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Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue: People helping horses heal people

July 6, 2015
Two months ago Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue moved into the former Pegasus Thoroughbred Farm a few miles south of Dover Plains. The organization, founded by Deanna Mancuso, rescues horses who have been abused, starved or neglected. After rehabilitating them, LOHR pairs them with people who are handicapped or who suffer from such issues as autism, depression, anxiety, or PTSD among other problems. The organization not only provides a safe haven for these wonderful animals but works to improve the relationship between horses and people, especially children. 
LOHR’s 48 horses range from thoroughbreds, to warm bloods to minis. Some come off the track, others from rodeos or neglectful even cruel owners. The organization will accept only horses that have a problem such as the off the track thoroughbred,  Livingston Appeal, who shattered his knee the first time he raced as a three year old.  He is now a therapy horse for a 16 year old girl who lost both ankles and feet when she was eight. Together they help each other.
Grooming Windy teaches Karina Arelt how to look after a horse - photo by Pat Ike
The story of Lucky Horse Rescue begins with Deanna Mancuso whose grandfather gave her a horse to remember him by shortly before dying of cancer. Nitro, as the horse was called, had been abused and was so difficult to ride that Deanna and her father set about rehabilitating him.  Now 20 years later Nitro is here at Lucky Orphans; her own children have ridden him.
After working in several stables around Millbrook, in 2003 Deanna started a horse boarding business of her own. In 2008 she closed that business and started a non profit rescue program. Ever since high school she says, “I have wanted to take what I know and love – horses - to help the community.”   When she discovered Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) she realized it was the answer to her concept of helping people with a variety or struggles with horses.
Layla Finley learns how to braid Mocha's mane - photo by Pat Ike
Founded in 1999, EAGALA uses equine assisted therapy to address mental health and developmental needs in people. It is a team effort. Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue has a licensed therapist who works with an equine specialist and a team of horses to help their clients. It is an experiential alternative to talk therapy that, because of its intensity, clients are significantly improved typically in a matter of eight weeks. 
The horses, who are both sensitive and non-judgmental, are the key to their success. LOHR’s alpha mare, for example, can tell if a client has been abused. She will position herself between that person and other horses and people to keep the client safe. She shows no interest in someone who has not suffered abuse.
Deanna believes in serendipity. Robert Trump and Ann Marie Pallan who live across from her old stable on Chestnut Ridge became interested in Deanna’s work. When it became obvious that in order to obtain grants one had to own not rent a facility, Trump generously donated the down payment to purchase the 42 acre farm in Dover. 
Layla and Dalton Finley are supervised by volunteer,April - photo by Pat Ike
Although much of the work is done by volunteers, keeping almost 50 horses still takes money. There is also the mortgage to pay. To support their rescued horses LOHR, which has a 501(C)3 status, is actively seeking grants, gifts, bequests and donations to support their efforts. 
There is no question that Lucky Horse Rescue repays in kind. Besides working with individual clients they also collaborate with such organizations as Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation, Astor Services and local schools. In addition they provide business for the local people who contribute their services, who supply their hay and feed, for the vet, and for the farrier. 
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