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women met and Stephanie discovered what Megan did for a living, she invited Megan to bring her students to the farm for a field trip. In late May, around twenty children in grades K-2


visited Trinity Farm to meet the horses. For many children, this would be their first experience with a horse. Megan’s goal was to introduce the students to a new environment and provide a positive sensory activity. The experience went beyond her expectations when one seven-year-old boy who was especially fearful of unfamiliar situations wanted to touch a horse, but he kept pulling his hand back each time he got close to the animal. He was intrigued, but hesitant. First, Megan held the horse’s tail out away from the horse’s body. After several attempts, the boy reached out his arm and touched the tail. His teachers cheered. Megan touched the horse’s mane and said, “His mane feels like his tail.” Slowly, the boy reached to touch the mane and received accolades from his teachers. “I wonder what the hair on his side feels like,” Megan pondered before touching the horse’s round belly. She said she could “see the child’s wheels spinning.” When the boy finally touched and patted the horse’s side, they were elated, and praised him. “It was remarkable,” his teacher said through tears, “He never touches anything.” Later, students fed carrots to Insterfurst who waited


patiently for each child to bring his hand close enough to the large Trakehner stallion for him to take it with his lips. Another young boy would stretch his arm toward the horse, become frightened and throw the carrot into the air when the horse’s mouth was inches from the child’s hands. Like a benevolent grandpa, the old stallion stood still while each child bolstered his courage and tried again. A therapist put her hand under her student’s hand to guide the smaller hand toward the horse’s mouth. Insterfurst softly took the carrot, and the boy wiped the ensuing moisture off his palm. “Yucky.” After the students returned to school, the children kept


talking about the horses and how they wanted to go back and do it again. Megan shares, “Getting past their fears was so beneficial. Now they talk about wanting to actually get on a horse!”


The Organization The Shepherd’s Corner has many opportunities for people to become involved, but Stephanie cautions that the farm is not a public place where people can show up unannounced. She says, “Although we share the space, Trinity Farm is a boarding and training facility and is a separate business entity from The Shepherd’s Corner. Each entity has to be respectful of the other’s time and structure realities.” Stephanie requires that


72 January/February 2011


people interested in coming to meet the horses and see the rescue facility call to make an appointment with her, and encourages everyone to visit the new website, www. ShepherdsCorner.org. Although she welcomes everyone’s interest, Stephanie is especially seeking opportunities to involve people experiencing stressful or transitional times in their lives. Remembering always the four-legged “reminder of joy” that shared a very difficult time of her own life, Stephanie is hoping to facilitate the offer of similar gifts to others. When asked if the rescue and efforts to involve the


community is a therapy per se, Stephanie smiles and says, “There are wonderful equine assisted therapy programs in this area that do remarkable work with physically handicapped and emotionally displaced people. These programs utilize recognized modalities with accredited therapists that involve horses as part of the therapeutic team. Conversely, our thought was to make a place where people could simply share in the healing process of neglected and distressed horses. What is taken away from this experience may, in fact, be therapeutic—but we have no formal therapy programs.” For volunteers who wish to address the physical needs of the facility, she organizes group work days posted on the website. “We are so thankful for everyone who comes to help!” says Stephanie, and continues by citing the youngest volunteer to date. She is the three-year old grand daughter of a friend who, when she visits, carefully ‘re-homes’ fallen pine cones found cluttering the front of the barn into a small pail her grandmother carries. “Even the smallest hands make a huge difference for us,” Stephanie observes. For those who sign up through the web site and list their skills, volunteers may be contacted to help paint, mow, clear fence lines, cut back overgrown areas and garden. Aside from physically volunteering on the farm, donations to offset veterinary and supportive care, farrier fees and feed for the rescue horses are essential to the operation. With a deep and generous heart, Stephanie plans to use her farm and this new non-profit organization to cast a wider net for animals and people in need, small or great. Whether it’s to place an unwanted horse or provide a setting for a school field trip, Stephanie hopes that people feel comfortable contacting The Shepherd’s Corner at Trinity Farm. “I want to help bridge the gaps between two and four-legged life for the benefit of both,” she remarks. “The Shepherd’s Corner is a place of temporary respite from a hurried and sometimes painful world.”


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