Hoofin'it for Horse and Human Healing

by EQUUS Foundation
Lauren & Nate at the top of Mount Katahdin
Lauren & Nate at the top of Mount Katahdin

On September 23, 2014, after 171 days and 2,185.3 miles hiking the Appalachian Trail, Lauren Davis and Nate Kramer reached the peak of Mount Katahdin completing their Hoofin' It for Horse and Healing adventure. "The climb up Katahdin was extremely difficult and dangerous. It had snowed earlier and there was a thick layer of ice and frost covering the rocks on the way up, so we were thrilled when we finally reached the top", said Lauren.

Lauren and Nathan set out on their journey of a lifetime on April 6 to hike the Appalachian Trail to make a positive impact on their lives and to contribute to their passion - the welfare of horses and their powerful bond with people. The EQUUS Foundation received nearly $8,000 from donors inspired by their passion.

Lauren and Nathan used their own funds and resources to support themselves along the trail. EQUUS Foundation Corporate Partner Ariat International provided the hikers with needed attire.

Inspired? Contact the EQUUS Foundation at equus@equusfoundation.org to organize your own charitable adventure!

Lauren & Nate almost at the finish line
Lauren & Nate almost at the finish line
Lauren & Kramer Half-Way at Harper
Lauren & Kramer Half-Way at Harper's Ferry

After 94 days on the Appalachian Trail, Lauren Davis and Nate Kramer arrived in Harper's Ferry, marking the half-way point in their Hoofin' It for Horse and Healing Adventure. "This mile marker is considered the 'psychological halfway point' because just about everyone that will likely fail the trail will quit before or just at this point," said Lauren.

Lauren and Nathan set out on their journey of a lifetime on April 9 to hike the Appalachian Trail to make a positive impact on their lives and to contribute to their passion - the welfare of horses and their powerful bond with people.

Brook Hill Visit - Making the adventure even more meaningful!
"It was a great boost for us to visit Brook Hill Farm in Forest, Virginia," said Lauren. Not only was it an incredible treat for them to enjoy some creature comforts like a comfy bed, hot shower, and homemade meals after living in the woods for over two months - more importantly, their spirits were rejuvenated.

Accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, under the leadership of Jo Anne Miller, Brook Hill rescues and rehabilitates horses that are no longer useful and/or injured. Once healed, the horse is available for placement requiring a life-time free lease agreement with a carefully screened applicant or the horse is used in Brook Hill's Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) program. Brook Hill Farm is a PATH International member center with staff members that are certified Registered instructors and Equine Specialists in Mental Health and Learning in addition to an educator with a degree in learning disabilities.

"Brook Hill is unique in that it is a horse rescue focused on rehabilitation and retraining, a safe haven for unwanted horses needing sanctuary, but also provides equine assisted activities and therapies for area youth and adults," said Lauren. "We hope that sharing our experience will help to shed more light on the endless benefits of horse rescue coupled with human therapy."

One of their most innovative programs, United Neigh, matches unwanted horses with at-risk youth ages 12-18. As a United States Pony Club Center, United Neigh uses the Pony Club curriculum to teach basic horse care, horse rehabilitation, riding skills and personal accountability with the goal of decreasing the high school drop–out rate.

The National Education Association's Twelve Point Plan for Reducing the School Dropout Rate pinpoints "community-based, real-world learning experiences for students" and involvement in small after school groups as a key factor in increasing the rate of high school graduation. Brook Hill's unique program utilizes equine facilitated learning to provide just such an experience for at-risk youth in the Central Virginia area.

One of Jo Anne's methods is to pair each child with a rescue horse that shares similar personal traits with the child, thus giving the child a project that not only helps the horse but in return teaches them how to cope with their own issues or disabilities.

Lauren remarked, "The beauty of it is that they foster a family-type of setting, which some of the children have never or will never get to experience outside of the program, in their own homes. We were able to personally chat with each of the kids during their riding session, as well as the volunteers and staff. Listening to the stories of these kids was so heart wrenching. It was so clear how much the program meant to them."

$7,500 Already Raised! Lauren and Nate's goal is to raise $25,000 to essential funding to reduce the unwanted horse population, retrain horses for multiple careers, and make equine therapy available to more people.

Lauren Davis & Nate Kramer on Springer Mountain
Lauren Davis & Nate Kramer on Springer Mountain

The Hoofin' It for Horse and Human Healing Adventure was officially underway on April 6, 2014 when Lauren Davis and Nate Kramer set out on their 5+month journey to hike the Appalachian Trail to make the world a better place for horses. On April 16, we received word that they had crossed into North Carolina surpassing the 100-mile mark. After three days in the Smokey Mountains, they arrived in Gatlinberg, Tennessee on April 24.

After completing the hike covering 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine, they plan to continue on into the International Appalachian Trail by hiking up to another 690 to 1,900 miles.

Lauren and Nathan are using their own funds and resources to support themselves along the trail. 100% of the donations raised in connection with this adventure will be used for horse welfare.

$5,000 Already Raised!  Lauren and Nate's goal is to raise $25,000 to essential funding to reduce the unwanted horse population, retrain horses for multiple careers, and make equine therapy available to more people.

What inspired these two young adventurers? Lauren struggled as a child and young adult to find normality in a twice-divorced family, a constant clash with her siblings, and a terrible loneliness. A "throw away" horse, whose function as a brood mare was over, changed the direction of her life. Nate, serving in the Marine Corps for nine years, experienced the detrimental effects of war and military life, and discovered how horses are improving Veterans' lives.

"When Lauren and Nate approached me with their project, "Hoofin' It for Horse & Human Healing", I was immediately inspired by their passion", said Lynn Coakley, EQUUS Foundation President. "We hope that horse lovers everywhere will be inspired as well."

Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail

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Organization Information

EQUUS Foundation

Location: Westport, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.equusfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Shannon Coakley
Westport, CT 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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