WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – There’s a place in Middle Tennessee unlike most. It’s a farm with rescue animals and also children, and they compliment each other in a way that’s both educational and therapeutic.
At Hickory Hill Farm in Wilson County, rescue horses are utilized in a reading program with children.
Certain settings cultivate these young voices, and the spirit within their stories. The farm is the backdrop for how it all works.
“It’s very, very relaxing and calming out here,” explained Shea Hutsenpiller, Hickory Hill Rescue Director.
Inside the environment at the Lebanon farm, is another story waiting to be told. The kids are the characters and the horses also play a starring role.
“Horses have a great spirit about them and a freedom,” said Assistant Camp Director, Jenna Gibbons. “And that freedom lets children be themselves.”
The 10 animals at Hickory Hill are all rescues. As they’re rehabilitated, the horses are paired with a teacher and child. It makes for a free place to learn, and read out loud, plus it soothes the horse.
There’s a combination of both gentleness and acceptance, explained Hutsenpiller.
“We’ll see a side of the horses we haven’t seen before,” she said. “They come out of their shell a little bit.”
The intimacy of the idea provides the same thing for young readers. This practice builds confidence, behind the book and in front of the animal.
“We are meant to serve animals and people, and we think that is pretty powerful,” said Gibbons.
That’s the goal and vision of Hickory Hill and it’s what they discover on a daily basis.
“I see peace, peace and happiness,” Gibbons said. “That’s what we’re meant to do at Hickory Hill Farm.”
Hickory Hill is a nonprofit and is funded 100 percent by donations.
Volunteers are also involved in local reading programs and songwriting workshops for children. They’re currently accepting registrations for summer camp.
Click here for more information on Hickory Hill Farm.