Saturday, April 1, 2017

Untethered, Unfettered, Free



"In riding a horse, we borrow freedom."
~ Helen Thompson

Hyacinths, Standing up to Cold Winds

The wind blows, and it’s chilly today, like an April Fool’s joke on spring. The purple hyacinths along our walk disregard that insolence, though, and stand upright, resilient despite their fragile appearance.
We at Jacob’s Fund haven’t packed away our winter gear; we’ve seen snow in April.  Our plan to escape the Ohio Valley’s uncertain spring weather? We are heading to McKenna Farms!
We have made several April trips to the farm therapy center in Dallas, Georgia, often with mission teams. Our work teams have painted, stained, mulched, planted shrubs and flowers, curried horses and dug ditches. We’ve also gotten to know the children for whom Jacob’s Fund provides financial support for hippotherapy. We’ve met with the staff, therapists, and volunteers who work together for the benefit of children with developmental impairments.


Volunteer Leading a Horse from the Barn to the Paddock 

From the early arrival of volunteers who feed and prepare the horses for the day’s activities to the sun’s last glint behind Georgia pines, McKenna Farms throbs with activity. Brothers and sisters of children who’ve come for therapy play on the porch and the playground. Volunteers lead horses from the barn to children to begin a hippotherapy or therapeutic riding session. Tires crunch the gravel drive, signaling the arrival of more children. A lawn mower hums in a distant corner of the farm. Horses graze, their flanks gleaming in the sun.
We who have spent nights in sleeping bags in the hay loft above the barn know McKenna Farms after the sun has gone down.  In April, nights are still cool. After dark, conversation becomes subdued. Our bodies are tired, and the soft blanket of night that falls in gentle folds around the paddocks beckons.
It is then that we remember our purpose. What are these busy days about?  
The children, of course. The farm has fences and a barn to keep horses in, of course. But it is, in fact, a place of freedom for these children, who are hemmed in by the things they cannot do. 


 Isabella

 Jonah

 
 Christopher

 On a horse, they move through space in that way children love, with the fresh April breeze flowing between the horse’s ears onto their faces. Their muscles and nerves, stimulated by the horse’s movement, are taking them ever closer to moving, speaking, and living fully.

In the Barn for the Night

We fall asleep quickly on these trips, in the loft above the barn, with windows open. Perhaps we’ll wake briefly when one of the horses below us whinnies.  It’s a reassuring sound, and brings to mind again the children who sit astride them during busy days. We’re glad we can be a part of this. We’re eager to return.
 
If you would like to visit McKenna Farms, either as part of a work team or just to experience a day at this therapy center farm, please contact us at jacobbeachyfund@gmail.com. 
We hope you will consider making a donation to Jacob’s Fund. Our address is: 1630 Tipperary Drive, Middletown, Ohio 45042.

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