“There’s no limit to life when we surrender our hearts to hope.”
When you visit Reining Hope, you’re bound to witness the grand movement of the Holy Spirit. Whether you believe or not, miracles are happening out here on the ranch, and we’re humbled by the call on our lives to serve young people. Whether it’s deep healing in a hurting heart, physical advancements in a broken body, or spiritual growth in a needy soul – God is using horses and our mentors to reach the young community on many different levels, exactly where they need it most. Reining Hope is a blessing to so many, including us – we hope you choose to visit us soon!
John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
~ Matt & Heather Westbrooks
How it all began…
Heather was living and working as an executive assistant in the Washington D.C. area, when one evening after work, two words popped into her head: “equine therapy.” Not knowing exactly how those two terms went together, she did what any normal person would do – she Googled it! Upon seeing the hard work it would take to execute such a thing, and knowing that those two words didn’t just pop into her head for no reason, Heather looked up at the ceiling of her apartment and said, “No, God. I can’t do that.” But, as you can expect, God had different plans. After one month of very little sleep and things falling apart at work and in life, out of desperation Heather relented and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” … that night, she had the best sleep she’d ever had.
Not knowing anything about horses beyond their natural beauty, Heather started spending time at a ranch to learn as much as she could. She ransacked the library for equine books, and she made her mind a sponge for all things horse. She also began searching for horse ranches in Oregon and Washington because she assumed God wanted her to finally move back home. Once again, God had different plans. For no explainable reason, the doors kept shutting on each property she found on the west coast. And just when she began to doubt whether or not she had understood God correctly, a very unexpected opportunity came out of the wood works.
In just 30 days after submitting to God’s call on her life, Heather was handed over the keys to a beautiful ranch in Prince George County, Virginia. She officially moved into her new home in November 2013, and she purchased a heavily wooded property right next to it. God had His plan, and He was making it happen.
Reining Hope began welcoming visitors to the ranch in 2015, while the non-profit application was in process. During this time, Heather focused a great deal of time and energy on designing the perfect indoor arena and barn for the program. Its gorgeous white sides with red trim were just what Reining Hope needed to look the part of a sophisticated, have-it-all-together program. But as the story goes…God had different plans. The funds weren’t there, the program wasn’t getting the attention it needed, and Heather was falling ill under the stress of kicking off such a huge project. Again, out of desperation, she reached out to Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Bend, Oregon for guidance, and it just so happened that their similar ministries conference was just about to begin. On her flight over to Oregon, Heather prayed and asked God to do two things: 1) tell her if she should build a barn, and 2) make it clear what the program should look like.
During the opening night of the conference, Heather opened up her booklet, only to find a very empty sheet of paper with six words typed at the top: YOU DO NOT NEED A BARN. And by the end of the three day conference, not only did Heather know exactly what the program should like, but she was able to record it all down on paper so that she could clearly explain it to the Board upon her return. God had delivered once again! By the time Heather returned to the ranch with her newfound enthusiastic energy, two students were signed up and ready to start their sessions. The moment Heather redirected her attention from what she thought to be important – the barn – to what God knew to be more important – the kids – requests began rolling in.
Reining Hope was granted its 501(c)3 status in January 2016, and it has been helping families ever since. Many miracles have taken place out on the ranch, and it’s by no accident that we sit just 17 minutes away from Ft. Lee Army Base. Reining Hope’s story is one of God’s gentle whisper, persistent love, and mighty plan.