On Tuesday, July 16, Mending Strides Ranch officially joined the Mint Hill business community as owner Maria Hogge and her husband celebrated their ribbon cutting on the ranch.
Despite temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the ribbon cutting ceremony drew a large crowd of friends, family, volunteers and Chamber members. Snow cones and other cool treats from Buck’s Ice Cream Truck helped the crowd beat the heat as they socialized on the lawn with Mending Strides’ miniature equine residents Ruby Rose and Petunia.
Hogge began the official ribbon cutting by thanking her husband for the sacrifices he has made so she can see her dream realized as well as all the board members, volunteers, friends and local businesses who have supported the ranch so far. She asked her guests to join her in a prayer offering thanks as well as asking for continued support and protection.
Commissioner Newton joined Hogge in thanking all the volunteers who made this ribbon cutting possible and asking the Lord to continue to support her and the ranch. “I think it’s a very noble idea you have,” said First Choice Properties Owner and Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce Anna Granger. “I remember the first day you came to our table for lunch and you talked to me about it for fifteen or twenty minutes, and I was just really in awe of your vision and your project. We wish you all the best; let us know how we can help, how we can sponsor, how we can help you financially, and how we can spread the word for you. Welcome to Mint Hill.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, Hogge led interested parties on a short tour of the farm. Hogge focused not only on showcasing the farm as is but also her vision for the future and what it will take to get there. “I want people when they pull into the drive to feel a sense of peace,” said Hogge, discussing her goal of seeing the entire fence line landscaped. “There’s a lot of amazing birds here, so we want to do bird and butterfly attracting also.”
As the crowd passed the front lawn where their cars were parked, Hogge discussed plan to eventually fence in the area for additional pasture. She emphasized the time, work and knowledge necessary to maintain the farm, reiterating a desire she has voiced before for a local retired farmer to assist her with the farm’s maintenance.
Beyond the sunroom and leading to the barn, Hogge hopes to build a gazebo or covered area, which will function as a sort of waiting room where therapists will greet clients and family can wait while sessions are taking place. Hogge is particularly excited to clear out brush along the back of the barn and landscape the side of the hill, adding seating facing the barn and a boardwalk that connects to the steps on the other side.
“We’re going to ‘Pinterest it up’ with inspirational quotes and words,” said Hogge. “There’s a lot of journaling in therapy, so if we hold weekend retreats, we might assign participants to pick something on the back wall, and they’ll journal about that. I feel like this will really make it more therapy-related than just a western barn.”
Proceeding to the barn, Hogge introduced the crowd to the rest of the horses. “Our horses are all rescued Mustangs,” Hogge informed the crowd. “A lot of people don’t know that the government has over forty-five thousand mustangs in holding pens. In 2017, the government paid fifty million dollars to feed them and pay vet bills. They’re available for adoption for $175. Not that everyone can handle a mustang,” adds Hogge, “But we’re also trying to bring awareness about that situation.”
After the tour, guests enjoyed snacks and drinks in the sunroom, where they could also view Hogge’s vision board and learn more about her upcoming summer camp programs. Hogge plans to offer two different Equine Assisted Learning camps for children the weeks of August 5 and August 12. August 5th’s camp, “Confident Strides,” is for kids struggling with self-esteem or self-confidence. As participants build and maintain relationships with the horses, they will overcome fears, build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment. August 12th’s camp, “Mindful Strides,” will help children learn to focus and manage difficult emotions through mindful appreciation of themselves and their world in nature.
Both week-long camps will run from 8:30 a.m.to 1:00 p.m. daily. Each day will include an equine assisted activity addressing a life skill, an arts and crafts project, and time spent learning about and enjoying nature. Although individual counseling will not take place, a licensed mental health provider will be part of the equine experience, and children will benefit from being in a supportive environment with peers going through similar life experiences. These are not riding camps; all horse activities take place on the ground, and no prior experience with horses is necessary.
The Mint Hill Times joins the Chamber of Commerce in welcoming Mending Strides to our community. To learn more about Mending Strides’ summer camps and other programs, visit http://www.mendingstridesranch.com.