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Tehachapi nonprofit inspires foster children through equine mentorship

Watch Them Rise connects foster kids with horses
Posted at 9:48 AM, Apr 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 12:48:28-04

TEHACHAPI, Calif. — "Horses, my whole entire life, have just saved me in more ways than I can even count," said Heather Skow. "When I felt like humans didn’t understand me, when my parents were getting divorced and everything, my horse understood me and he made me feel loved unconditionally.”

And she wanted to share that feeling with others but wasn’t sure how. Heather said it clicked when she became a mom.

“I’m looking at this tiny baby and thinking, I could never imagine her growing up in a world where she didn’t feel loved and valued and safe," said Heather. "I know that so many children don’t have all those things, you know, they don't feel safe in their homes they’re jumping around from foster care to foster care.”

So about three years ago, Heather created Watch Them Rise, a nonprofit connecting Kern County’s foster youth with horses.

“Teach the girls about horses, how to tack them up, how to groom them. It teaches you to be brave. It teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone and to build confidence and do something you’re not comfortable with," she said.

Watch Them Rise has held several programs at their ranch so far.

“Really learn leadership and how to be leaders in their own community amongst their friends, and teach them that people love them and that we care and that they’re worthy and that they can actually do what they want to do." said Heather.

Once school schedules go back to normal, Heather wants to create a weekly work-to-ride program. She said she hopes to make foster youth feel seen and supported.

“If we can just change the trajectory of one child’s life, then all of it’s worth it for me. If we can just show these girls that they’re worthy, people care about them, that they can go to college, that they can choose a different path than potentially what their life is heading towards, then it’s all worth it," said Heather.

She said right now, they have programs happening about once a month but hope to make them weekly.

If you’d like to volunteer or help fundraise, message Watch Them Rise on social media or email Heather at

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