Michelle's Story


Dear Giant Steps,

I would like to tell you about some of the profound ways Michelle's life has changed since riding at Giant Steps. Michelle used to disturb things, and tear things apart. She had great difficulties with impulse control. Riding at Giant Steps has helped her learn to develop a loving and caring relationship with animals. In addition, she now feels as if she's part of something larger. Giant Steps has given new meaning to her life.

Michelle's early path in life was a rocky one. Having been transferred to several foster homes before the age of four, Michelle had to deal with instability and abuse most of us can hardly imagine. My husband and I adopted her when she was four and have worked hard to create the tranquility and consistency she had missed during those formative years. She still struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reactive attachment disorder. She has some struggles in her academic life as well. Since kindergarten we have worked to improve her relationships with other students and her teachers.

We first decided to bring the Michelle to Giant Steps in the hopes that the riding program would help provide her with the additional structure that she so longed for after the chaotic nature of her early life. During the weekly classes, Michelle has enjoyed grooming and caring for Giant Steps horse Katydid, warming up in the ring, and sitting in a certain prescribed positions, as well as learning new horsemanship skills. The class structure has been an ideal environment in which to focus on instructions. While on the horse, I am amazed at how Michelle can listen and follow directions with ease! She feels a sense of responsibility caring for and guiding a 1200 pound animal that inspires her in a way that cannot be duplicated in everyday life. When on the horse, she has a single-mindedness. She's finding her center, and is more grounded.

After riding at Giant Steps, Michelle recently began volunteering at a local wildlife rescue, where she tends pigeons, owls, hawks, foxes, squirrels, skunks and coyotes. We've enjoyed watching her discover her great gifts with animals both big and small. She recently received the best report card of her school career with three "A's", five "B’s", and "O's" for Outstanding in the categories "shows respect for rules" and "listens attentively"! We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our wonderful daughter begin to blossom into her true self.

Thanks to the instructors and volunteers who have done an extraordinary job working with Michelle and pushing her to reach new goals week after week. We are delighted with her progress!


Michelle's parents