Haley is 18 and an avid animal lover. At age 14, Haley was diagnosed with Auto-immune Polyarticular Juvenile Arthritis (JA). Haley’s immune system attacks her joints. JA causes pain, swollen joints, joint stiffness, severe fatigue, mobility issues, concentration and memory problems. The medications used to treat JA cause nausea, fatigue, headaches, low resistance to infections, and a host of other annoyances. Children with JA and other chronic illnesses face social issues like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation due to their disorder. Family members and peers often do not understand the day to day issues with chronic illness and pain. Animals give children with pain, anxiety and depression something that no medication or other treatment can match.
Haley has searched for a way to incorporate her passion and love for animals and her desire to serve God into one path.
Animals became a therapeutic outlet for Haley early on in her diagnosis and treatment. Horses have been an important focus in her life and became even more so after her diagnosis. Haley has always planned a career involving horses and is motivated to provide an equine rescue service for this area of our state.
Haley struggles daily to keep herself healthy and to accomplish as much as she can. Horses provide an outlet for her stress, a source of her joy and accomplishments, and a supply of unconditional love and acceptance available at any time. Haley began taking lessons and competing in hunter/jumper events a few years ago and is very involved in the training of her Missouri Fox Trotter gelding. Haley has learned from her trainer and other professionals and is passionate about her future career as an equine specialist.
Haley’s dream, HERO Barn, would rescue kill pen horses, rehabilitate them and adopt them out to forever homes. HERO Barn would involve chronically ill children and children with anxiety and depression in the process by using therapeutic riding, social media, web cameras, live videos, and on-site barn visits. HERO Barn would be a place for other children to experience what Haley has with her horses. A place for children to interact with animals and feel the unconditional love and acceptance they offer.
Planning your future while you are in pain and struggling with a chronic illness or anxiety/depression is a daunting task. HERO Barn would give children a chance to be inspired by recovering horses, volunteers or service providers (farriers, trainers, veterinarians, etc.), a mascot and maybe even Haley herself. HERO Barn's barn cats, barn dog, mascot mini horse and a few rescue small animals would also be available on barn visits to cuddle, snuggle, and love. Research has shown how beneficial animals are in the treatment of pain, anxiety and depression. Volunteer positions would focus on the teen age group and provide a great place to earn Community Service hours for high school or college or juvenile offenders.
If you see Haley around, don't hesitate to ask her questions or share your own story.
Jag was Haley's first horse. He only had eyes for her, and was a once in a lifetime horse. He died in April 2018 at age 22 from a medical condition called choke.