What We Do
River’s Edge Haven of Hope is a farm-based Christian organization that welcomes anyone who desires to come and experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ and be encouraged to grow spiritually, mentally, socially and physically.
River’s Edge Haven of Hope endeavours to offer a unique natural environment for people of all ages and walks of life to discover and grow in their journey with Jesus Christ through authentic mentoring relationships (Vision Statement).
Together, mentor and youth will explore the farm and all the different activity options available. This can include: Horsemanship, Crafts, Woodworking, Outdoor adventures and Gardening.
A strong foundation for friendship is created by sharing fun experiences together as well as working side by side. Each session is tailored to meet the needs and desires of each individual child, which also includes a small chore that communicates the value of serving others. It is our hope that each child will experience the source of that love, Jesus Christ.
What is Play?
At River’s Edge we are not just about horses (although that is what draws many people to our farm!). We are creating a space for children and youth to be children and youth by inviting them to play. Many children and youth are not exposed to the simple wonder and joy of frolicking in the woods catching sunbeams, having the space to play hide and go seek in a large barn, or have access to creating a birdhouse using power tools with an experienced adult. At Rivers Edge we do our best to create place where kids can be kids, using their imaginations, exploring, inventing, making messes, and learning from natural consequences. Play is an integral part of learning, encouraging the development of physical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills. Play helps a child grow in creativity, critical thinking, self-awareness, and decision making skills. Play pushes a child past comfort levels and teaches a child confidence to face a risk and overcome challenges and fears. At River’s Edge we desire to come alongside and join in the play of a child or youth to teach, guide, and encourage confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and self-discovery.
Horses are highly social and like humans, have unique personalities, likes/dislikes and moods. They have defined roles within their herd and in most cases would rather be with their peers. An approach that works with one horse may not work with another. Horses do not have the same social bias and judgments that we as humans bring to our interactions. Therefore, horses engage with humans in relationships without prejudice. Horses allow us to be curious about ourselves, without feeling vulnerable. Horses communicate non-verbally. As such, the client’s body language is what the horses react to. Clients often learn that in order to change the behaviour of the horse, they must first change their own behaviour. This process allows the clients to become more aware of their bodies and to take responsibility for their actions as well as observing natural consequences.
Working with horses therapeutically is known to help build confidence as well as intrapersonal skills such as communication, self-awareness, leadership, and emotional regulation. Horses respond to our emotions because they are prey animals and therefore have a higher awareness of the senses and environment around them. The horse can read a person and respond accordingly, making them incredible teachers.
Equine Assisted Mentoring
Horses have been created by God with a unique ability to read human emotions and behaviour. To change a horse’s response to you, you must be aware of your own behaviour towards the horse. This gets participants to think, reflect and take responsibility for their own bodies and emotional projections. Through this window, the mentor can walk alongside participants and work on various interpersonal attributes. This allows for opportunities to discuss challenges in life and ultimately point the participant to Jesus Christ and His redeeming work!
Some of the ways horses can facilitate healing is by working on these attributes during various activities. Below are some ways horse work can be used to discuss how God works in our lives.
Trust is something that takes time to build and is something that is earned. In time, the horse learns to trust the participant and gives the participant a feeling of worth and belongingness. The horse and participant develop a relationship based on respect. The horse trusts the participant to lead in a certain way and seeks guidance from the participant. Similarly, we learn to trust in the LORD completely and unlike others in our life, He never disappoints.
Working through different scenarios/games with the horses, we learn about our different roles and how to work together in our families and others in our life
|Overcoming Life’s Obstacles|
There are many activities such as obstacle courses that you can do with the horses. We are given obstacles to go to the LORD for help. God uses others in our life to work through challenges.
We need to learn how to communicate with friends/family and with God. Horses teach us to effectively communicate using body language and non-verbal cues. Learning different ways to interact with different people is a skill. We can consider ways to communicate to God, and how He speaks to us through His word.
The horse requires confidence and a firm hand to allow the participant to lead. The horse will teach the participant how to be assertive and have confidence. God requires us to take ownership of our lives and have confidence in our faith in Him.
There are many different ways to tackle problems, some are more obvious than others. God provides us various ways of working through our difficulties, we need to seek guidance from Him for help.
The participant develops a love for the horses as their relationship develops. Part of the relationship is also showing love in return. To love and to feel love is important as we know that God shows compassion on us as sinners in demonstrating His unconditional love for us.
“When a participant walks through the door, they come with their own set of gifts, challenges and fears. Every participant is different but all experience daily challenges that affect their lives in a positive or negative way. As children and adults work through their everyday challenges, it can be helpful to have someone walk beside them in order to show them the positive experience of trusting and building relationships with people. We can then use this opportunity to discuss God’s existence and love for us in our lives..“