Where girls and horses come for stability & healing
At a certain age, girls seem to develop an affection for horses. And given the chance, it’s likely that horses return the love.By Heather Vaughan
For the past seven years, a riding school in Wake County has brought together girls who need affection and confidence with horses who need the same. In Cary, CORRAL is a place where at-risk girls and rescued horses come to heal.
Joy Currey felt led by God in 2008 to use her professional training in education and equine therapy to do something different: to change lives. Today, Joy Currey’s dream is touching almost 70 kids annually. Females between ages 11 and 18 come from all over Wake County to participate. The girls experience CORRAL as a safe place where they learn to overcome abuse, academic failure, suicidal thoughts, teen pregnancy, as well as drug and alcohol dependency. CORRAL provides mentoring, therapy, tutoring, vocational training and, of course, horseback riding.
“CORRAL made me feel like I have a purpose,” said one of the girls.
And a girl’s mother said, “I thank God and CORRAL for helping me find my baby again, for helping her find her voice and for showing her a different way of going about things. Her path is a lot brighter and she’s beginning anew. I can’t do it alone, and I am asking for your continued help to give her a better way.”
Learning from horses
The teaching at CORRAL helps point students in the right direction by helping them gain confidence and learn responsibility, leadership, communication and problem-solving skills. Plus they pick up compassion, dedication and teamwork abilities by working directly with the animals. The students carry out farm chores necessary to keep the place and animals working successfully. Weekly, each girl puts in a minimum of 15 hours, so basically the farm is always open, always serving as a place of refuge.
The girls aren’t the only ones feeling the impact of CORRAL. The four-legged students also are in a better state. Several rescue organizations pair horses with the non-profit CORRAL program. Each horse at the farm has suffered some kind of physical or emotional trauma which takes time and tenderness to work through. As girls observe this process, they become encouraged by their equine partners to move forward successfully themselves. Horses are social animals with unique personalities. While they don’t judge the girls, the horses definitely push them to overcome fear, grow courage, develop patience and manage anger.
Because its farm property is on the real estate market, CORRAL has considered moving to a different location with a cheaper price tag, but Joy Currey feels if CORRAL moves it will lose its support. Over the years, the program has built a large volunteer and instructor base, which a change in location could greatly diminish. Also, Joy believes the nonprofit must stay put for the students. The academy is located near Raleigh’s epicenter, making it accessible to girls from all parts of the county. A move could discourage or limit participants due to distance. Relocating could tear apart the sense of community developed among the girls themselves. It’s like a home to some of these girls.
“I have a place where I belong,” said one of them. “It’s here that I have a family I can count on. I feel loved and accepted and I didn’t realize until today that, inside myself, I deserve to live.”
The future of CORRAL is in doubt
The property where this non-profit program operates is up for sale. To continue its work for girls and horses, CORRAL must raise $1 million by the end of this year.
If you’re interested in helping, you can donate or participate in the “Forever Home” campaign. Other ways you can help include prayer, horse sponsorship, donating riding supplies, and volunteering. Usually every two months there is a farm work day when people can participate as a group or as individuals. During those hours visitors may tour the farm and learn more about the program. Farm work days are for people ages 7 and up. If you’re interested in working beyond routine maintenance, you must be over 18. Those who work directly with students must be a high school graduate or over 20.