Taking The Lead, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by a dedicated board of directors who understand how trained animals can encourage and motivate patients. Animal-assisted therapy allows clients to meet their goals and gain independence, success, and confidence in a unique way.
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Video of the animals that make magic happen at Timberbrook Farm!
Charlie is a 10-year-old Haflinger gelding. Charlie was initially rescued by River Valley Ranch (RVR) with his brother and two other ponies. At first, Charlie was quite mischievous and startled easily. But when our lead occupational therapist, Chelsea Whitaker, started working at RVR in high school, she and Charlie developed a special bond. Several years later at Timberbrook Farm, Charlie is a sound and quiet horse that doesn’t spook at anything! He is used in all of our horse programs and Chelsea has even trained him to be an irish dancing horse during our horse shows.
Sgt. Exelon (“Sarge”)
Birth Date: September 11, 2021
Sarge absolutely loves people and ended up with us following a six-plus month search of almost 270 horses who were older but did not have the right personality for therapy work, unlike Sarge. He was “number 052” at an auction. He came from Amish stock and was bullied by the other horses so much that he was not thriving in that environment, so he was sent to auction. His tail had already been docked, in anticipation of him pulling Amish farm equipment. Nobody wanted him and he was returned to a buyer who purchases the auction throwbacks and tries to find them homes. Chelsea met Sarge and fell in love with his personality.
Fun facts: Sarge is currently being trained by military members through TTL’s Heroes & Horses program. We have high hopes for our new addition!
Strengths: He is big, dopey, and personable. He is learning the basics of training in bootcamp and building up his confidence around large crowds and big noises.
George is a 24-year-old Haflinger gelding. Based on the little we know about George from before he was rescued, he could have been used by he Amish. George has become one of the stars of our program and can be trusted with almost any rider. He is a favorite among our clients due to his sweet personality, his long mane and tail, and his calm, quiet demeanor.
Shae is a 15-year-old Tennessee Walker mare who belongs to friends of Taking the Lead, Inc. She came to TTL after being rescued from an auction. At the auction, she was in such an emaciated state that the vet was worried she wouldn’t survive. Since being rescued, Shae has made a full recovery has become part of our program. Shae’s size and smooth gait make her a great candidate for our larger riders.
Piper is a 14-year-old Paint mare. She was originally rescued at a slaughterhouse. The scars on her body shed some light into her dark past. Although we don’t know all the details of Piper’s history, we can tell that she was handled roughly. But despite her past, Piper has a willing disposition and a comfortable walk, trot, and canter. At Taking the Lead, Inc., she has been rehabilitated and learned to fully trust humans again.
Meet Doc, he is our Timberbrook baby meaning he was born actually on our farm in 2016. Exactly one year before the Whitaker;s acquired the farm with the sole purpose to change lives, who knew they would change his. It seemed as fate that Doc was brought back home to us, as Doc was bought and sold twice, not being a good fit for his previous owners. Chelsea found Doc while searching for a tractor on the internet. When she finally got a one on one with Doc she did some natural horsemanship on site and knew Doc would fit right into the mission and plan she had for the farm, and she was right! Doc excelled with horsemanship training and is currently in Chelsa’s opinion the most handsome horse on the farm.
Fun fact: Doc loves to roll in the dirt and he is currently learning how to dance his own two steps!
Wrangler is a trained and finished service dog. She helps individuals who have trouble with balance, sensory overload, self regulation, impulse control, etc. to be safe and more independent during occupational therapy sessions. We use her to help determine whether our clients can benefit from a service dog. Wrangler’s large size and thick coat help students in our vocational program learn to handle and groom large, thick coated breeds of dogs.
Glitter is a product of Taking The Lead, Inc.’s partnership with BARC’s Working Cat Program to take in feral, unadoptable cats. Our clients and volunteers socialize these cats with the goal of making them adoptable. Some of our cats even learn tricks with our vocational program clients. Glitter was unsuitable to be a family pet when she first came to our farm and was lucky to have a second chance here. But it turns out that we are the lucky ones! Glitter is one of our superstars who helps motivate our clients during their therapy sessions. Come tour our farm to see how Glitter has learned to sit, hunt, give paw, and go through our cat agility course.
If you think this is a typical bunny, think again. Bolt lives with our two service dogs and Bolt is in charge! He is litter trained and trick trained to jump through a hoop and do a variety of other tricks. Bolt can jump onto a kitchen counter from the floor. He has quickly become a crowd favorite!
Birthdate: (10 yr)
Breed: Mouse was donated to TTL by Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (“BARCS”) as part of their barn cat placement program. Originally hoping for a foster-to-forever home, Mouse was placed for adoption but later returned to BARCS and then back to TTL. It turns out he likes to find the highest points in a room (the hayloft in the barns), or drop ceilings in homes, and was not too interested in human bonding. We were happy to welcome him back, and he now serves as Deputy Mouser under Glitter. He is more aloof than Glitter and very choosy about which humans he will spend time with. So, if he approaches you, you should definitely consider yourself as one of his select few crew!