About Our Program
The Heart of MSR - Helping Hurting Children and Their Families:
MSR serves children between the ages of 6 and 18. Most of the children that participate in the program are hurting in some way. To MSR, the word "hurting" takes on many shapes and forms: mentally, physically, emotionally, and functionally. This hurting is sometimes the result of abuse and/or neglect, while other times it is not. A much smaller percentage of the children we work with simply don't have access to horses through any other means. It has been the experience of MSR's founders that as "healthy" children play and grow beside "broken" ones, they are both encouraged to have a greater appreciation and understanding of others. It also brings hope to the spirit of wounded children to believe they too can have the same hope for the future.
Our horses are paired with one leader and one child for a 90 minute session. These sessions are flexible, allowing that time to best serve the unique needs of the individual child. The first 30 minutes consists of completing a ranch chore, since we believe that one of the ways God designed dignity to be found is through work. The remaining hour is the primary ranch activity for the day. Instead of being lost in a group, each child is nurtured by a leader who shares in his or her individual tears and victories. All of this is done free of charge.
There may be times when the children will not ride during their session. According to the MSR staff member's discretion or the child’s wishes, they may take part in any number of alternate activities during their session, including additional ranch chores, crafts, games, etc. MSR aims to offer mentorship, ranch-style activities, healthy friendships, and knowledge in horse husbandry to youth in our community. The riding lessons are a conduit towards these goals. Although we aspire to help these children become safe riders who understand and care for horses, our main goal is not to produce “accomplished” riders.
Our season runs from April through October each year, and sessions are scheduled in two month blocks. Session blocks begin every April, June, and August, with October reserved for special events such as our end of season Ranch Family BBQ. Most children are scheduled for sessions once every two weeks, meaning they will usually have four sessions within each two month block. Sessions are held at the Skiles Ranch in Modesto, CA, Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 9:00am to 6:00pm.
Another part of MSR's focus is to bring families together. Because of this principle we ask that parents accompany their children to each session. A parent's presence is quite often central to a child's healing process. The impact of a parent cheering their child to victory is very apparent to us. Allowing fathers, mothers and guardians a chance to rest in the shade and enjoy the beauty God has provided is also a part of what we do.
It is our hope that through this hands-on experience, children will learn the values of life, family, faith, and trust. Our only true prerequisite for children visiting the ranch is that they WANT to. A desire to come is an indication of a heart willing to try. It is from this willingness that broken hearts and lives can be healed. Within this generation of broken and blended households, MSR is working hard to become what every child and adult desires most, a family.
While MSR has previously been involved in the rescue of horses, and has a desire to actively participate in these activities again someday, we currently do not have a facility that will allow us to do so. Once we are able to conduct rescues again, we envision that some of the horses that come to the ranch will be from environments where they have been violently abused or are suffering from life threatening neglect. These extraordinary horses, will no doubt have their own stories of triumph and hope and will surely be rescued through a variety of different circumstances.