LOWELL, Mich. — The Barn for Equine Learning near Lowell continues to grow after it was set on fire and 13 horses were killed in 2017.
Almost three years later, they are busy working with at-risk youth, kids in foster care and much more.
The longtime West Michigan staple now has a fundraiser set for some of its smallest horses and they could use your help.
Kat Heggen, who serves as the executive director, said many of the small horses had to be placed elsewhere after the fatal fire.
You might remember, it was back in April 2017, a man intentionally set the barn on fire, killing 13 horses inside.
"I wasn't ready to take on horses, but the people knew around me that I knew the horses," said Heggen. "They needed a place to be loved up."
Kat gave them a loving home, but the horses gave her and others who worked at the barn a sense of therapy and a chance to heal. It's something the organization provides for others on a daily basis.
"It really helped my healing and a lot of the volunteers and the clients we worked with to come out and to be with the minis," Heggen said.
Now, the smallest of their horses are staples of their programming, along with 10 full sized horses. All of them help clients with their unique mental health situations.
Barn manager, Taylor Bazen, knows equine therapy works and said she has seen it first hand.
"This place, being such a safe place for so many people," said Bazen. "It's something that makes it special. Because that's not the case everywhere else. Even if that means them just coming up and putting their head in your chest, that can, that has a way of centering people, and they just know what you need without speaking."
On Saturday, February 15, the Learning Barn for Equine Learning, will host a special fundraiser to raise money for the horses. Organizers say it's a chance for the public to play with and brush the ponies, enjoy sweet treats and raise money for the barn and horses. Heggen said the event wouldn't be possible without the support of their sponsors: Amy Vissman, Keller Williams, Tracy Thompson and The Family Therapy Place.
To learn more about the Loving up the Minis event click here.
If you're interested in volunteering, you can visit the barn from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays to visit the barn and find the right role for you. Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Barn of Equine Learning.