Herd of Hope was founded by Aileen Stevens to rescue horses who were abused, neglected, and often forgotten. Part of the rehabilitative process at Our Happy Place is providing rescued horses a place to heal and find both meaningful relationships and purpose. Herd of Hope’s developmental and therapeutic programs provide opportunities for both.
Over the last decade, professionals across disciplines, including neurobiology, psychiatry, psychology, and social work, have confirmed what our ancestors have always knows: humans and horses are meant to partner, learn, and survive—together. Horses teach us to be present and require us to be honest about who we are and what we are feeling. Their ways of relating to others in their herd teach us about human relationships. Their sensitivity to body language and things unsaid make them a mirror of sorts, allowing us to see ourselves more clearly. Horses have something to offer all of us.
Herd of Hope is developing a continuum of services and programs, including:
G.R.I.T. Youth Development Program
G.R.I.T. is an acronym that speaks to many of the important learning objectives correlated with preteen and early-teen development: establishing and pursuing goals; creating resilience; integrity; and teamwork. Our program is designed to meet each participant where she or he is developmentally. Using creative “classroom” strategies, experiential learning, and substantive content related to human - horse relationships and horse care, we challenge each participant to learn and grow, offering support and encouragement that will make risk-taking a little less frightening. Youth participants learn about horses in both classroom and barn settings; participate in farm work; and engage in group activities that require cooperation, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Educational Enrichment Programs
Herd of Hope offers flexible, responsive programming to schools in the Lancaster County School District. We have offered a “club format” for middle schoolers interested in horses, hosted field trips for youth with special needs, and graduate-level class to students at a local university. We continually seek opportunities to partner with educational institutions and continue our journey of learning.
Operation Rough Riders
The Rough Riders were President Teddy Roosevelt's Cavalry Unit during the Spanish American War. One of our veteran participants suggested this name (abbreviated, ORR), as it suggests a legacy of service, courage, and strength. ORR experiences and programs are offered to veterans who come to us through a variety of paths—some contact us personally and are seeking opportunities to work through the lingering effects of their military experiences; others are referred to us by professionals from the Veterans Administration and/or Veterans Court. The content, format, and length of these services vary to meet the needs of participants, but held in common is a dedication to facilitating the wellness of men and women who served, and their families.
Meditation & Wellness ("Equinimity")
We look forward to offering workshops that support wellness. A highlight of these experiences is meditation with the horses, a grounding experience that is unique. The humans in our herd include fitness trainers, meditation experts, and massage therapists, all of whom can add their expertise to the natural healing offered by the horses in our herd.
Team Building & Professional Development
Our herd knows first-hand that sharing in the work of a horse farm builds connections, enhances relationships, and creates opportunities for growth and learning. We are eager to help you create an equine experience that allows you to build a stronger team among your co-workers, colleagues, staff, and/or group.
Strengthening Our Herd
Our Happy Place--the farm where are programs are offered--is owned and operated by women. We are mothers, and we understand the work of building relationships, raising families, and holding down jobs. We celebrate the work of mothering--in all its forms--and we believe that the best forms of mothering happen when we take care of ourselves and then work together to take care of each other. Here at the farm, that is exactly what we do. We learn from the horses (herds are typically guided by the wise mothers, or mares, in the herd) and partner with them to learn some very important lessons about getting along, finding our place, and celebrating our fierce and loving spirits. We are creating a variety of programs and experiences that celebrate women and mothers.
We welcome conversations with families and community members who are interested in our services and seeking alternatives to traditional developmental and therapeutic programming. For more information, please contact Dr. Heather Girvin, firstname.lastname@example.org.