Our Founder's Story
Freedom Reigns Ranch was born out of a place of redemption. As a little girl, Carissa was the kid that gawked at horses grazing in pastures on the side of the road. She would dream of riding, but only had the chance to do so about once a year and it was on one of these rides that she fell in love with horses. The trail ride was in the middle of a field, the horses spooked and bolted- and she wanted to keep running as the guide told everyone to pull their horses up- she was hooked!
Life had taken some tough turns right out of the “starting gate” through abuse, neglect and in what followed of the outward expression of what was the typical “overachiever” as a way to cope. Depression set in, anger at God the driving force, and determined to never be hurt again she shut everyone out, except for horses. It was through the training of her now life-long equine friend Boston that she learned how to trust again, and God began softening her heart towards Him. She began to realize that many of the things she was teaching Boston were things she needed to learn, and the gentle way she was teaching him was the same thing the Lord was doing with her through caring leaders.
On October 31, 2012 she made the decision to follow Jesus with her whole heart and never looked back! It has not been easy all the time (in fact, not easy most of the time), but He has been faithfully there every step of the way. He has brought complete redemption to the things that were broken.
One afternoon while praying about a young girl that had started coming to the barn the Lord gave Carissa a very clear picture of a teenage girl on the back of a horse. She was terrified and shut down, but then slowly “awoke”, hands raised, radiant and confident not only in riding, but who she was in Christ. The girl in this "picture" became aware of her inherent value and worth. The idea of a ministry using horses to encourage people was birthed and God clearly spoke saying “this is what I’ve done with you, and now I’m going to use you to do it with others. But wait…. this has to be My ministry. Not yours”.
Like a spark erupting into a flame, the process of praying into this ministry began. While still in her career managing a Starbucks, Carissa took in every learning experience offered from others who were also using horses for ministry, attending clinics and conferences centered around Ranch Ministry, and serving wherever she could to gain further experience and wisdom.
Two years after that vision, she had the release from the Lord to leave her career and on faith fully step into what was termed Freedom Reigns Ranch, based out of 2 Corinthians 3:17 that states "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". God faithfully brought the first volunteer in along with the first official “session kids”, soon after a donated pony, followed by more volunteers, the first rescue horse, and it has only grown from there. She constantly says how she is continually in awe of God faithfulness in this ministry! "He often has provision for a need before we even realize it’s there, or it comes right in the nick of time. That provision is always wrapped in the heart of who God is, as it's a direct answer to the need of a person. Even if it comes in the form a horse who needs love and a child who needs to give that love to that horse in order to heal their own heart....There is nothing that compares to seeing kids’ lives change in their time at Freedom Reigns! What a joy it is to serve Him in the way He used to reach me!"