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Man finds "Redemption" in horse program

CACHE, Okla_A man in Cache is using his lifelong experience of riding horses in an extreme mustang makeover competition.

Anthony Edwards is working with Teen Challenge of Oklahoma Sonrise Ranch to train a horse they call "Redemption." Competitors were given the wild horse at random and had 100 days to train it, leading up to September's makeover competition.

Redemption, the action of saving, or being saved, from an error is something Edwards knows firsthand. Edwards spent five years in a Colorado prison and knows the struggles of changing a lifestyle. He says he used to always turn to drugs and alcohol when he was having a tough time. But when he was sent to prison, he found a new way to cope through the Wild Horse Inmate Program, or WHIP.

That's where he first began training horses and developed a knack for it. He eventually became clean, and realized training horses was something he could run to when life challenged him.

"It has changed my life and it's still changing my life today. I hope I can pass that on to other people, just what it has done for me," Edwards said.

In the competition, horses will go through handling and conditioning drills, a pattern class and a leading and riding trail class. The top 10 will then perform a freestyle routine. For Redemption, it includes kneeling, which they are still working on to perfect.

Edwards has trained the horse enough that he can spin and hop on it with ease. The bond between the two has been there since the beginning.

"It's been amazing from day one. After the first couple of days we were already riding him and really one of the smartest horses I've worked with," Edwards said.

David Hubbard is the executive director of the Teen Challenge of Oklahoma Sonrise Ranch program, which is a men's center that helps people with "broken lives," such as those with drug and alcohol abuse. Hubbard says winning the competition would hopefully help build up the horse program and give them pride.

"It was something we tackled. Of course we have to give God the glory for it. We're excited about what's happening in the horse program and the potential it has to help men's lives be changed here in the ministry of teen challenge," Hubbard said.

Edwards is currently a student in Sonrise Ranch's horse program. He is still involved because he wants to build his faith and also be a role model for people who went through a struggle that is so familiar.

"Don't be afraid to get help. Don't be afraid to receive help. It's tough to do it on your own and it's good too. It's good to be around good people and a good program," Edwards said.

Edwards stays in contact with the group in Colorado and WHIP. He says when he called them, they got excited and said they can't wait to see what he can do on a national level.

Horses can be donated to the program in ranch. For more information, call David Hubbard at 580-429-3940.

The competition is September 10-12 in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first time Edwards will compete in the horse training competition.

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