Little Brook Farm - Where It's All About Second Chances

Friday, October 21, 2016
Oliver the horse - Old Chatham NY

Second chances.....Haven't we all needed them at least once in our lives? Today's post is about second chances, not  yours or mine, but second chances for the lives of animals who have been fortunate enough to find their way to Little Brook Farm.
Rescuing horses

Little Brook Farm is the epitome of second chances.  At Little Brook Farm, horses are rescued from neglect, abuse, or the threat of slaughter. These horses may have been retired thoroughbreds, wild mustangs captured during round-ups by the Bureau of Land Management, or they may be malnourished and locked in someone's barn stall and forgotten.  Whatever the story, it is at their 11th hour that Lynn Cross steps in, rescues, rehabs, and commits to provide life-long loving care. So this all sounds nice and kind and commendable but you have no idea just how huge of a commitment this is, but don't worry, I'm going to tell you!
Little Brook Farm - Biscuit

Located on 55 acres in Old Chatham, NY, Little Brook Farm is one of the oldest and largest rescue facilities in the country.  As a teenager, one of Lynn's mentors was the director of a humane society. Lynn was frequently invited to go along on cruelty or neglect complaints involving horses. It was then that she realized that inexperience and ignorance were the primary cause of neglect.  So affected by those experiences, Lynn has spent the rest of her life righting the wrongs of others and altering the fate of hundreds of horses and other animals too!
Little Brook Farm
When Lynn first moved to Old Chatham, she rented the farm from its owner, Elsie Powell, and began boarding, training and teaching.  She rescued her first horse when she was still a teenager.  Today, Little Brook Farm is currently providing care for 74 horses on her farm (which she was eventually able to buy in 1989), and on five other farms, and 26 more that are living in foster care.
Rescued Horse at Little Brook Farm

Aspen from Germany

Many of the horses living on the farm are over 20 years old, some over 30.  One horse on the farm, Clyde (below), spent his earlier life locked in a stall for 15 years with no contact with other horses.  The manure was piled so high, a ramp had to built in order to get him out of the stall. His feet were shaped like elf feet from his living conditions and lack of care.  Cornell recommended euthanizing Clyde, but Lynn brought him home and loved and cared him back to good health.  Here's Clyde today:
Sebastian, a Pinto

Little Brook Farm

Philotimo (Timo) upon rescue
Philotimo (Timo) now
Horses who come to Little Brook Farms are never sold.  Foster care providers have a strict agreement with Lynn that when they are no longer able to care for the horse, they must return it to Lynn's farm. Each horse rescued receives life-long care on the farm.
Equine rescue at Little Brook Farm
Timo and Jack

Angel at Little Brook Farm
Miranda Jane
Zandee & Angel
Sonny - 35 yr old standard bred race horse that used to pull a sulkie.
Amando and Valor
Two of the six mustangs rescued, Amado (L) Valor (r)

Little Brook Farm

Sybil and Arya (baby)

Crescent & Opal

View from the mountaintop property!  
After touring Lynn's farm, we had the opportunity to take a drive to some of the 5 other farms that generously provide space for 20+ of Little Brook Farm's horses and two donkeys.
Shiloh and Ash
Rescued and living at Little Brook Farm
 This beauty is Buddy.  Buddy is a 34 year old knabstupper from France.

Ironically, this is a foster care farm and although we didn't visit one today, I had just driven past a few days prior and took this photo (one of many I've taken in the past year!)
Everyday Lynn or members of her crew must travel to 5 off site farms, often twice a day to feed and water the horses, in addition to caring for ones on their own farm.  I thought you'd like to get a look at some of the roads Lynn needs to travel on to get to them:
Old Chatham NY
 Can you imagine driving on these in the winter?  No, me neither!
Besides rescuing horses, Lynn is very involved with feral cat projects.  That story is lengthy and impressive as well, too lengthy to include here, but if you're interested in that effort, you can read more about it on their Facebook page.  Cats, like horses, may arrive bedraggled and timid, but like the horses, it isn't long before they too are healthy and happy living life on the farm.  Every cat is spayed or neutered, vaccinated, treated for fleas, and wormed.   Judging from these kitties (just a few we met), life on the farm agrees with cats too.

