Baker Family’s Trail to a Brighter Future (at Forward Stride)

The connection between horses and humans and the community it fosters is what Forward Stride is all about. The Baker family’s story straddles both sides of the human and horse experience at Forward Stride.

Eldest daughter Alisha participates in the Riding and Vaulting Programs, and she and her sister Malia are both active as horse care volunteers. Their youngest daughter has just started in a mentorship program. And their gelding, Tiny, is now part of the herd at Forward Stride. The programs here have been great for Tiny and the girls.

“The people are kind and the horses are loved,” says the girls’ mother, Bethany. “The staff, volunteers, and horses all love what they do. Everyone receives care here, not just clients.” For Bethany, finding a community that is “safe and nurturing” for her kids to grow in has been vital. “As a mom, I feel like I have struck gold.”

Bethany reflects on the community’s response to Covid and wildfires.

“The staff rallied and had to evolve again and again, keeping a safe environment for all. It was a feat to be sure…and my girls noticed. They noticed the extra effort…the kindness and understanding, the lack of complaining, the reflex quick response to offer relief…they noticed and they felt proud to be a part of it.

Alisha riding Sterling with Mackenzie

The girls share some of their experiences.

According to Malia, volunteering for horse care helps her turn her focus from herself to helping others. And her favorite part is when the horses come up to greet her. “It’s a great start and end of my week, helping me to keep a good mindset.”

Malia mucking a stall
Alisha riding Sterling

For Alisha, it has been a confidence builder, making her stronger and braver, she says, and helping improve her interactions with other people. “I love being out there volunteering with something that I love–Horses!”

“When I am with the horses, I feel a wave of calmness surrounding me. I can express how I feel without actually talking and by using my body language with them. On the days that I have vaulting practice or riding lessons, I get a positive energy that boosts my confidence. There is something about syncing myself with the movement of the horse and that connection makes me happier than ever!”

Alisha vaulting on Kevyn

According to Bethany, for her girls, volunteering “has become more than just horse care. They feel proud to be a part of an organization that cares and gives so much to the people they serve and the larger community. Forward Stride is making a difference in our lives and has had an impact on the hearts of my girls.”

Forward Stride is immensely proud of the growth Malia and Alisha have shown and we can not wait to see what they will do in the future! We work to keep programs accessible to as many people as possible. We never charge the true cost of our programs. The cost of a private hour-long vaulting lesson is $179. A donation of $149 allows us to provide it at the affordable rate of $30.

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