The Equine Relationship Therapy (ERT) Program at Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a unique component that allows students to learn practical and effective relationship skills. Students discover horsemanship skills, soft skills, communication skills, and more in order to grow and thrive.
As a partner with Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we invite you to invest in the success of teens in crisis by sponsoring a horse. Both one-time and monthly donations are welcome and exceedingly appreciated.
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is currently home to 17 unique horses. Read more about each of our horses and their personalities in the bio section below. The cost to feed and care for one of these horses is $1,150 per year. That is just over $95/month. As you get to know our horses, please consider a full or partial donation toward their sponsorship. Every gift, regardless of size, directly changes a teen’s life.
Instructions for giving: Click the “Donate” button next to your horse of choice or scroll to the Giving form at the bottom of this page.
Apona is a 25-year-old Appaloosa/cross mare and is Ms. Karla Embry’s childhood horse. Apona has a good work ethic – when the students put the effort in she repays it in her efforts. She’s a bit wild-eyed looking sometimes, do to the Appaloosa in her, but can be counted on to take care of her student.
Likes: Clear direction and being protected by her students, eating excessive amounts of grass, and jumping with Karla.
Dislikes: Being separated from her friend, Boon; other horses in her personal space if she feels uncared for by her students; her grazing muzzle.
Boon is a buckskin gelding and is the equine therapist, Ms. Vikki’s boy. He’s 12 years old. He holds the position of 2nd in command of the herd and is known to have several mare friends at a time. If he was a person he’d play football.
Likes: Playing with anything that he can get in his mouth and exasperating the students in an attempt to encourage them to try something different.
Dislikes: Having to actually put stuff down and practice deference to those annoying 2-legged horses.
Buddy is a chestnut gelding and the herd leader. He’s around 20 years old now and has been at the farm for many years. Buddy has excellent leadership qualities and delegates responsibility well.
Likes: Eating grass, playing head games with the students, and relaxing under the trees.
Dislikes: Empty feed bowls, not getting to come in the barn first, and working on hot days.
Falcon is a blood bay Arabian with a tad of Saddlebred in there. He is a 17yr old gelding. He came to us from an owner who could not ride anymore and wanted him to be used and loved. He’s a very accomplished, well-educated guy who feels it’s his duty to explain things to the students in Equus (horse speak). He’s picky and opinionated, but very sweet.
Likes: To be heard by his partner and asked to do things.
Dislikes: Incorrect cues, being disrespected, and bossed around. Falcon can be passive aggressive if his feelings are hurt.
Gracie is a 7-year-old American Saddlebred/Arabian chestnut mare and is the mother to Valor, our youngest herd member. Gracie is empathic and sensitive. She always tries her best with her students, but sometimes gets distracted by her own feelings and outside influences. She’s from out of town – Kentucky bred.
Likes: People and being right.
Dislikes: Not having things explained clearly and being the last to get her food.
Jack is a 20-year-old chestnut Quater Horse gelding who has the moves. Jack is inquisitive, very people oriented, and loves to show what he knows. He also likes to herd people like cattle if allowed. Although Jack is a sweet, reliable dude, he can get sassy if the boundaries are not clear and he feels unsafe.
Likes: Playing with his students and his horse friends like he’s a youngster and escaping any halter anytime he wants too.
Dislikes: Lack of clear direction and guidance from his students.
Jasper is a black Arabian/Paso Fino cross gelding around 13 years old, belonging to Ms. Jayne Wilson. His big brother (from another mother) is Levi. He is a clever little fellow, but sometimes lacks courage (which he relies on his students for). He’s a playful and sassy little dude.
Likes: Learning to do what he’s afraid of and being loved on.
Dislikes: Anything he feels he can’t do and, until recently, fly spray.
Levi is a golden bay Tennessee Walker. He’s a 10yr old gelding owned and beloved by Ms. Jayne Wilson. Levi is a bit bossy and can be hardheaded and a really good bluffer. He relies on those good looks to get him out of trouble with the students.
Likes: Scratches and being the center of attention.
Dislikes: Anything he can find to worry about.
