Monday, March 11, 2013

Inspiration Ranch

Offering Hope. Renewing Lives. Inspiring Change.


The last few months have provided me the opportunity to shoot images for a very special place here in my home town.  Panther Creek Inspiration Ranch is "a non-profit, minimal fee, equine assisted therapy ranch. They offer exceptional equine programs in a loving Christian environment to children, individuals and families. Using horses to assist people with physical, mental and emotional challenges providing unparalleled therapy results."

 This amazing place agreed to allow me to photograph their horses...which I can tell you was a true delight.  Soon, they will launch a newly designed website which will include my equine shots.  (Eeeek, how cool is that??)  It was my desire to capture what makes each horse beautiful and uniquely perfect for this program....wowza, I had a blast trying to make that happen.  I also got to shoot a few client sessions, and marveled at the work being done for those in need.

Why Horses for Therapy?

"Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. The size and power of the horse are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life. Horses mirror moods, too; they respond negatively to negative emotions, teaching the client that his behavior can affect others, and making it necessary to modify behavior in order to work successfully with the animal."

 They have a very diverse herd of horses who work in the program, matched individually to suit each person who comes for therapy!  Let me introduce you to a few!! 








While the benefits to their clients are powerful and undeniable....I think you should also know that the program is beneficial to the horses as well.  Let me share with you one horse story, that proves this to be true.

Gracie is the gorgeous paint horse in the last image above. 
You can see her pale brown paint spots, classic paint horse blue eye, and stunning natural 'eye-liner'.  She is a beauty for certain.  

What you can't see in that image though, is her story, which is told in more detail when you see the other side of her face.

Gracie found her way to a Galveston horse rescue shelter in October of 2012.  Her owners could not afford the surgery she needed to remove a cancerous tumor from behind her eye.  The rescue took her in, had the surgery done and assumed she would be there with them for the remainder of her life.
You see, the surgery took the cancer, but it also took the eye as well.   Now, if that wasn't bad enough, the tumor pressing on the nerve also left her with fairly severe nerve damage to that side of her face causing her lip to droop and her mouth to gape open. She was no longer a classic beauty, but a less than perfect horse with a history literally written on her face.

The workers at Inspiration Ranch met her just weeks after her surgery as she stood alone in a pasture still wearing the bandages from her surgery.  They looked right past that imperfection and saw her just as they see their clients...full to the brim of potential....strong and able to succeed with help and belief in what can be, not simply what seems to be.

Her imperfection, and her strength make her a perfect horse for this program.  She knows what it is to be less than whole.  She knows what it is to struggle with a disability.  She knows that she still has so much to offer in spite of that....WOW, she has so very much that she can teach those who will choose to listen.  Just being around her inspired me so very much. 
She is highly admired by the staff as well....
"She is a dedicated worker, very willing and smart, clearly having been well trained to do a job and quite responsive to the patients chosen to pair with her."

I have a friend who is an amazing equine photographer, who often creates fine artwork paintings from her images.  I commissioned her to create an image from a shot I took of Gracie.  When she heard what wonderful work is being done at Inspiration Ranch, she graciously donated her work toward this project.  We both wanted a fine art portrait of "the story side" of Gracie's image to encourage others to give their all, despite what their disabilities might be.

  The corner decorations say "Love Unconditionally", is that perfect or what?? 
Thank you so much Kimberly of Chason Photos for your beautiful work!!!
You will want to find her on Facebook too...her work is a daily dose of beauty in your world.

Inspiration Ranch is always in need of volunteers, maybe it is a place that you could spend some hours....I bet you would end up getting far more than you gave; that's just the kind of place it is.

Hey, while you are there...give this fella a rub on the head, he likes that!!! 

 Smokey (The Barn Cat!)

 Blessings to you,