Our Girls

Our Girls at a Glance

The CORRAL Riding Academy serves at-risk girls from eleven to eighteen who are referred by one of the many local agencies that partners with CORRAL. These agencies include Wake County Human Services, Teen Court, The Department of Juvenile Justice, local police departments, court counselors, mental health professionals, teachers and principals.

We use the term “at-risk” broadly so that CORRAL can help as many girls as possible. The distinction of “at-risk” refers to (but is not limited to) risk factors that include: poor academic achievement, likelihood of dropping out of high school, personal/family history of court-involvement, substance abuse, history of sexual, physical or mental abuse, poverty, neglect, suicidal tendencies, poor peer relations, low self-esteem, or gang involvement.

On the outside, these girls look normal, but on the inside, they are completely broken.





Meet Our Girls

Names and stories below have been altered for privacy purposes, but statistics are actual representations of our girls.


I didn’t eat dinner last night. It’s not that my parents don’t work hard. It’s just that it’s the end of the month. Even though I get lunch at school, it’s hard not to wonder why God, if He even exists, hates my family. I started going to CORRAL a few weeks ago, and it’s been cool to meet other girls who have some of the same thoughts as me and have people around me who genuinely care.


There was a time in my life when I hated everything and everybody. I just wanted to be left alone. I closed myself off. I didn’t want to live anymore. That’s when I tried to end it all. I’m thankful for the people at CORRAL- they were there when it was so dark. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was screaming out for someone to notice and love me. Sure my parents did but their love wasn’t good enough for me at the time. That’s when they reached out to CORRAL. It’s a slow process, but things are really different now. I am making A’s and B’s in all my classes and I have friends at the farm. I would be totally lost without CORRAL


I got busted by the cops for carrying a concealed weapon. It was the third time so Juvenile Justice sent me straight to 
a youth penitentiary. But I was just trying to protect myself. If you didn’t carry a weapon in my gang, you were toast. And being in the gang wasn’t a choice for me. I was born into it. After the penitentiary, the courts ordered me to go to CORRAL for therapy. When I first met my horse, I started to believe that there might be another way for me... this was so different, so new, so fresh. CORRAL helped me find the love and respect for others, myself and life I’d been lacking my entire life.


I learned a long time ago that nobody wants me. My mother left me when I was six. I still remember it. Since then I’ve lived in more foster homes than I can count. Each stay ends the same. With me packing my bags and leaving. I don’t get my hopes up anymore about having a family. Well, that was before I came to CORRAL. They paired me with a horse who can relate to how I feel. Surprisingly, I’ve also met other girls who get me. This place is like my real home.


When I was younger, like seven years old, I saw my dad rape my mom. They were divorced, but he came over one night. I know it doesn’t make sense, but I still feel guilty. I really hate my dad. I mean HATE. And it makes me not trust other men. But at CORRAL, I know the horses won’t betray my trust. Through spending time with them, I’ve started to believe that there are things worth living for, and that not all relationships will come back to bite me. My fears are slowly beginning to go away.


I can do pretty much whatever I want. No one at home really cares where I am. Come to think of it, no one’s ever at home. I’m scared of being alone. So I go on walks until I find groups of people. I don’t know them and they don’t know me. But hearing the sounds of their voices makes me feel safer. CORRAL makes me feel safer too. It’s like the home I never had. Filled with love and laughter and life. Oh, yea, and horses.


Sometimes when I walk into big groups of people, my hands start to sweat and my heart beats really fast. It’s so awkward. I’m so awkward. And right before tests, my chest gets tight. I feel like I can’t breathe. But time with the horses at CORRAL has changed everything! The horses have taught me to be more patient with myself and with others. When I see the horses get spooked from time to time, I’ve learned how to sooth them carefully and gently. And now, whenever I feel my chest start to tighten, I can sooth myself with tenderness and compassion.


My parents have never gotten along. They separated when I was eight. I go back and forth between their houses every week. No child should have to pick between parents. I was a bitter, angry mess. Then CORRAL entered the picture. They loved me regardless of how 
I acted and helped me deal with my anger. They helped me understand the importance of forgiveness and that family doesn’t always have to be blood. The girls and the horses at CORRAL feel like my family now and I am so thankful!


I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. Sometimes when I was alone, I wanted to kill myself. I didn’t want to live anymore. I questioned, “what’s the point, does my life even matter?” I hated my evil thoughts and it made me hate myself. CORRAL gave me hope. Spending time with the horses taught me how to love. The horses needed me as a part of their healing and I needed them. I loved them, even in their brokenness. This taught me to love myself for who I am. I know my life matters now.


I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but I’m thankful you’ll listen – no one else has seemed to listen over the last few months. My stepdad started drinking a lot in January. The more he drank, the more likely he was to hit me or my mom. I used to wear long- sleeved shirts to school to cover up the bruises. For a long time I wanted to tell someone, but I was afraid he’d find out. Now that I’m at CORRAL, they’ve helped me find a new place to live – in a group home. I’m learning that there are people who really care, who will step in and stand up for me. I’m learning how to stand up for myself in front of the big horses. And, I’m learning how to open up and trust people again.


I grew up in a rough neighborhood. My cousin and older brother were in a gang. You had to be where we lived to be safe. You’d get jumped otherwise. At eight, 
I started running drugs for my brother. No one suspected me of being involved which played to my benefit with fellow gang members. I was important to them (or at least I thought I was). And I wanted to be liked and cool so I did some pretty bad stuff. But CORRAL gave me new friends who genuinely liked me for who I am. At CORRAL, for the first time I learned what it meant to be truly safe.


I started drinking and smoking cigarettes when I was 13. My best friend’s older siblings introduced us to alcohol. I remember hating the taste, but it felt so good to fit in. Before I knew it, my life started spiraling out of control. Dinking led to smoking pot. Smoking pot led to “harder drugs.” I started skipping classes and not caring about anything. I was headed nowhere fast, and then I was introduced to CORRAL. At first, I hated it. But, in a lot of ways, it took CORRAL to save my life. They don’t judge me here. I’ve been sober now for more than a year.


I’ve never met my biological mother. She’s still living but wants nothing to do with me. Because of this, I’ve hated her my whole life. I’ve felt rejected and unwanted. How could she do this to me? I just want to be loved. This made me try to find love in all the wrong places - guys, fitting in with the wrong crowd, etc. But, at CORRAL, they’ve taught me that my life IS worth something. And I believe them. It’s still a process, for sure. But I’m so thankful to have sisters who love me and show me how much God loves me, even if my real mom doesn’t!


I’ve had a funny feeling in my tummy for as long as I can remember. It used to only happen when my older cousin came over and wanted to play in the basement with me. But, the more we played, the longer the funny feeling in my tummy would stick around. Now it’s always there but when I’m at CORRAL, it’s not as bad. Because I know my cousin can’t find me here. This is my safe place.


My name is Sybil. My dad hasn’t been in the picture - ever. They say it’s hardest on boys to be raised without a father around, but you know what, it’s been pretty hard on me and my mom too. She works two jobs so we never see each other. I wake up and she’s already gone for the day. I come home after school and she’s out the door within an hour for her second job. I go to bed, no mama in sight. And this endless cycle continues day after day. Why did my dad leave us? It was all my fault. I just know it. But CORRAL has taught me that I am NOT discardable. God CAN and DOES love me, even though my dad didn’t.

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Corral Riding Academy