equine, Mentor the Child, Hope for the Family, Empower the Ministry, No author listed, Crystalpeaksyouthranch.org
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, No author listed, Listen.family.org
Hope Rising, Kim Meeder, Multnomah Publishers