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Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals, Children & Youth, Youth Centers & Clubs, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Our rescue, located on 60 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, focuses on the plight of injured sport horses. Many of our donated horses come from top level competitors from all over the United States in their respective disciplines. For whatever reason, they are no longer able to compete at their previous level due to an injury or mental issue. They are donated to our farm, evaluated by a vet, farrier, and farm manager and a rehabilitation plan is devised and carried out by a group of volunteers. Once the horse has recovered, it is placed for free with a lifetime free lease in an appropriate home. Many of our horses are able to go back to their original jobs. We support the United States Pony Club members and 4-H members by providing them with well-trained horses, allowing the children with talent and financial difficulties to be able to compete at the national level. We also provide shelter for abused, neglected, and aged horses for the community when needed. Our farm provides clinics and programs for the local community, We also provide college internships for college credit in equine studies.

Target demographics: unwanted horses and at risk youth

Direct beneficiaries per year: a total of 26 youth participants, including 4 with learning disabilities, 1 visually impaired, 1 with diabetes, 2 mentally challenged, 3 disadvantaged, 1 Autistic, 2 abused, 3 in trouble with the law, 8 with confidence issues stemming from bullying, and 1 with Anorexia were served

Geographic areas served: Forest, VA

Programs: United Neigh. The National Education Association’s Twelve Point Plan for Reducing the School Dropout Rate pinpoints “community-based, real-world learning experiences for students” and involvement in small after school groups as a key factor in increasing the rate of high school graduation. Serving Lynchburg City and the counties of Amherst, Campbell, and Bedford, each member is responsible to come to the farm two days a week year round to care for their program horse. Members follow a program that instills self-confidence, a strong sense of personal responsibility, recognition of the value of teamwork, and real-life workplace skills. This is accomplished through a bond of trust with a horse whose background is, too often, just as painful as their own.

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first found Brook Hill with the intent of volunteering to help with the horses in any way I could but soon found out about the other amazing programs they offer. Soon I was part of the Adult Sponsorship Program and was taking lessons once a week to improve my horsemanship skills and confidence. I have learned more through that program during the last few months, than I had during prior lessons I took at my home. Not only am I learning to ride again...I am learning how to ride properly and my confidence level has been steadily growing...as is my knowledge and experience. Eventually I also became involved with the United Neigh program and began volunteering every Friday. It didn't ake long for me to see how valuable this program is...not just for the horses but for the amazing girls that are a part of it. I absolutely love my time with them and originally started volunteering because I wanted to help in any way that I could...but they have given me more than I ever thought possible. I have been blessed to watch these girls rally together as a team and for a short time put the outside world and its problems aside, and care for their horses with an enthusiasm and joy that only a true bond can bring. Jo Anne Miller, one of the Executive Directors has a talent for matching the right horse to the right girl and I have witnessed first hand the healing power in that connection between each girl and her horse. I would encourage anyone to check Brook Hill Retirement Center out if you are thinking about volunteering or looking for a worthwhile cause to donate to. Many lives are being changed daily and I am thrilled to be a small part of that :)))

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brook Hill Farm is not only a great place for horses, but for teenage girls. Brook Hill Farm is by far the best place my daughter has ever been to learn about horses. She not only gets to ride, but learns how to work hard and take care of the horses. My daughter has epilepsy and has fought some stigma because of this in other places, but not here. Brook Hill Farm is her second home, the place she loves to be. She is given responsibility and is valued. The girls here have a reputation of knowing what they are talking about according to the local equine store. Brook Hill Farm also has college interns. One of these girls (a math major) has been tutoring my daughter in math and has made a big difference. This has been one of the best experiences in my daughter's life. She can train to whatever level she wants to here, but most importantly, she can be herself.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our experience is truly "helping horses, helps people!" My daughter struggles in school because of vision difficulties and dyslexia. Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses has changed how my daughter feels about herself. The non-judgemental environment is refreshing. The "pitch in a do" attitude is contagious. Brook Hill has made a difference not only in her life, but in our whole family because what she experiences doesn't just stay on the farm but goes out into the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brookhill is a place where I have had a great volunteer experience! As a complete novice with grooming horses, I have had fun learning about and working with the horses. I also enjoy being among teens, adults, dogs, and cats there. It is such a sweet, loving atmosphere.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am one of the teenage volunteers, a member of bBrook Hill Farm's "United Neigh" program. I have been a volunteer for more than three years. I love the horses, activities and all the other volunteers....they have become like an extended family to me. I started there when I was 12 , doing chores and helping to groom horses. Now I ride horses and am part of the 4 H group and pony club that are included in the activities for the teen volunteers. JoAnne and Tracy work hard and put in lots of hours to make this a wonderful program and help many many teens and horses.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brook Hill not only Helps Horses, But helps people. They are the most caring bunch I have ever known. Seeing those girls come to the barn from broken places, and watching them heal with their horse is one of the greatest pleasures in life. No one can come to Brook Hill and leave the same person!

