A Place of Healing

Guest Post By Arizona Business Today

National Bank of Arizona helps Rio Verde horse ranch offer hope and discovery

Sprawled across more than 15 acres of the Arizona desert, the sun warms patches of earth where horses heal. Since 2009, Reigning Grace Ranch in Rio Verde has provided a sanctuary for youth and families through experiential equine programs.

“When you walk through the gates of the ranch, you feel like you’re transported somewhere else,” says co-owner Amanda Moore. “Kids [especially] feel safe and not judged.”

Early on, however, the ranch almost didn’t come to fruition. Amanda and her husband, Christopher, found themselves struggling in their marriage due a looming recession and trying to “keep up with the Joneses” where “stuff” took precedent over their relationship.

Christopher explains, “It had so much to do with stuff that was like chocolate bunnies. It looked great from the outside, but when you bit into the middle of it, it was always empty.”

But their trajectory changed when the couple consciously decided to work on their relationship by finding something they could do together, something they could have in common.

“That’s when we adopted our horses,” Christopher says. “As we started working with them, I began to see that they were talking to me in ways that I didn’t understand.”

“…what is it about these horses that’s making these kids feel like they can talk about some pretty deep stuff?”

With their horses in tow, the couple moved to Rio Verde, not only for the wide-open spaces, but also for a quieter, simpler life. Little did they know how much their lives were about to change. On their first night, a herd of wild horses appeared. And as the days passed, even more came.

Eventually, it took Christopher and Amanda several weeks to bring in an entire herd of about 67 horses.
“…what is it about these horses that’s making these kids feel like they can talk about some pretty deep stuff?”

“The neighborhood kids started coming after school to help feed and water the horses,” Amanda says. “And in that process, they started telling me about things going on in their lives, like being bullied and having an eating disorder. It made me think to myself, what is it about these horses that’s making these kids feel like they can talk about some pretty deep stuff? That’s when we started to see the horses as healers.”

Today, Reigning Grace Ranch’s mission is to pair rescued horses with people that are struggling so they can find a way to heal and discover hope in their lives. The Moores, along with a handful of full-time employees and more than 100 volunteers, oversee the ranch’s day-to-day operations and its various programs, including Junior Wrangler Beginner classes in which kids learn to train, ride, and stay safe and confident around horses, as well as therapeutic riding lessons.

Ranch leaders also tailor one-on-one mentorship sessions that include working with or riding a horse, and gardening designed to encourage healing, strength and trust.

Many classes are free or nominally priced. There is little to no overhead due to generous donors and hosted events on the ranch to help offset costs. But, just like any other business, the ranch needed support to continue to be successful.

“We had a group of donors that advised us to find a local bank to partner with,” says Amanda. “National Bank of Arizona was close to the ranch, so I walked into the Cave Creek/Carefree location and asked if they work with nonprofits. That’s when we were connected with Pam [Keefe]. Working with her has been phenomenal. I feel like she and the NB|AZ team are part of our family, our ranch family.”

Christopher agrees. “The treatment we’ve received has been so extraordinary and wildly different than anything we’ve experienced with other banks. We’re very excited about the opportunities that will come from our relationship.”

Looking ahead, the ranch has some big plans in store. They are completing their Hope and Healing barn, complete with 18 horse stalls, and are starting a capital project for a community building. The Moores are also looking at building cabins for kids to stay for an extended weekend.

“We’ve been blessed that the ranch has done well and continues to grow,” says Christopher. “If asked how we can help other nonprofits, I would encourage them to bank with NB|AZ. Because truly, the bank is a big piece of what we do.”