Rachel Royston is now the Executive Director of Turning Point. She joined the program in August of 2016 and has been instrumental in the development of the new Turning Point facility. She has also instituted a mobile mini program to take Baxter, our mini horse to schools, clubs, the library and other locations where equine facilitated learning can happen.
Rachel grew up on a ranch near Shidler where a horse named Dan essentially raised her as she helped with the family cattle and showed in 4-H. She got a horse of her own at 9. That was Comanche, a lesson horse who was done with kids. He mostly taught her how to fall off safely.
College took her to Alva and Northwestern for a degree in Mass Communications. She was on the Synchronized Swimming team which taught her to occasionally get outside your box.
Then her husband Chris took her to Indiana. Her first job there was with a large church planning international mission trips. Serving in countries like Yugoslavia taught her to bravely communicate with folks who speak a different language – not dissimilar to communicating with non-verbal riders. And how to change her leadership style to fit the needs of the team rather than the other way around.
Back in the US, a friend introduced her to therapeutic riding and she’s never looked back. She spent the last eight years at AGAPE Therapeutic Riding Center working with riders with disabilities, women fighting MS, inner-city youth and taking minis to schools, nursing homes, and churches. She is a PATH Certified Instructor, a PATH certified MENTOR and a PATH Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. She was most recently an Instructor and Barn Manager at AGAPE. Her most memorable student there was a blind barrel racer who literally used “bells and whistles” i.e. sounds to know when to circle each barrel. His fearlessness taught her the rewards of risk-taking.
Now, she and Chris are settling into the family ranch near Tryon with their son Gabe who’ll be a senior at Perkins-Tryon this fall. Rachel spent much of July getting to know Turning Point Staff and horses when she wasn’t unpacking or mowing. She says she’s fallen in love with Gizmo because he makes everyone look slim and with all the instructors because they are both kind and passionate about therapeutic riding.
And Rachel’s reputation has proceeded her. She has been a featured speaker at the past four PATH, Intl. conferences for fellow therapeutic riding professionals.