Hope for Hooves aims to connect animals to people and provide therapy

·3 min read

Dec. 1—Until several years ago, North Augusta resident Michelle Derrick didn't know how much rescuing animals would change her life.

After a difficult battle with breast cancer, Derrick quit her job, rescued a donkey named Cora, and set out to create a nonprofit organization to save abused or rescued animals.

"After I purchased the donkey, I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and long story short, the donkey actually spoke to me and they have the ability to communicate with you. She told me, everything is going to be just fine, you are going to be ok," Derrick said.

Hope for Hooves, an organization dedicated to animal assisted therapy located at 45 Van Road, was started by Derrick in 2020.

The organization works to connect anyone to animals and peace of the outdoors.

"We take them in and we love them back to health, and some of the animals that have been abused, we teach them that not all humans are bad. So we regain their trust and we use them for riding lessons and we also use them for horse therapy, animal assisted therapy," Derrick said.

On the farm, in Edgefield County, are several donkeys, mules, miniature ponies, pigs, horses and ducks. Visitors get a chance to meet the animals and a Hope for Hooves employee that has been through animal assisted therapy and work up to riding them in weekly therapy sessions.

Derrick, in the short time she has had the rescue, has seen a change in her life and in those that come out to the farm.

"Oh that means everything to me because I know that my calling is to bring change and to allow these people to experience the freedom that they've never known," Derrick said.

"Most of them are actually autistic that come out here, but we do have some women as well as children that have been rescued from human trafficking so you can imagine their backgrounds, their pasts, their histories, and to just watch them to be able to come out here and its like, they forget and its like a whole other world out here and so its just for a moment, that period of time that they are out here, they are able to focus on being healed and being free rather than dwelling on what has happened to them so that is our ultimate goal is to help them get set free from some of the past hurts and pains that they have experienced," Derrick continued.

Hope for Hooves currently offers pony parties, riding lessons, farm tours, photography sessions and more.

Derrick recently started a Reading with Rescues program, a place for children to practice reading without the fear of public speaking to a large audience.

"Kids can come out and adults as well and what they would do is literally read to the horses and the ponies," Derrick explained. "We've done it on the smaller scale with little kids and it's amazing because if you are having trouble reading and you don't want to read in front of a classroom full of your peers because you are afraid that they are going to make fun of you, but when they come out here, there is absolutely no judgement whatsoever."

Derrick hopes that the farm makes a positive impact in people's lives, with hopes to expand in the future.

"There is something about this place, not just Hope for Hooves but something about this property," Derrick said. "God is doing miracles is what he is doing."

To learn more about how to volunteer with Hope for Hooves or to donate, visit the organization's website.

Samantha Winn covers the city of North Augusta, with a focus on government and community oriented business. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews.

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