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Hope lives here

Horses of Hope and Heroes & Horses plans move to new property

PHOTO PROVIDED Above, an older participant of the program rides a horse. Below, members of the Heroes & Horses group pose for a photo.

MACKEYVILLE — The non-profit Horses of Hope, Inc. and its veterans program Heroes & Horses is about to make a lot of horses happy.

The organization is expanding to a new 27 acre location, generously donated by Robert Maguire, in Woolrich.

This not only provides 15 full acres of pasture space for participants, instructors and the horses, but plenty of space to create trails and additional buildings, run-in sheds and more.

“We were stunned when Maguire donated the land,” Laurie Flanagan, executive director, said.

The organization moved to its current location in 2014. It is owned by Kyle and Susan Johnston. This location provided space for both Horses of Hope and Heroes & Horses.

PHOTO PROVIDED This is the land that will eventually become the forever home of Horses of Hope and the veterans program, Heroes & Horses in Woolrich.

“They have been so gratuitous for all of these years,” Flanagan said. “They have helped us grow, very accommodating. We have thrived here. And now we want to grow bigger. It is going to be hard for us to leave them but it is important for us to have our own property, it is the next step for us.”

She added that this new property will offer a lot of stability for not only the organization and their program but also the instructors and board members involved.

Flanagan also said that the goal for 2020 was to create this stability but to also be consistent and eventually open an indoor arena for lessons and the Heroes and Horses.

Anne Gibson, board member, said that a couple of the run-in sheds and an organization building will be moved to the new property, thanks to the generosity of the Clinton County Community Foundation, but there will still be a lot of work that needs to be done including building fencing for the pastures, barns, and more.

“It is raw land,” Vickie Hancock, program director for Horses of Hope and program coordinator for Heroes and Horses, said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Horses of Hope participant Natalie is pictured with one of the horses.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” Gibson added.

Flanagan also said that they received a $65,000 grant from The Hamer Foundation for this project.

“It will help with the costs for all of the environmental things we have to do,” she said. “Other costs, getting the land ready, the water, the electricity. It is going to be very beneficial.”

The organization is working with McTish, Kunkel and Associates to work on sketches for the property.

“We have a great team helping us,” Hancock said.

The organization also did many fundraisers at the top of the year, but had to back off due to the ongoing pandemic. The organization itself had to shut down between March and June due to COVID-19 as well.

Donations that come in will not only help the organization as they continue their endeavor to move their property, but also to help pay for supplies for the horses and for instructors.

The goal is to be open and ready for lessons in the summer of 2021.

Though they have had many supplies, services and more donated to the organization, the women also noted that they can always use donations to their organization on their website, www.horsesofhope.org.

Since 2009, Horses of Hope instructors and volunteers, spends time with individuals with special abilities, groom and even ride the horses. Another program of theirs, Heroes and Horses, meets every other Saturday and brings together veterans with hands-on grooming, riding as well as discussion and lunch.

Their oldest veteran this year is 91 years old.

The organization has approximately 66 total participants.

“The horses are like the teacher,” Hancock said.

The Clinton County United Way also helps the organization by sponsoring them and providing funding for lessons that participants might not be able to afford.

“We do not turn people away,” Flanagan also added. “We make it possible.”

Horses of Hope, Inc. is always looking for volunteers to help feed and take care of horses, work with participants and more.

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