Maureen Penny H.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have the honor if being on the board at Brook Hill Farm, but also have the great pleasure of teaching riding lessons to the young people in the United Neigh Program. This program quite simply changes lives, both horse and human. As a Board Member, I can vouch for the well-thought out and executed business plan, which is so vital to ensure the continued health of the farm. As an instructor, I get to see the progress made by the youth in the program, and as an adopter, I'm so grateful that Brook Hill Farm exists. This really is an exceptional place, and it's a joy and a great privilege to be involved.

Echo R.

Donor

Rating: 4

In the past, I've worked in the horse industry for years; training, riding, teaching, caring and owning of horses. I've never seen anything like this program. It's an extremely expensive hobby/livelihood but it isn't about the cost... like we always said, it's a labor of love.

Review from JustGive

Marylynn H.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been an adult volunteer at Brook Hill Farm for more than 2 years now. I had been an active horsewoman all through my 20s and 30s, then took a haitus to raise my family. Upon returning to horses 20 years later, I searched my local region for a place I could fit into. I was thrilled to find that Brook Hill Farm was nearby, and from the first visit there, I knew that they had something very special going on. Sometimes you see horror stories of horse rescues that start out with good intentions, but for financial and other reasons, the horses end up sometimes worse off than when they arrived. This is NOT the case at Brook Hill Farm. Organized from the very beginning with a solid plan, dedicated professionals at the helm, the blessing of adequate land, and loving & committed volunteers, Brook Hill has managed to place over 350 horses in new homes in little more than a decade of operation. But that's not the end of it! Here, they also run a number of community programs that benefit people, too! for starters, there's the United Neigh Program, which helps teens, some of which have disabilities or troubled home lives, gain love and acceptance, while learning responsibility caring for their "own" horse. These kids absolutely thrive in this environment! There's also the College Intern Program, where Brook Hill partners with many of our local colleges providing students with on-the-job training in the fields of pre-med, pre-vet, and sociology, among other majors. Brook Hill is also PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Certified, meaning that some of our professionals are certified to train disabled children. The list of credits goes on an on, but one of the best things that Brook Hill does is that they heal and help horses. We get many "throw-away" horses - ones that burn-out or physically break down, and their owners just don't want to care for them anymore. Through our team of seasoned professionals - the Director, Veterinarians, Board of Directors, Farrier, and other Therapists, each horse is evaluated and a care plan is customized for the physical rehabilitation and mental restoration of that horse. As long as it takes, each horse gets the time that he/she needs to return to a useful like if at all possible. Along the way, the volunteers and interns give the horse all the love, attention, & exercise it requires to thrive. The horses, many of whom have had hard-working or tough lives prior to arriving here, get to relax and just be a horse again, in beautiful rolling pasture, in a herd where they can graze freely and move about unconfined. And when they are ready, and only then, they are offered for adoption into carefully screened new homes. Brook Hill Farm is Nationally recognized, but the need for financial support is great. We do an awesome job with the resources we have, but we have outgrown the facilities and desperately need to expand the structures. We currently have 38 horses, but the barn only has seven stalls. The horses that need to be fed grain daily are fed in rotation, and this puts a lot of labor stress on the volunteers. We are fundraising to build a larger barn and indoor arena which will put us inthe position of being able to help more horses and serve the community better. I am only a volunteer here - I am NOT receiving any kind of payment for this review - so these are my honest reflections: Brook Hill Farm is a wonderful place doing wonderful things for both the kids and the horses. Their income is derived solely from donations and grants. PLEASE, please, please consider them in your charitable giving! We are good stewards of every penny, and we are grateful for all gifts received, both large and small! Check out our website at www.brookhillfarm.org, and please help us! Thank you so much!

