Borrowed Freedom Equine Assisted Therapies and Activities, Inc.

Borrowed Freedom Equine Assisted Therapies and Activities, Inc. strives to offer a meaningful experience that will enhance wellness, build life skills and bring great joy and self-esteem to children, adults and families with physical, developmental, intellectual, emotional or socioeconomic special needs. We current offer two fee free programs, the Warrior and War Horse program for Veterans, and the HOPE With Horses program for women and girls. We support other services through scholarship assistance, including therapeutic riding and equine assisted learning. We believe that in fostering the wellness and independence that develops through the beneficial relationships between people, animals...
Jan 6, 2015

30 day update from Borrowed Freedom

Greetings from cold and blustery upstate NY! Winter has set in for real now, and we have been hard at work...inside...reviewing our first 30 days of progress on our microproject.

One word really can sum it up, WOW!

We launched this program the first week in December of 2014, and within the first 30 days we received $3,262 toward our goal of $5,000. We would like to make a special note of appreciation to the employees of VMware. We are so honored that so many chose our program to support in December, it really means the world to us. And our heartfelt thanks to VMware, of course, for their commitment to charitable giving through corporate giving campaigns!

I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to know that in January I can meet with our local Veteran's Center to award vouchers for the initial 10 Veterans, with more to come. If our project is fully funded, we will be able to deliver 8 weeks of equine assisted mental health wellness programming to 20 Veterans in our no cost. That's 20 life changing opportunities! We are just so humbled by generosity!

I will update you all monthly as we go along, and I will be sharing a special report toward the end of this month when we deliver the scholarship award to our Veterans Center too.

Thank you so much for helping us make this possible, we could not do it without you!


Dec 22, 2014

Happy Holidays From The Borrowed Freedom Program!

Winning ribbons at the Chemug County Fair!
Winning ribbons at the Chemug County Fair!

Holiday Greetings from the Borrowed Freedom program!

It's hard to believe that another year is quickly coming to an end, and that it has been three years for us here on too! We began our journey during the Winter Open Challenge in 2011, and while it looked pretty bleak for a while (I think there were two or three days when I didn't sleep! HA!), we finished up strong and reached our goals of more than 5,000 and more than 40 donors. I remember after that challenge I though to myself “whew! That was a wild ride! There is NO WAY we could EVER do that again!”. Well, look at us now, three years later, with some of our original supporters still along with us for that ride. We are so very, very grateful to you all.

There has been a lot of good done this year, including the official launches of two of our most important programs to date, the HOPE on Horseback program, and the Willis Ashley Foley, Jr. Warriors and War Horses program for Veterans and their families. Both these new programs have current microprojects on, so if you visit our profile you can receive more information, and of course, we appreciate your shares, Facebook “likes” and more.

We also welcomed a new team member! Her name is Indigo Sky “Harper”, and she is just a gem of a horse. Allyson purchased her last November after falling in love with her. She had no plans of bringing her into the program, but once we saw how she interacted with the children and families...well...let's just say that she was certainly born for this work! She will be completing her training this winter while the program sleeps so she can be ready to start once the program begins again in the spring.

We finished off the year serving 32 individuals with 26 weeks of programming. It was a challenging year for our organization, and like most, we saw a dramatic decrease in our funding. But we remained true to our commitment to serve and were able to do some truly wonderful things, and in the end, that's the true measure of an organizations success! And serving 30+ individuals with full scholarships is something we are very proud of!

To make dollars stretch further, our host farm, Epona Farm Sanctuary, has obtained their 501c3 non-profit status. Epona Farm Sanctuary has provided scholarship based services including Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding for the Borrowed Freedom Equine Assisted Therapies program since 2008. Our partnership was the first in the Southern Tier of NY to offer a comprehensive Equine Assisted Learning and Mental Health program in 2009, and continues to be the largest provider of these vital, life changing services. Together we created and facilitate HOPE on Horseback, the Willis Ashely Foley Jr. Warriors and War Horses program for Veterans, and the Excelsior Thoroughbred Advancement Program. Borrowed Freedom is now able to narrow its focus and mission to supporting those with demonstrated need, and providing the funding for them to receive the services they need at Epona Farm. Epona Farm Sanctuary Foundation, Inc. will focus their mission on providing the outstanding care they always have to horses who have found themselves in need of rescue due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, and displacement. And to providing an environment that is carefully tended to provide stimulation for all the senses, and immersion into the natural world, which is the premise to all of our programming. We look forward to achieving great things together for the community in 2015, and beyond.

On a personal note, Allyson Cheechalk, who has been by my side since 2008 as my biggest supporter, my “voice of reason”, and the best Assistant Instructor (and daughter) a person could ask for, achieved something momentous, The Presidents Call To Service Award. The President's Call to Service Award is awarded by the President of the United States to people who have completed more than 4,000 hours of community service. It is the highest level of the President's Volunteer Service Award and signifies a lifetime achievement. Since 2007 she given nearly 7,000 hours of service to her community. We are so very proud of her, and so thrilled that she has agreed to not only remain supporting Borrowed Freedom in its endevours, but also taking charge of the newly formed Epona Farm Sanctuary Foundation as its President and Executive Director. Allyson will graduate next year with her BA in Psychology with a double minor in Sociology and Terrorism Studies. She will begin her MPA with a focus on Organizational Management in the fall of 2015.

So it has been a whirlwind this year, and we have seen some powerful and awesome work done on the farm in 2014. Each year I say “WOW! This was the BEST YEAR YET!” and I am saying it again this year too! But I know in my heart that it is one in a pattern of best years, one that will help lay the foundation for 2015 to be the best, and for the years that will follow. This was also the best year yet because so many have chosen to continue the journey with us, while we welcomed so many new friends and supporters too. Building an organization is hard, but it is easier when you know you are built from a solid foundation of support. We cannot thank you enough for being their for our clients in 2014!