Lizzie is a 12 yr old paint mare. She is a half-sister to Rocky. Lizzie was trained by a teenager who donated her to offer her a place that could invest more time in her and give Lizzie the opportunity to work with lots of students.
Likes: Taking time to view any challenge before doing it. She’s opinionated and does best with good directions.
Dislikes: Rough handling and people who don’t take their time with her.
Lucy is a 14-year-old Spotted Saddle Horse mare and she’s the bay and white one. Lucy is known for her aloofness and difficulty in getting to know her. She can be a drama queen and is usually the horse our true equestrian students end up with by God’s grace. Lucy responds in dramatic fashion to any student who is too aggressive with her and she prefers distancing herself rather than dealing with silly things.
Likes: Being thoroughly groomed and relaxing by the trees; “her girls.”
Dislikes: Being chased when it’s not needed and not being heard.
Pilot aka Pi
Pilot is a 7-year-old Halflinger. He is as sweet as the lemon meringue pie he resembles. He is also a new horse and as we learn more about him and his likes and dislikes we will update you!
Phoenix aka Tab
Phoenix (aka, Tabernacle) is an 18-year-old black bay Standardbred gelding. After his career as a harness racer was over, he found himself in a kill pen and was rescued by Herds of Hooves. He was donated this year and has been born yet again into a career as a therapy partner.
Likes: A good grooming – he appreciates a thoughtful student. He’s blind on one side due to an accident, but is proving this handicap is not an obstacle to his helping students in their relationships.
Dislikes: Narrow gates that make him think he’s racing.
Rocky is a 12-year-old sorrel and white paint gelding. He belongs to Ms. Alexa Embry and was born at Shepherds Hill Academy. His mother was palomino Sunny who, after helping many students, passed away. Rockstar is known for being a bit difficult if you don’t step up and make him think (hence the nickname Rockstar). He is an athlete and very capable of playing games with his students. Get a handle on Rocky and you have accomplished much.
Likes: Making you work for his respect and having you understand what he needs to feel safe in your relationship; excellent for teaching boundaries to those without.
Dislikes: Being told to do things; refraining from herding his students around like cattle.
Romeo is a black and white paint/Thoroughbred gelding. He is around 10 years old. Romeo is officially Ms. Vikki’s daughter’s horse. Romeo has a famous thoroughbred ancestor and is the most playful in the herd.
Likes: People, being scratched, and calm direct leadership.
Dislikes: Trailers, things he doesn’t understand, and, until recently, fly spray.
Roxanna is a 17-year-old Spotted Saddle Horse mare – she’s the black and white one. She is Dawn’s horse, who came back to her after the previous owner moved west. Roxanna is obedient and easy to connect with for the students. However, she will also show them that there’s a big difference in doing something because you have to, and doing something because you want to. She had a troubled youth herself as a young mare and became Dawn’s training project.
Likes: Having her needs met and being able to give you her head to hold.
Dislikes: She looks like she dislikes everything – that’s how she got the nickname, “Roxy Moxy Frowner.”
Tuscany (Tussy) is a black part Arabian mare around 18 years old. She was donated to our program after a career in the show ring and as a broodmare (mom mare). Tussy is equal parts attention and disinterest – if you aren’t interesting she’s not interested. She tries very hard to understand when her students put themselves out there and try themselves.
Likes: Praise and a good scratch; hanging out at the water cooler.
Dislikes: Doing all that non-show ring stuff for the first time and being scolded when she’s grumpy.
Valor is a part Arabian gelding. He is 3 years old and a golden bay color. Valor is Ms. Alexa Embry’s project horse and isn’t used in therapy yet. He was born on the farm to Mare Grace and his stepfather, Falcon, has helped raise him. A sassy, long-legged guy, he is self-assured and believes he’s the center of attention. He will pose for pictures and photobomb at any opportunity.
Likes: Being the center of attention.
Dislikes: Being away from his mama.
Zion is a 12 yr old; maybe older he doesn’t want to say. He is one of the newest horses and we are getting to know him. Stay tuned for updates on his likes and dislikes in the future.