Welcome to the year 2019, everyone. For Kids & Horses, 2018 was a successful year. We worked with several clients; gained new program horses and volunteers; and had a few grand fundraisers and parties. Four of our sweet program horses retired this year. Pepper, Missy, Barney, and Tank all worked very hard for our program, and we can’t thank them enough. In October, everyone at Kids & Horses had the opportunity to nominate his or her favorite volunteer and horse for our 2018 “Of the Year” awards.  We are pleased to announce that Phyllis was chosen as our Volunteer of the Year and Dealer as our Horse of the Year. Both Phyllis and Dealer are a huge blessing to our program, and, of course, we cannot forget the rest of our volunteers and program horses. Kids & Horses would not be possible without them all. Be sure to thank our volunteers and horses often as they work hard to keep our program alive.
          The year 2019 is a very special year for our program. As some of you may have already heard, it’s Kids & Horses’ 20th Anniversary! We know for a fact that there is no way that we could have done it without all of the donors, staff, volunteers, and horses that have been a part of our program in the past twenty years. We have big goals for 2019 that we are hoping to accomplish,including: becoming more involved in our community; working on our sensory trail; improving our facility; growing the numbers of our students and horses; and adding new programs to what we currently offer. Our end of the year mail-out included a summary of each of the programs that the Kids & Horses team leaders are hoping to implement. One of these programs is the Comprehensive Life Skills (CLS) classes which we will talk about below. To fulfill these goals for 2019, we are counting on the support of our students and their families, staff, volunteers, and donors. We can’t do it without all of you!
          Toward the end of last year, we began working with a couple of schools and programs with our CLS classes. These teenagers and young adults, who are learning life skills, are able to come out to the ranch to work, groom, do groundwork, and ride. Many of these students are getting their first opportunity to go near a horse. Madi, a helpful volunteer, recalls how one particular student “wouldn’t even touch a horse.  He watched, and took part in other activities, but would have nothing to do with the horses.  On his second or third visit, even though he still felt unsure, he chose to get up and ride!  He lit up like a Christmas tree.  His face radiated a feeling of accomplishment, of victory.”   The smiles and laughter that happen during the time these students are at the ranch say it all. Most days, the group of Kids & Horses staff and volunteers that help with these classes often leave just as happy as the students are. While working with the students, our Business Manager, Barb observed that it seemed to “empower them.” She also added, “It was just what I needed to help me move past a rut I was in over more personal issues.” Kim, another amazing volunteer, agreed by saying that the students “are so grateful and excited with anything and everything we do. They are a joy to work with and an inspiration to me. I’m thankful to be a part of that class.” They not only learn to ride but learn how to care for a horse which helps teach responsibility. Whether the sun is shining or the air is freezing cold, they pitch in to help with whatever tasks are asked of them.  Helping young people with special needs learn important life skills through our CLS classes is just one of the many areas that we are looking to grow in the community that our program reaches. All pictures that are included highlight students from our CLS classes.  
          We hope that you are enjoying 2019 so far. Again, thank you for your belief in the mission of Kids & Horses. Your love and support mean the world to our program. We wish you the best!