Lisa95

Board Member

Rating: 5

Brook Hill Farm was founded to provide rehabilitation focused therapy and a safe haven for unwanted horses. However, along the way, they discovered the magic combination of horses and children; how they help teens that are economically disadvantaged, disabled and abused find their way. This program is a great success for the teens and the horses. They have rescued over 387 horses and have a 100% graduation rate for the teens that participate in their United Neigh Program. Not only that, they are a great presence in our community offering youth and adults equine education and a chance to participate in their programs or volunteer. This program has changed the lives of many teens in this area, and have saved the lives of even more horses.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"It's all about the horses." That's the byword at BrookHill. With that being the common denominator, volunteers and members of all ages work together to care for each horse and also ride together, all in an atmosphere of friendship and common purpose. Leaders are well-qualified and willingly teach and share their knowledge about riding and horse health. Seeing a damaged animal grow healthy again is heartwarming to all; seeing an old, once-unwanted horse live out the rest of his days in a peaceful, stress-free field of grass gives great comfort to all who see. Watching a young would-be rider learn to groom and care for a horse and begin to gain confidence in her/his abilities both as a horseman and as a young woman or young man is very gratifying for an "older volunteer" such as I. Yet I feel as much a part of the group as if I, too, were young. You see, it's all about the horses.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My relationship with Brook Hill Farm began six years ago when I adopted the most wonderful horse. Gem was a magnificent creature and a very special friend to me. He gave me many hours of blissful companionship at a time in my life when I was overwhelmed by the grief of losing my brother. To express my gratitude and give back to the organization, I volunteer as a horseback riding instructor. I have watched the children improve their social skills and academic standings as well as their riding abilities. It has been a tremendously gratifying experience for me to see the direct impact that sharing my knowlege and love of horses has had on these youths. I am very proud of all their accomplishments.

Jennifer103

Board Member

Rating: 5

I started here as a Volunteer from college and the love and support I found made me want to be at the barn 24-7, and the staff embraced me as part of the family at Brookhill. Everyone is committed to helping at risk youth and the horses that find there way to the farm; I can't think of a better place to serve. They accept every horse, child, and worker for who they are, and provide a safe environment to heal and grow. I have stayed with Brookhill as an intern and a board member. Once i stepped onto Brookhill soil, I became a Brookhill girl for life. I came to the farm from a past of torment and found peace. Thank God for the blessing of Brookhill farm! -jls

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Brook Hill Farm. I needed to find something else to do in my life that was personal to me. I found a course at CVCC, local community college, called "Horses Are Fun". I was the only student registered and JoAnne Miller kept the class open for just me. I knew nothing about horses, she and Tracy have given me an experience beyond all I could have ever thought to receive from the course. They have answered every question I've had. They've been extremely patient and tolerant of my "horse" ignorance. After the course was over, I continued to volunteer and now I give monthly to this wonderful and worthy cause. Jo and Tracy have created a loving learning environment for college interns, at risk youth(with United Neigh), and horse lovers, new and experienced. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived here for my class 5 months ago but what I have found is a place I love to be. The horses are beautiful and cared for like children, they return any affection you give to them ten-fold. Much is needed here on a daily basis and long term, such as a larger barn, classroom and indoor training facility. I wish I had more time and money to give to this wonderful program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I met the folks at Brook Hill Farm through a mutual friend. After an introduction and orientation I decided that this was the place for me. Kids all moved away from home, and I had been a stay-at-home mom for 25 years it was time to get to do something I always had a passion for. July 2009 was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. What started out as a once a week visit to volunteer (shovel manure) turned into joining the United Neigh Program where I had my own horse to care for and ride. Then I became the cook in addition to riding. Later, I was asked to join the Board of Directors ( I had never served on a committee before) then over time I worked my way up to volunteering with the horse rehab program and now as of Fall of 2011 am Chairman of the Board! All as a volunteer. This rescue farm puts these unwanted horses first. Nothing goes undone. Each horse (we currently have 35 horses) is given special attention, and love from our youth, adults, college interns, and volunteers. We have a veterinarian and other professionals who assist us in planning a rehab program for those horses that need it. Not only do we rehabilitate horses but Brook Hill Farm rehabilitates people, too. I am speaking of at-risk youth who are in our United Neigh Program. The kids are between the ages of 12-18 and along with volunteering their time after school hours each has the responsibility of caring for a horse. We have 12 girls that I have had the good fortune to get to know and mentor since I've been volunteering. Our mission is not only getting unwanted horses moving without pain but teaching our girls responsibility, educating them on caring for these animals and they in turn are giving back to their community. Our horses are given a second chance in life when they come to Brook Hill and most are free leased to families after their time spent in rehabilitation. This organization is run like a well oiled machine and I am so lucky to be associated with it. I now volunteer 5 afternoons a week and could share so much more. Am happy to get to share my personal experience for this campaign. Leslie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brook Hill Farm is not only an excellent horse rescue and rehabilitation facility it is also a wonderful place for teenagers to work with horses, experience great personal growth ,learn a work ethic and develop a lifelong love for horses. As an adult volunteer with a daughter in their United Neigh program I feel privileged to have my daughter involved in their comprehensive program. My daughter, who is home schooled has found a place where she can develop her social skills, improve her riding abilities and learn a compassion for horses that need help. She participates in barn chores and has responsibilities to work with her assigned horse in his rehabilitation program. She has learned that hard work and patience are rewarded. The skills she is learning will be of value and carry over to any proffesion she chooses in the future. As for myself, I was fearful of horses due to experiences with them as a teenager and now credit Brook Hill Farm for giving me the opportunity to develop a bond with a very special TB. At 57 I have decided to learn to ride and taking their advice have taken on a highly trained horse that had injuries forcing his retirement from jumping. Being a green rider I have been privileged to learn to ride on a master! Ultimately the brook Hill Farm family not only helps the horses....they help the people too! Regards, Sandra

