Alternative Equine Lifestyles

It takes a special type of person to turn away from society’s norms and work to change the world for the better. It’s very easy and comfortable to live a life within traditional expectations, gender roles, following the rules, and keep your questioning to yourself. It can be difficult, painful, and rather isolating to step outside that box, even if it’s for the better. I believe this barn became the ethical, forward-thinking, animal care facility it is because it’s run by those people who have walked outside normality. I am proud to be a part of such a beautiful group of humans and animals.

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Our farm is run by and for those people who live on the edges of society, living within bubbles of different sub-cultures and working as activists in their own niche. We have kids, teens, and adults who vary in every way possible, but maintain a sense of belonging here on this farm. At our barn we listen to metal music, we decorate like hippies, study behavior like total nerds, and work like rugged athletes. Our farm family includes people from a wide variety of sub-cultures, including those who live with mental health issues, who have survived trauma, who have trouble getting along with humans, who are non-binary, or are on the spectrum, people who were bullied, teased, or make unusual fashion statements, the artists, musicians, and eccentric geniuses. These people who have lived outside the norm have learned to fight for what’s important (their identity, their mental health, the place in the world, their passions…) and often they use their found strength to defend the bullied, broken, and forgotten. A term I love for people like this is “Survivor Heroes”, these are people who have survived a difficulty, overcome a challenge, and turned their story around and become a hero.

The people have created an environment of safety and understanding to other like them and to the rescued horses who they can relate with. Maybe because there is a need, that it is filled by the people strong enough to handle the burden, brave enough to try something new, and open-minded enough to keep asking for better ways. Our barn works to teach and promote an unconventional approach to animal care and handling, using positive reinforcement, science-based training, and force-free, fear-free methods of training and working with our animals. This is extremely new to domestic animals, though zoos and marine mammal parks have been studying these kinder options for a few decades. This is turning the horse world on it’s head, confronting tradition, and questioning previously held beliefs. This is exceptionally hard for most people who have grown up in the horse-world. But those of us who live within a sub-culture have learned how to stand up for what is right over what is traditional, normal, or easy. Always with kindness, acceptance, and understanding as our goal.

Our horses and humans can relate in a unique way and become anchors for one-another. They understand being bullied, being isolated, afraid for their safety, misunderstood, manipulated, and controlled. Because of this empathy they know why we chose to stand against the standard and fight for change within the equine community to find kinder ways when possible. To try to work with horses in a way that empowers them and makes their differences their virtue instead of their challenge. These people have found a voice, and use it to speak for those without one. These people have felt kindness and acceptance when it is scarce, and know how important it is to provide where they can. They become the heroes these animals need, not just as care-takers and trainers, but as an empathizing individual, someone who can support them.