Stephanie's Story

Rider photo Riders learn to interact and care for their animal therapists.

Dear Giant Steps:

Over a year ago our 15 year old daughter Stephanie* was diagnosed with a severe mental illness and her whole world began to unravel. She lost all her friends, school, sports programs, and her social life. While we have been able to treat her medically, what we could not do as parents was create a new life for her. Then we heard about Giant Steps from an article printed in the newspaper. The reporter wrote about the success of Giant Step’s approach using horses as a therapy tool for children with mental illness as well as those with physical and developmental disabilities. I called immediately and with luck they had an opening and she was able to start within a short period of time. From the first moment we drove down the beautiful country road to the ranch we knew this was going to work. The staff and volunteers immediately helped our daughter to feel totally at ease. During the progression of the lesson which includes grooming, riding, and exercises, we witness our daughter transform into a focused and aware student grinning with the brightest smile. We had not seen that smile in a very long time. The best part is how it makes her feel about herself. This is something she can do and experience success. The skills, bonds, and the success that she is experiencing are helping her create a new life that includes teaching her to live with a major mental illness.

- Parent from Santa Rosa

*Name changed for confidentiality