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Kentwood horse therapy farm says its "moving forward" after devastating fire

Picture of a Kentwood barn being sprayed down by the fire department
Nicole Zaagman
Equine Assisted Development

A Kentwood barn fire left nothing but broken remains behind of Equine Assisted Development, after barns caught flame on Wednesday evening.  The cause of the fire in uncertain at this time.

Nicole Zaagman, the organization's marketing strategist said the fire happened around 5pm. The horses housed at the facility were unharmed, but she said the rest of the facility was left in shambles.

"Everything is burned to the ground now. Everything that was inside the building is gone. The hay and the feeds for the horses, all the equipment” she explained.

Equine Assisted Development, a non-riding horse therapy farm, has been servicing the community from its location on 32nd street for the past five years. Many of the faith-based, non-profit's therapy clients have survived traumatic experiences, such as human trafficking. Zaagman said many of the horses are rescues and are often paired with individuals based on common experience.

"Some of them have a traumatic past, so we use the horses stories to connect with people who come for therapy," she explained, "Our kind of tagline is one life changed could change our community, and that’s exactly what we see at the farm. I’ve seen so many lives changes people who have been through unspeakable tragedy and trauma."

The organization worked to keep its doors open throughout the pandemic, offering free therapy sessions to frontline workers. Now, Zaagman said it's the community who are helping them, with many reaching out in support.

"I'm getting stories from people I didn't even know that were connected from the farm," Zaagman said, "...it's just been incredible to see the support."

Equine Assisted Development has set up a GoFundMe page which has received more than $7,800 dollars within two days. Its goal is to raise $25,000.