And there's more.....2 dogs, 5 miniature horses and this truly adorable potbelly pig..........
Aside from taking in and caring for an army of beautiful equines, Little Brook Farm offers riding instruction, therapeutic riding, summer camps and BITS Education (Balanced Innovative Teaching Strategies).  I'll quote their explanation of BITS: "To advocate the humane treatment of all animals through rescue, sanctuary, and rehabilitation in conjunction with educational, vocational, and therapeutic programs.  We blend an innovative multifaceted approach that links the needs of rescue animals with the specific goals of our students".  BITS celebrated their 30th anniversary this year! By combining these all together, the horses are work partners and their jobs help support their care.
I watched a video today of a segment on Real Horse Rescue which featured Little Brook Farm.  It told the story of a class from Abraham Lansing Elementary School in Cohoes, NY which visited the farm.  On that video, Lynn told a story that so perfectly depicts the love and dedication that makes Little Brook Farm the special place it is. It seems that after several years of field trips to the farm, a school in Hudson had to curtail the tradition because budget cuts put an end to field trips.  Seeing Lynn's disappointment, Ted (Lynn's life partner of 17 years) as a Christmas present for Lynn, paid for the bus transportation for the kids to come that year.  That speaks volumes about the love that permeates the hearts of everyone who experiences Little Brook Farm, whether it's once a year or once a day.  One little girl, Isabel who'd been taking riding lessons at the farm decided that she wanted to raise money for her bat mitzvah to build an arena. She raised over $20,000.  Thanks to builder, Wes Coon, Herrington's Lumber and Ghent Wood products, the new arena is up.  Riding lessons are possible year-round now.

The barn at Little Brook is 125 years old and just the most magnificent structure.  At one time it was the venue for weddings and gatherings.  Carved into the wood are the initials of a girl who attended camp at the farm from 1943-1947, long before Lynn had the farm.  How special it is that children today still come to Little Brook Farm for summer camp where they make friends and develop an understanding and respect for the humane treatment of animals.
As we walked from paddock to paddock and I snapped photos, Lynn was quick to point out boards that were worn or leaning, apologizing and explaining that a particular task was next on the list but a horse needed surgery, leaving no money for that repair. It doesn't take an equine expert to see where the priorities lie here on the farm.  It doesn't take any sort of expert to feel the love and compassion that motivates every sore muscle, every tired human, every volunteer hand.  The priority is always the best care of the animal, the most compassionate choices, the most humane treatment of every living being on Little Brook Farm.  It's obvious when even the most novice of visitor looks at the shiny, clean coats, round middles, and bright eyes of every horse you meet that the health and well being of the animal is priority. Every horse you pass will walk from it's grazing spot, or it's resting spot, and come to greet you letting you stroke or nuzzle it's face..  These animals, all of whom came from terrible fates, some deplorable conditions, understand they are loved and valued - thanks to Lynn and all those who enable the farm to function on a daily basis.  Pristine barns and vinyl fencing may look pretty, but don't contribute to a horse's well being.  Love, good nutrition and a green pasture do and that's exactly what they get at Little Brook Farm.
Little Brook Farm is privately owned and receives no government funding.  They operate with the help of 50 volunteers, some like Jan, whom we met, works full time and volunteers on the farm 5 days a week.  Lynn's daughter, Summer Brennan, is their principle horse trainer and riding instructor.  Lynn's daughter Andria grew up on the farm and lives and works in Washington DC. Emily is Lynn's honorary granddaughter.  Emily has been helping on the farm since she was a small child.  She's now 8. The farm has two farriers (blacksmiths).  Each horse needs to be trimmed or re-shoed every 6-8 weeks.  All of this costs a lot and thanks to some very generous donors and sponsors, Little Brook Farm forges on.  One of our favorite local philanthropists, Michele Riggi, committed to the lifetime sponsorship of three of the horses on the farm!  If you love horses or are just blown away by the amazing work Lynn and her crew are doing, I hope you'll consider making a donation soon.  It's such a worthy cause with a 40 year history of continued success.
What takes place in the middle of the beautiful hamlet of Old Chatham NY is monumental, hands-on, labor of love, not just by Lynn or Summer, but by the combined efforts of every volunteer and contributor who believe in making animals lives matter.  It's not about fame, or numbers  - it's about saving lives, one animal at a time.  If you want to experience a bit of genuine compassion wrapped in humility, kindness, and profound respect for every living being - spend an hour with the special people and animals at Little Brook Farm.  At least watch these videos and you'll see what I mean.

You might be wondering how I came to meet Lynn and her amazing animals.  Well, blogging is funny thing and as I've said before, opens doors and introduces special people.  Earlier this week I received an email from a man who simply wrote, "Here's a place for you to visit.  Happy Trails" in the subject line of the email.  In the body of the email was a link to the Facebook page of Little Brook Farm. After some follow-up emails, Brian C. arranged with Lynn to have us visit and the rest, as they say, is history.  Let me also tell you that Brian is not a regular reader of my blog - he just happened upon it. Coincidence?  I think not.  God-incidence for sure!
For more information about Little Brook Farm or to read more about protecting the mustangs, links are provided below.  Thanks for reading.  Please share today's post with a horse lover you know!

1 comment

  1. Always told myself that if I ever won the lottery I would do something exactly like you folks are doing now. You are blessed to have the ability to carry out your life's work. We need more people like you


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