Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles featuring some of the Wilson County nonprofits that benefit from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s annual The Big Payback, which will be May 5-6 this year.
Lantern Lane Farm, a non-profit counseling center in western Wilson County near Rural Hill, started in 2004, when co-founders Ralph and Joni Cook felt compelled to work alongside a variety of clients including families, children, and couples.
“The farm setting and atmosphere for us provides a safe haven for people who come and visit our place,” said co-founder and CEO Ralph Cook.
“There are many times we have our clients who say ‘I can breathe now. I feel so comfortable here,’ and so it begins to break down the internal barriers they put up when it comes to therapy.”
The horses at Lantern Lane Farm are the heart of operation. There are Tennessee Walking Horses Dolly, Apostrophy, Lady, and Buckie; miniature horses Jet, Harley, Oreo, and Shadow; and even two donkeys, Donkey-Boy and Johnnie-Boy. The animals are used in equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning.
Cook said the horses work with children and adults are a powerful tool in helping people recover.
The facility has been raising money to cover the arena, which Cook said would broaden their ability to use the horses during bad weather.
“We are still short on completing this goal though,” said Cook.
Other needs include a picnic pavilion, which Cook said would make it easier to operate during the pandemic.
He said he has noticed an influx of clients with issues relating to stress, anxiety, and relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To illustrate the power of equine therapy, Cook tells the story of a former soldier who sought help for PTSD.
The man, upon haring his story, went straight to Dolly and spent time with her.
“This helped him have some self-calming as he felt her breathing and her heart beating, bringing him back to a place of peace,” said Cook.