With over 30 years of horse experience, Meg Vanderbilt knew that she wanted to combine her love of horses with her desire to help those in need. She began Bit of Hope in 2007, to help hurting children by allowing them to find hope and healing through a relationship with a horse. Their mission is to Reach, Rescue and Restore hurting children, families and horses by offering nature based and complete equine therapy wellness and educational programs.
“The horses that are at the farm are on their second or third job,” says Meg. “Some have been neglected and abandoned, some have been physically or emotionally abused, some needed a different type of job physically or mentally.” The fact that all of these horses come with a story is beneficial for the work that they do here. “Children can often identify with these physical or emotional scars that the horses present,” Meg says.
The horses at Bit of Hope are fed a forage-based diet, consisting primarily of hay and beet pulp, with grain to fill any nutritional gaps. “Chiropractors, supplements and lastly pharmaceuticals are brought in as needed,” explains Meg. All of the horses are kept outdoors in appropriate herd sizes, allowing them to move around and be social at their leisure. As Meg states, “this helps prevent or heal lameness, as well as reduce stress.”
Each of the horses at Bit of Hope is trained using natural horsemanship methods based on forming relationships. They focus on building trust, respect and responsiveness which translate into their work helping visitors at the facility. Children that come for sessions work with a licensed professional, an equine specialist, and a horse. “The horses use their natural instincts to assist with counseling or their big gaits to help riders build strength,” says Meg.
It is extraordinary to see the transformations the horses undergo, like Doc, who arrived as a rescue. “When he came to the Ranch, you could count every vertebrae and rib through his matted winter coat. He acted terrified in the arena and had scars from an ill-fitting saddle and spurs,” remembers Meg. “His physical body healed quicker than his mind. Hours of retraining taught him how to relax and accept a rider. Now he is a favorite with clients,” says Meg.
Doc’s struggle is something that many of the clients at Bit of Hope can relate to in their own way. His joy after adversity is also something that they can carry with them as a reminder through their own journey. “He still gets emotional at mealtimes by playing and rattling his food tub,” says Meg.
Please use the information below to find out how you can contribute to Bit of Hope’s mission, to help both the horses and the children that find their way here. You can donate funds or as Meg puts it, “we are always needing similar-minded horsey volunteers.”
Bit of Hope Ranch
Gaston County, North Carolina
If you are interested in loaning or donating your horse trailer to this particular organization, then check out details of our Horse Trailer Donation and Sharing Program here. Then, post your comments below to help out!
Also, learn more about horse rescues in these two articles: