“I’m helping my neighbor, she just broke her elbow. Can you send me questions through e-mail?” This was the reply that Lori Harmon, Executive Director of Equine Alliance Youth Foundation located in Paso Robles, CA gave in response to me asking if I could interview her for an article. Her response was my first clue to the heart of Lori and Equine Alliance Youth Foundation that she is the Executive Director of and the visionary who started the whole thing.
What is Equine Alliance Youth Foundation?
What would most horse enthusiasts answer when asked what impact horses have had on their lives? Some common responses would be: confidence, friendship, acceptance, independence, responsibility, having something to take care of, trust, appreciation of beauty . . . and many more responses. Now imagine you are an abused, abandoned, and broken kid . . . how would hanging around and working with abused, abandoned and broken horses impact you?
Lori and her husband experienced first-hand the impact that taking care of a horse-in-need had on a child-in-need who was placed in their care. Lori tells her story, “My husband and I were awarded sole legal custody of a six year old child. We were unaware of the extensive psychological and emotional neglect that this child had suffered until she arrived at our home . . . then for lack of a better term, ‘All hell broke loose’. She was diagnosed with failure to thrive syndrome, attachment disorder, and hostile aggressive behavior towards adults, children and animals. I quit my job to take care of her full-time and the family attended weekly therapy for two years with very little progress. We were told by professionals that we were in over our heads and we were beginning to lose hope. We moved to a small ranch on the outskirts of Lompoc, CA. We had a few horses at the time but she never showed much interest in them until we came across a little neglected Arabian mare that was abandoned at a local boarding stable. The two formed an immediate bond. At 8 years old she took full responsibility for the care of the horse: grooming, feeding, cleaning corrals and much to our surprise training the little mare. The two went on to ride in the Lompoc Valley Pony Club and were an awesome team. This was the breakthrough that changed this little girl’s life forever. She is now grown and has a family of her own. I can tell you, we owe it all to a little horse named Tober!”
Currently at the family home on the six acre ranch in Paso Robles, 14 horses are being loved back to grace, strength and beauty by 30 kids/teens residing in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties who are in need of love, grace, strength and beauty in their lives. The kids/teens come once or twice a week and stay for two to four hours depending on their situation and activity.
Lori tells us about the horses that they care for, “The majority of horses we rescue have suffered from abuse and neglect or taken in because of behavioral problems. Most horse behavioral problems are man-made miscommunication problems.”
She then tells us the role the kids play in the lives of these horses and the impact that role has on the kid’s lives, “At the ranch kids are taught animal psychology and how to work with it, not against it. They learn and institute prey animal psychology and learn to speak the language that the horse already understands. Kids really enjoy rescuing and rehabilitating horses. I have seen some of the worst rouge horses turned around by kids into safe, quiet, happy and willing partners. Kids bring out the best in horses and horses bring out the best in kids.”
Hard Financial Times
Unfortunately, hard-economic-times only grow the demand for the services Equine Alliance Youth Foundation provides while at the same time limiting the funds available from private donors. The majority of the kids/teens served are referrals from youth service organizations and agencies and all come to the ranch and get involved in the year-round programs free of charge.
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation has no paid staff and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. No government/state funding is received. Financial support now more than ever is needed to provide youth with the tools to achieve their full potential as adults so that they can become our next generation of leaders, hard workers, effective parents and engaged citizens. So to help with the generation of funds Equine Alliance Youth Foundation is hosting an Open House on August 16, 2014 at the ranch in Paso Robles and YOU are invited!
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation Open House
Saturday August 16th, 10am-3:00pm
New and used tack for sale, music, raffle, horse adoptions
Student Natural Horsemanship Demonstrations
Enjoy Mr. Morrison’s award winning chili beans served from the chuck wagon
Bring your family and friends!
The purpose is to raise funds for 30 under-served youth to participate in
Equine Assisted Learning and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
Come join in the fun!
Please no pets.
4610 Ross Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Phone 805-835-5104
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation is also seeking donated items from local businesses and individuals for a raffle to be held at the Open House. For your donation, you and/or your business will be acknowledged in our advertising, press release and, of course, at the event itself. Your donations are tax deductible.
Please help to provide Scholarships for 30 underserved youth to participate in our year-round therapeutic services. If you cannot attend but would like to donate towards a scholarship please visit us on the web at www.equinealliance.org and donate via pay-pal or snail mail at Equine Alliance 4610 Ross Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Greatest Joy and Dream
“Our greatest joy is witnessing the many, many kids and horses healing each other through love, unwavering trust and a keen understanding of what the other has been through. It’s a miracle that we’ll never grow tired of. Most kids would love to spend the whole day at the ranch; it’s hard to get them to go home sometimes. Our dream is to have a large ranch with living quarters so we can provide experiential learning therapies utilizing horses to assist with personal growth and development – a unique comprehensive approach to Whole-Person Wellness. We want to be a haven for children, teens, young adults and families.” – Lori Harmon, Executive Director of Equine Alliance Youth Foundation in Paso Robles, CA.
. . . and I’m sure that Lori’s neighbor who broke her elbow, will heal quickly with Lori in her life.
Equine Alliance Youth Foundation
A 501 (c) (3) Public Benefit Foundation
4610 Ross Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone 805-835-5104 Fax 805-226-8159
www.equinealliance.org E.I.N. 11-3770230
Additional Note: Kicking off the Equine Alliance Youth Foundation Open House at 10:00 on August 16th will be the band 7th Day. The band is comprised of the children of SLO Horse News Staff Writer, Sharon Jantzen.