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.