Corral Riding Academy in Cary is all about transforming the lives of horses and their riders. This therapeutic riding program led by Joy Currey pairs girls in high risk situations with rescued horses, for a bond that produces healing and hope.

The reason we chose rescue horses is we wanted to inspire the girls, and we wanted them to see if these horses can overcome the circumstances that they have, then maybe the young women can too.

Joy Currey, Executive Director of Corral Riding Academy

Called back to the Triangle

If you told Joy Currey 30 years ago that she would be running a transformational horseback riding program in the Triangle, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.

Currey grew up in the Triangle, but hadn’t planned on staying there.

“After college, I went and taught in inner city Philadelphia and inner city New York. I did that through Teach for America. That’s when my heart really developed for the kids that we serve here at Corral—kids that had been dealt a tough hand in life and didn’t seem to have very many options,” she said.

From there, she spoke with different community members and saw a need to serve kids in tough situations living right in her former backyard. And Corral Riding Academy was established.

From horses to healthy relationships

“When we work with girls, we’re working on teaching them how to have relationship with horses,” said Lauren Clements, Managing Director at Corral. “They’ve often been failed by other relationships with people in their lives, so it’s easiest to teach them how to have a healthy relationship with a horse first. Then once they really understand how to have healthy boundaries, how to set expectations in a relationship, they’re able to work with a therapist to translate that to relationships in their life.”

Currey explained the intention behind connecting girls with rescue horses.

“The reason we chose rescue horses is we wanted to inspire the girls. We wanted them to see if these horses can overcome the circumstances that they have, then maybe the young women can too.”

This cycle of inspiration doesn’t just make an impact on the riders and their horses, but the employees as well.

“I would say the most rewarding thing for me is when a girl gets on a horse for the first time and it’s oftentimes when it’s a girl that is really really afraid of a horse and really, really afraid of vulnerable relationships. When she gets on a horse for the first time she has this ‘a-ha’ that she can do amazing things,” said Clements.

Not all rainbows and butterflies

Corral Riding Academy has been transforming lives for 10 years. That transformation isn’t always easy.

“It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, there are a lot of tough days. In fact, I would say most days are tough days,” said Currey. “But when you see those moments, those breakthrough moments—and they’re always just little moments, but they build upon one another—then you realize what were doing here really counts and it matters.”


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