TTR Alum Danielle’s reflection


Danielle Garcia is a TTR Equestrian Riding Program Alumna. She graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz in 2022, where she was a member of the equestrian team. Garcia is now applying to law school. TTR still benefits from Garcia’s influence as a riding instructor. Below, Garcia¬†shares her personal story/testimonial on how TTR made a difference in her life.


Coming from a poverty-stricken community and single-parent, low-income household, I, like many other young girls with the potential to achieve their dreams, have a lot to be thankful for to Taking the Reins. This loving and welcoming urban farm has given me some of the best memories, including lasting friendships, opportunities to grow, and allowing me and other young women to become the leaders of tomorrow. I am proud to call myself a 14-year TTR participant/alumna and now a TTR riding coach of such a unique and inspiring program.


During my years at TTR, the opportunities offered to me changed my entire outlook on life and will continue to impact my life in the years to come. Taking the Reins introduced me to a world that I would otherwise be unable to experience. During my TTR tenure, I (a) was the Youth Vice Director of AHA Region 2, (b) traveled to Oklahoma and competed at the national level in Judging, (c) traveled to New Mexico to compete in Hippology (the study of all things equine), and (d) acquired my first-paying job with connections provided to me by the TTR program.


As I previously mentioned, I come from a broken family that provided me with no one to set an example and could not provide me with the opportunities and support I needed to achieve my dreams. From a young age, I was forced to be independent and learn from my mistakes as I went along. It is easy for a young girl who has had to endure suffering from an early age to give up on herself and become a victim of the violence, hatred, and drugs surrounding her. That is the very reason I am beyond grateful for Taking the Reins and everyone in it. It has shaped and influenced all aspects of my life. I went from being a reserved, lost, insecure little girl, fearful of the world and the people in it, to a confident, secure young woman who has the values and experiences to pursue her future to the best of her abilities.


Had it not been for the guidance and love I found at TTR, I would not be looking at my future in such an optimistic way. I am the first in my family to attend college and graduated in 2022 as a double major. I am set on being successful in life and giving back to the world that helped make me who I am today.


It is because of Taking the Reins that I can openly acknowledge how far I have come. TTR is a beautiful safe space where uniqueness is welcome, and no one is invisible. With incredible, understanding people who have taught me to welcome change, be open-minded, be proud of who I am, remain humble, and most importantly, work hard for the bright future ahead of me.