Help A Retired Race Horse Become A Therapy Horse!

by The Center for Equine Assisted Wellness, Inc.

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


Greetings everyone! It's finally here, SUMMER! After the longest, coldest, snowiest, darkest winter I can remember...warmth is finally here!

We have had a busy spring. Unfortunately we got a very late start thanks to winter holding on until May. Then rain and cold continued, which pushed us even further behind. But in the end we were rewarded with lovely spring weather and we wereable to get caught up.

Sandy and Leon have turned out to be wonderful horses, and are now available for adoption through Second Chance Thoroughbreds to the perfect home. We are so glad that we were able to be part of their transition for war horse to the perfect beloved horse of someones dreams. We are currently raising funds for our next potential war horse who will be used to change lives. We know that there will always be a need, and we hope that we can take two again this year as well.

We have been busy planting gardens, teaching lessons, and enjoying the days at Epona Farm Sanctuary, and helping children and adults learn about themselves through their partnership with the horse. I had a wonderful interview with Angel Tobey of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI), and am looking forward to talking with some other groups in the very near future. It has been a tight few months, none of us are immune from decreased donations. While times are tight, I know in my heart that our supporters will be behind us as we move forward, I have all the faith in the world that our clients will continue to grow, learn, and become wonderful people of exceptional character. I aso know that you will help us help horses in need. And I have that faith because of YOU and your continued support!

Please be sure to watch our website and facebook pages for updates, photos and more news!

Thank you so much for your continues support!
Colleen Cheechalk and the Borrowed Freedom/Excelsior team


Sandy and Alyssa during training day
Sandy and Alyssa during training day

Let me tell you...

I am so glad to say GOODBYE WINTER!

This has been the longest, coldest winter I can ever remember and I sure am glad that spring is on its way! We have Thoroughbreds to learn with!

Sandy (JC Say Halo Sandy) and Leon (JC Thundering Roar) are doing exceptionally well. Having them at Second Chance Thoroughbreds has made all the difference. Even in this cold, when very little serious work could be done, the horses are handled, worked with and loved, each and every day. They are quickly moving into new roles of healing partners, and we couldn't have picked two nicer horses! They each have gentle, yet inquisitive personalities, and they quickly adapt to varying experience levels. These are qualities we seek in therapy horses, and these two are simply perfect.

We will be hosting our annual Triple Crown Gala on June 6th this year, at the Endicott Visitor Center. The proceeds this year will be used to help support this growing program, as well as new programs for Veterans. The partnership of Veterans and War Horses is perfect. Each has lived their life in service to others, each will move on from that to civilian life. The transition may be simple, and it may be wrought with psychological and physical special needs that need patient and supportive care and intervention. We are thrilled to have joined the Wounded Warrior Equestrian Program, and will be working with them to advance our programming for Veterans.

As this program starts to grow, we are just overwhelmed with gratitude to all of you who have stepped up to support these horses and the people who will heal and grow with them. We are so grateful to you all, and we cannot wait to share the success stories that will follow!

Many Thanks!

Colleen Cheechalk


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Organization Information

The Center for Equine Assisted Wellness, Inc.

Location: Maine, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Colleen Cheechalk
Program Director
Endicott, NY United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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