May your holidays be filled with love, hope, and peace and my you New Year be the brightest and most beautiful ever.

Colleen Cheechalk

Executive Director and Founder

Pre-ride pep talk!
Pre-ride pep talk!
Having some fun on the Equicizer, "Dumplin"
Having some fun on the Equicizer, "Dumplin"
Working on our balance in the fall sunshine
Working on our balance in the fall sunshine


Oct 9, 2014

Borrowed Freedom Fall 2014 News

Welcome Fall!

I have to admit that I am sorry to see this summer end. Weather wise, it was one of the most beautiful summers that we have had in ages. I had to postpone lessons just once, just ONCE for extreme heat and humidity, and that was in September! Ha!

So much has happened this summer, and we are in the final stretch toward the end of the year and season here on the farm. We launched two new programs this summer, our Willis Ashley Foley, Jr. Warriors and War Horses Program, and our HOPE on Horseback Program. The arena at Epona Farm is being expanded, and we have the go ahead to begin a large scale horticulture therapy and farm stand program for the spring! We had a whole lot of riding and adventures in there too!

I think I mentioned in our last report that Ally and I attended the OK Corral Series Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy certification in April. We knew we wanted to bring this expanded knowledge to our experiences and training in Therapeutic Riding, Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Exercise. When we sat and analyzed our current programs and the needs of the community, we have found that adults are often the last people to seek out equine related services for themselves. So I would like to take a moment to tell you about our two newest programs, and what we hope to accomplish.

The Willis Ashley Foley, Jr. Warriors and War Horses Program

With our Veteran's in desperate need of services that help them reintegrate into civilian life, and to help battle the effects of PTSD and the many other physical and emotional needs they may have, we felt it was imperative to open our program to them. Through a series of ground and mounted work, we will work with Veterans and their families in private and group based sessions that include therapeutic exercise, mind-body work, and equine assisted learning and psychotherapy techniques. These carefully designed sessions help Veterans and their families find their inner power and peace, build self-esteem, battle the effects of depression, improve health and wellness, improve functioning for those with physical special needs, and treat the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

We named our program in memory of Willis Foley, who was a Veteran and wonderful horseman. Willis and Karin Foley have been generous supporters of our program since its humble beginnings and have lent their expertise, friendship, financial support and even donated the beautiful Labradors we have from their Blind Squirrel Labradors program. Willis was killed in a tragic accident in June, and the horse community, and the world, lost a great man. We were honored when Karin said yes to our request to name this program in his honor.

HOPE on Horseback

The HOPE on Horseback program for women had been developed to help women in their recovery and fight with breast cancer, yet, in our pilot of the program, we found it was exceptionally beneficial for women rebuilding their lives after domestic abuse, trauma or addictions as well. This program pairs the majestic horse with the powerful female spirit, and we proceed through a series of peaceful, centering, healing exercises that help bring restorative energy to the body and the soul. Our sessions provide numerous benefits including re-sensitization to touch, activation of the vagus nerve to address digestive, respiratory and circulatory issues, increased mind-body awareness and harmony through meditation, breath work and creative imagery and music, but most of all, HOPE for peace, HOPE for awareness and a stronger sense of self.  Sessions are conducted at the Epona Farm Sanctuary by Ally and I, and our trained EFL/EFP Wellness team, clients are surrounded by privacy and the beauty of nature, gardens and music. A gentle and caring team of women will provide support, caring and compassion to women in need. Women helping women, women creating hope.

These two programs will help us reach adults with need, and offer them these life changing opportunities at no charge. We will continue to offer Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy for children, and EFL/EFP for children and adults, but we feel strongly that it is time for us to open our doors to adults with these need based programs.

The Excelsior Thoroughbred Advancement Program

The Thoroughbreds will be partnered with Veterans who are part of our Willis Ashley Foley Jr. Warriors And War Horses program and the HOPE on Horseback program. They will also work with teens at risk of failing in the traditional school setting, and adults recovering from addictions or transitioning to life outside of an institutional setting. The Thoroughbreds we bring into the program will receive comprehensive professional training for a discipline that suits them, such as Dressage, Hunters and Jumpers or Cross Country. When training is complete, the horses will be adopted into fully vetted, approved homes with preference given to therapeutic environments. Our first two sponsored Thoroughbreds Sandy and Leon, helped us fine tune our program and best determine where and how to integrate specific clients and groups. Sandy was adopted to a wonderful family, and Leon has continued his training at SCT and is available through SCT for adoption.

We hope to continue to build support for it this year and next, and begin our next retraining projects in 2015.

Upcoming events!

Our young riders are all preparing for their student horse show on 10/25, we have our annual BBQ on 10/18, and our wine tasting event on 12/6. In November we will also have a huge online auction hosted by Karin Foley and Peggy Ingles. As always, it is quickly becoming the busiest time of the year on the farm! We hope that you will join us for any or all of these events if you able, we would love to meet you in person and show you our work!

Mark your calendars:

BFEAT BBQ – 10/18/2014 at the American Legion on Stella Ireland Rd in Binghamton
BFEAT Student Horse Show – 10/25/2014 at Epona Farm in Endicott, NY
Charity Auction – 11/2014 details coming soon
In Vino Caritas – Charity wine tasting event -12/6/2014 at the Endicott Visitor Center and Museum

Thank you all for your continued support for this program. We appreciate you and all that you do for our clients, horses and our community. You are directly responsible for our many successes and we want to tell you that we truly celebrate YOU every time we celebrate the successful conclusion to a productive season.

Best Wishes!

Colleen Cheechalk

Executive Director


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