By Sandra Meyer

Jennie Sloan of RJ Farms in Lithia is combining her love of horses with her respect and dedication to veterans with a new grass roots program she has started on her farm. 

Sloan has been a horse owner and advocate for over 25 years. She leases a 20 acre property to board previously feral and abused mustangs that can no longer be returned to the wild and works with them until they become gentled. Many of the horses come to her angry but eventually learn to trust.

Sloan has family members in the military who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and after watching the horses she rescued learn to trust her, she realized that many veterans were just like the horses she was training. Many military personnel come back from deployments with feelings of anger, confusion and disconnection, so Sloan has offered to team up veterans with a horse to teach the same type of trust and connection to them.

“Horses are magical creatures, who in their presence, make us better people. They forgive our shortcomings and do not care the color of our skin, the language we speak, or the God we pray to. They are obedient and tolerant and ask nothing but fair and kind treatment. We would all do well to ‘listen’ to what horses have to teach us,” Sloan said.

Sloan is asking the community, especially anyone with non-profit experience, to reach out to her and help get the veteran program spread out to the public. She wants to help veterans learn to soften and trust after multiple or especially traumatic deployments. She also needs volunteers at the stables as well as monthly sponsors for the abused or abandoned horses she boards. A sponsorship entails donating $175 for a mustang which pays for food and boarding. The sponsor then becomes “owner” for the month and can visit the horse at the stable.

In addition, RJ Farms is offering a summer camp from Monday, June 23 through Friday, June 27 from 8 a.m.–2 p.m. for $175.

For more information on the camp, or any of the volunteer efforts needed, call 463-3298 or visit RJ Farms is located at 3525 Powerline Rd. in Lithia.

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