horses, hope and healing
Since our official beginning in June 2009, we have developed and funded programming that has changed lives at Epona Equestrian Center & Farm Sanctuary. With an incredible team of horses and dedicated volunteer therapists, educators, and equine professionals, children take their first steps and speak their first words. The horses have helped teens and adults to look inside of themselves and find their personal power, and their own beautiful spirit.
The team has also helped horses heal from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and helped other horses transition into a new career as a healing, guiding horse and friend. All have found supportive refuge, healing, emotional growth and new beginnings as well as respite from stress, trauma, abuse and pain. And in our work with retiring Thoroughbred racehorses, we are committed to educating the public about the myths and misconceptions of horse slaughter as "humane euthanasia", and offering educational programs that promote ethical, responsible horse care and ownership.
When horses and humans make a magical, natural connection, it is a bond that leaves everyone it touches with a truly remarkable experience, and a life forever changed. Together, we believe that we can help make the world a better place for humans, horses and the environment.
horses helping humans
We work only with professionally credentialed and certified volunteer staff to develop and deliver programming that creates a physically and emotionally safe and supportive environment, based on scientifically proven equine assisted techniques, that allows clients to achieve personal goals. Each session is based on the Heart Work With Horses philosophy which was created by our founder, Colleen Cheechalk. Ours is a holistic approach to learning, behavior change, adaptation, physiology and empathetic communication... all with the help of the majestic, powerful and intuitive horse. Our sponsored services help children and adults find the holistic connection between their mind, body and spirit so they can live productive, healthy, joyful lives.
We currently provide the funding and support for the following programs, and a team of nine therapy horses, you can click on the program name to read more:
- Willis Ashley Foley, Jr. Warriors And War Horses Program for Veterans
- HOPE on Horseback for Women
- Excelsior Thoroughbred Advancement Program for retiring Thoroughbred race horses
- Growing Wellness/Sensory Trail Project - A therapeutic horticulture and equine based program for families (2015)
Scholarship supported community programming that is provided on a case by case basis. Please visit Epona Horsemanship for more information about these services:
- Group Equine Assisted Learning for community homes, programs and institutions
- Private Equine Assisted Learning and Psychotherapy
- Pediatric Equine Assisted Exercise
Borrowed Freedom is a Facility Member of the American Hippotherapy Association and we are proud to have highly trained, credentialed and certified volunteers and staff providing our sponsored services.
humans helping horses
At the center of all of our is the horse, and we are passionately committed to promoting a "Horse First" program. We hold equine welfare, and the humane care of horses in the highest regard. We work with a network of top rescues across the county to rehome, rehabilitate and rescue horses in need. In recent years, our efforts have been centered on the retiring Thoroughbred race horse, and it has led us to form the Excelsior Thoroughbred Advancement Program. Our founder is the creator of the Horse Welfare Collective, a new group of leaders in the rescue community who freely share their knowledge and expertise through social media, to make the world a better place for horses.
The photos above are of Paco, who was removed from a Binghamton Hippotherapy facility on June 9th, 2009, less than one month after his placement. The first two are of the day he arrived here on the farm to rehabilitate, the last two are of him months later. As shocking as it is to think of, he was used in that debilitated condition during a Special Olympics competition just two day before being removed. What is even more disappointing is that the participants and supporters were unaware of how wrong, and cruel it was to use him. It wasn't their fault, they simply did not know!
It is because of Paco, and the many horses out there who are used and worked in inhumane ways under the the guise of helping, that we chose to start our own program. He will forever be our inspiration to educate the public so they can begin to hold equestrian and therapeutic programs to the highest standards for the physical and emotional well-being of the horse, and to educate the public on the proper care and treatment of these amazing creatures.
Paco never fully recovered from the damage that was done in that short period of time, however, he was able to retire comfortably and help a few cherished children find their inner power, which is all he really lived to do...make people happy.
Paco was laid to rest on June 17th, 2012. He will live on in the hearts of all who loved him.
how you can help
Our unique organization provides support, training and assistance that brings horses, farm animals, companion animals and trained adult professionals and volunteers together to provide the only comprehensive animal assisted therapies program of its kind in the Southern Tier and Central NY. Because of our many scholarship options, each and every session is delivered at no charge to the participant whenever possible. We receive no state or federal funding for our services, are not a United Way recipient, nor are these services covered under insurance plans.
You can learn more about the many ways you can help our organization, or make a donation now by clicking here.
our generous sponsors
Our Donor, volunteer, client and accounting software has been provided by a
generous grant from Aplos Non-Profit Software