Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Gentle Barn brings animals and humans together to heal.

The Equine Reader has long missed the expansive fenced swaths of bluegrass that I left behind when I moved to NYC. While I cannot discount how much I also love the verve and energy of big city life, there's always been a part of me that has dreamed of having a farm where I could "tend the rabbits," and focus in particular on rehabilitating horses that have fallen on hard times. I want to have such a place not just to do good by displaced equines, but also so that young people could come to the farm and reap the mental and emotional benefits that come with caring for and building a partnership with a horse.

Imagine then my surprise and joy when I ran across a New York Times article today about The Gentle Barn. This non-profit organization in California rescues abused farm animals of all species, rehabilitates them physically and mentally, and then pairs them with young people who have also been the victims of trauma or abuse. The kids connect with the animals because they have experienced similarly painful backgrounds, and are often able to share their emotions around the animals in ways that they do not feel safe doing around other humans. The animals in turn learn slowly to trust humans again, and begin to recover from the hard times that befell them before they ended up at the Gentle Barn.

Anyone interested in donating to this amazing program can do so here, or can contact the organization and become a long term sponsor of one of the animals. It just goes to show how therapeutic it can be to connect with other living creatures, whether they whinny, snort, bark, or crow. Perhaps one of these days I will start a Gentle Barn in New York...