Client Served

Rating: 5

I donated my horse to Brook Hill this year after exploring and exhausting all other options that might allow him to live a useful life. After going through the application process and flying down to Virginia to see them in action it is clear to me they are very good at what they do. The horses are well cared for, and the work they do with disadvantaged youth is a wonderful way to teach children responsibility and empathy. I am thankful and relieved that my horse has the potential to be rehomed and live a useful life. I am MORE thankful and relieved that should he not hold up to the rigors of work he will always have a safe home with people who care about him.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brook Hill does a lot with very little. Since its inception, over 360 horses have found new homes. It runs a program that not only benefits the horses, but helps local youth develop responsibility, compassion, and accountability in addition to learning riding skills. All these horses are "throw-aways", meaning that their owners didn't or couldn't care for them anymore. All were given a second chance at a new life, the alternative being auctions- most of which end up in slaughter. We rehabilitate these horses from their physical or mental impairments, giving them the rest or retraining they need to lead new productive lives with gentleness and love. The facilities are woefully outgrown to support the average 35 +/- horses at any given time. We are trying to raise funds for a new facility which we desperately need. Please check out the Brook Hill website at www.brookhillfarm.org to learn more and help.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My experience with Brook Hill Farm has been multi-tiered. I first discovered them in the midst of a personal "horse search".I knew from the beginning that my “next” horse would be a rescue of some kind. I knew of the tragedies within the racing industry; and the effect the economy had on thousands of once-wealthy “horsey” families. I knew that the number of horses brought to slaughter through the U.S. is in the high six-figures, and I knew how many amazing animals are left to fend for themselves due to their owner's finances or lack of concern. If money, land and time were un-ending, I would have a farm full of horses who need a second chance.

Lucky for me - and for hundreds of four-legged souls - there is a farm full of horses who need, and receive, a second chance. One email exchange and a three hour drive later and I found myself at Brook Hill Farm in VA, looking at a big gray mare with a deep, dark eye named Lorelei.

Horses have always been, and will always be, a part of my life. I am a big believer in the horse-human relationship, and my belief has been further strengthened the more I have learned about the United Neigh program at Brook Hill Farm. Over the last year that I have stayed in touch with BHF, I have had the pleasure of meeting the girls who are part of the UN program; to see them care for “their horses” and to hear their stories of how they have grown as individuals since coming to BHF; to see those girls, helping horses with broken hearts, all the while repairing their own, unknowingly. Each of those girls will be a role model for some other little “horse girl” in the future, and will be amazing, beautiful women who contribute positively to society. It's a humbling and inspiring program to be a part of, and I hope to spend even more time with them in the future.

Since the start of my relationship with Lorelei and BHF, my passion for programs like United Neigh has truly been re-ignited. (Yet another thing I can thank that big gray mare for.)

One might say that, by adopting through BHF, I have made a difference in the life of a horse. But the truth is that Lorelei, and the people I met who surrounded her, have made a bigger difference in mine.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Wonderful organization! The farm does rehabilitation and rescue as well as providing a wonderful youth program. The free lease for life program has been very successful and there are lots of happy horse owners out there thanks to Brook Hill!