Sara came to Circle of Hope four years ago in an attempt to rekindle her love for riding after an unexplainable 18-month dry spell. We don't know what caused it, but she just wasn't able to "get on" anymore. That being said, Lesley and the Circle of Hope staff took great strides in helping Sara, and others like her, get back up into the saddle. For example, mounting blocks are now standard as they take the struggle out of climbing in and out of the horse. This may seem like a simple tool but these literal stepping blocks also help build lower body strength and maybe most importantly, self-confidence. Sara is now able to ride with ease and enjoyment without the stress of mounting and dismounting to worry her.

Sara's success story continues with her ability to do things she never used to (or wouldn't do) before such as trotting. In fact, Sara has gotten so good at it that she working hard to perform at the Montgomery County Fair for the third year in a row!

But Sara's success is also about the victories and dedication of the Circle of Hope staff. Lesley never gave up on Sara's ability to ride. Everyone at Circle of Hope-from the instructors to the volunteers to the other families-is extremely supportive, both during and after sessions. Another strength of Circle of Hope is that they really take the time and energy to focus on each individual rider and their particular needs.

I know that Sara enjoys riding because any sort of cancellation simply ruins her day. Not only that, but Sara just isn't a rider, she comes in on Sunday mornings as a volunteer. Both opportunities allow her the chance to develop and practice her social skills, which aren't so bad if I do say so myself. Plus, she simply LOVES Papa!

Circle of Hope isn't just about riding horses. It's about learning, growing, and developing relationships with the people, animals, and environment that truly makes this a magical place.