RENO, Nevada (KOLO) – On horseback towards recovery.
“I love the outdoors and animals, so it’s a really good experience for me,” said Aysa Castro, member of the Empowerment Center.
For a select few women, Saturday was the occasion to ride horses once again. But for many, it was their first time.
“I stroked a horse but never really rode one, so it’s going to be a big rodeo for me,” said Tonaya Porter, another member of the Empowerment Center.
The women at the Empowerment Center ranch have had it tough. The center is a place where people struggling with drug addiction can get back on track.
“It’s a life-changing experience to get back on your feet, find a job, regroup, save money, buy a car and start over,” Porter said of of his experience at the center.
His friend Castro agrees.
“If I lived the life I lived before, I would never be able to experience (ride a horse).”
Cara Virden, Program Director for Reno Rescue, offers this life-changing opportunity to ride a horse. At her ranch, she and her staff take in abused animals to give them a purpose in life. Reno Rescue gives riding lessons for disadvantaged people and, with the help of the Reno Rodeo association, offers adapted riding thanks to donations of saddlery and ramps.
Giving people a chance is very important to Virden.
“It just gives me the opportunity to love people who may not feel very loved right now in their lives.”
As for the day itself, the women of the Empowerment Center were able to trot on horses and experience something positive. There is, however, a trade-off. These women clean the stalls and brush the horses in return.
The bond between a rider and a horse can change lives.
“It makes people feel really special – the horses love them,” Virden said. “(Horses) aren’t judgmental creatures at all, they forgive, and I think for people who come out of a place where they feel judgmental and are not loved … it’s like best combination? “
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