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"I first contacted Jennifer Semach in November 2015 after reading an article in our local Highlander newspaper. I was a new resident to Haliburton Highlands and I was thrilled to read about her commitment of rescuing animals and her dream to develop a program that allows these rescue animals to assist people with an assortment of physical and mental disabilities including depression, high sensory needs, anxiety and behavioral issues. I was excited by the concept of a non-medical approach to helping individuals with disabilities and trauma through animal / human bonding. It is quite incredible.
I immediately wanted to volunteer and help out in any way that I could, so I reached out to Jennifer. I met with Jennifer and her new rescue horse Chewbacca who is an ambassador of Walkabout Farm Therapeutic Riding Assocation Inc. She had only had Chewbacca a few days and I could see he had been abused as he was very anxious and apprehensive and not trusting of humans. I could relate to how he felt as I had been abused as a child and the fears are quite the same. I have PTSD and openly shared that with Jennifer as I felt a sense of trust and safety with her right from the start, so you see I am not surprised by her ability to transform this horse. She has empathy, respect and willingness to help others.
I witnessed the love and compassion that was seeping out of the pores of Jennifer and it didn't take long for her to build trust with this amazing animal. I followed her progress with Chewbacca and I had no doubt that this woman could and would transform this emotionally shut down fearful animal. I can see how they now have a mutual love and respect for each other. I am impressed with Jennifer's determination, compassion, love and a deep respect for animals and humans alike, she is extremely conscious of the health and safety of all her participants as well as the volunteers. Jennifer's daughter Courtney is also a huge support with the horses and participants, she has a gift when working with animals.
There is no greater pleasure than seeing the smiles on the faces of the participants when they are supported and encouraged. The look of pride on the face of someone that has just faced a fear through teamwork, respect and trust is absolutely priceless. The benefits from the programs offered both for the participants and volunteers are endless. They range from improving balance, posture and coordination, trust, self confidence, self discipline, increase one's love and respect for animals, learning how to care for an animal, following directions, a chance for new experiences and having fun to name a few. I would highly recommend Walkabout Farm Therapeutic Riding Association Inc to anyone. I was recently talking to a 91 year old about Walkabout Farm and she asked if she may be able to visit with the horses as she used to ride in her younger years. Who knows... giving and receiving love has no age limits" --- L. Evans (Volunteer)
"We moved to the Haliburton area 6 months ago with our 3 kids, 2 of whom have cognitive disabilities. We were concerned that there wasn't anything extracurricular that they could participate in. However, a few different people raved to us about Walkabout Farm. When we met Jennifer, she really cared about how the kids learn and respond, and how she could give them the best experience therapeutically to suit their needs. She treated them with respect and as friends - no judgment - from the beginning. Best of all, the kids are learning new skills, being out in nature, and feeling great about themselves. They also both feel like they have a special relationship with their horse. As parents we're thrilled at their achievements, and couldn't have found a better suited environment for our two opposite personalities." --- B. Clark (Parent)
"Walkabout Farm Therapeutic Riding Association Inc. provides a much-needed service in our community for individuals who have been traumatized or who have extra challenges in their lives. Jennifer has enormous empathy and her incredibly positive approach has really helped my daughter build better self esteem and confidence. Jennifer provides a safe and inclusive environment with some pretty amazing animals. I am so grateful that she is able to offer her wonderful work!" --- T. Burton (Parent)
I have sat and tried to write this review of Walkabout Farm a few times now, but keep coming up short. How do you adequately review an organization that changed your child's life.
My daughter was diagnosed with BPD in 2015, in her short 17 years there has been many hospitalizations, medications and attempts at therapy, with BPD you see the world as black / white all good or all bad and unfortunately for T, the local resources were / are severely lacking when it came to counselling options. We did try to use our local youth service but after 3 different therapists in a short 6 month span of time, it was obvious that continuity was severely lacking.
In my quest to find someone who would stay, as well as push T to do more, I came across Jen. I was hesitant in the first meeting as Jen is very outspoken and strong, not someone T could easily manipulate, so from experience, someone I thought T would refuse to see her. To my complete surprise T decided to give it a try. Jen was / is the change that T needed in her life, someone who made her own up to her shortfalls but celebrated every victory small or big. Giving T the ability to connect with her in any way T needed no matter the time. Under Jen's guidance at the farm, my young suicidal daughter flourished, she gained confidence, courage and strength. She learned how to speak her mind, and stand for what she believed in, even if she was standing alone.
After the suicide of a local youth, Jen was the person who was available at any time to encourage, support and just be there, anytime T needed it, whether a day at the barn or a day at the tobogganing hill, or a reassuring text, to validate whatever it was T was thinking. When I came to Jen recently with concerns regarding my youngest daughter B, Jen not only offered the use of her services once again, but she is always willing to adjust to my time schedule. And did an amazing job of reassuring me and my mothers guilt, that I am not only a good mom, but doing everything in my power to help my children.
There does not seem to be enough words to adequately describe Jen, and our experience with Walkabout Farm, but I will honestly say I am not sure where my family would be without it."
--- Sincerely, Breann N.
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