Transitions EAAT – A Ministry Years In the Making
In 2010 Lonnie and Dawn Honeycutt began 99 for 1 Ministries, Inc. and became a federally registered non-profit (501 (c) 3) that helped thousands of people in the Alabama, Mississippi and Florida areas who needed food, clothing and other necessities. Over the years many organizations sprung up to minister to these same people so it was a natural progression that the husband and wife team began become more specific in their ministry.
Prayerfully they sought to find a common denominator that would allow them to both narrow their focus while also maximizing the impact of their limited resources. Dawn Honeycutt remembers how they were already living out the obvious choice for the direction of their ministry:
“Since birth my husband has lived with several physical limitations including heart and immune system issues and ADHD and, when our two children were born, Asperger’s (a form of Autism), anxiety and OCD also became part of our lives. Then, in 2007 Lonnie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer of the Head and Neck and, the following February (after having undergone surgery, chemo and radiation therapies – which left him further impaired) he had a hypoxic/anoxic event that left him with an irreparable brain injury. To say the least, our life was stressful. The one aspect of our lives that allowed everyone to work together and forget about the trials of daily life was… horses.
The integration of our ministry with that of horse therapy for people had begun several years before though we never really considered it a ministry per se. Instead, it was something we did in our spare time – granted there wasn’t much of that. Months prior to the beginning of Transitions EAAT I’d begun giving lessons to kids and adults and Lonnie, who had never been much of an outdoors person, quickly gravitated to the life of a farm hand. We put the idea forth to our children as well as a few close friends and, in a very short period of time, with a grand hope but few resources, we registered Transitions EAAT as a DBA (under the umbrella of our original organization) and our horse ministry was born.”
Transitions EAAT Becomes a Reality
Dawn was already acting as the lead trainer at an established barn (Mobile Equestrian Center – located at 700 Eliza Jordan Road North in Mobile, Alabama) so their was no need to find or build a new facility. And, having over 40 years of experience working with horses, children, adults and military veterans (most of whom had needs beyond what conventional therapy can help with) it was only natural for her to gravitate towards equine therapy (horse therapy for people).
By researching data provided by the National Census, Mobile County School Systems and Goodwill Easterseals it was confirmed that in Mobile County alone:
4,456 school aged children with disabilities would potentially benefit from Equine Therapy.
2265+ military veterans have a disability and could potentially benefit from Equine Therapy.
41,200+ persons under 65 have a disability and would potentially benefit from Equine Therapy.
It was crystal clear, Transitions EAAT was needed. The goal would be to work with people, regardless of their initial ability, their special need or their experience with horses, so that they come away with a sense of physical accomplishment, hope and awe of what God has made for everyone to enjoy.
Where We Are Today…
As of August 29th, 2019 we’ve helped hundreds of people learn more about themselves by allowing them to work with the stars of our program – our horses.
The Transitions EAAT program is designed so that we can work one-on-one with individuals (within the parameters of their cognitive, emotional and physical needs) who want schooling in traditional dressage, therapeutic riding or equine-assisted therapies. In other words, we meet people where they are and help them move forward so they can do more than they ever dreamed.
We’ve grown from having one or two clients a week to having as many as 10 a day when it’s not too hot. Everyone knows that the Gulf Coast is known for record breaking temperatures. Shade is worth gold and we’ve got plenty of it. The Mobile Equestrian Center has the ONLY FULLY COVERED but breeze-friendly regulation-sized arena in a tri-county area.
We work with military veterans (our heroes), children and adults from practically every background and ethnicity around. Those with different religious affiliations or no religious affinity whatsoever are welcome here but, as an organization that is based on the person and principles of Jesus Christ, we always strive to present ourselves in such a way that He would be proud. Above all, Grace is taught and practiced.
(Click on any of the photos below to bring up a slightly larger version.)
…Where We Want To be
Transitions has a seen a LOT of changes (going from a single horse that can be used in our program to over a dozen) and we’re looking forward to experiencing more!
Training Future Instructors
Dawn Honeycutt, is not only a certified instructor with PATH INTL. she’s also a certified trainer – this means she’s certified to train others to become PATH INTL. certified instructors. Her goal is to help train 100 new instructors in the next 5 years. Achieving this goal means that she’ll have to structure her time so new trainees can be focused on. Fortunately, her method of training other instructors is done with hands-on, real world activities that include horsemanship and working with new clients, novice riders and those who can only do ground work.
Expanding Our Capacity to Care for Others
Equine Therapy doesn’t always mean ‘riding a horse.’ Horses are SO empathetic that just being around them can be therapeutic. In order to have those clients who either aren’t mentally ready to mount a steed or who are physically incapable of doing so still be able to engage in therapy – while also having those who are more advanced to be able to walk, trot, canter and jump (among other things) – we need land… LOTS of land. Not just open acreage. We need acreage that has been fenced (we don’t want any of our stars wandering off) and cleared of potential hazards and that has an abundance of nutritious grass – horses munch most of their waking hours.
Another aspect of being able to care for others is having a facility that enables those who come here to be comfortable and for the caretakers feel welcomed and loved. We’re hoping to be able to build two different Tack rooms (where our clients get all the gear they need to put on their horse and to clean them) and sensory trails – these trails are wonderful for those who have sensory issues because, once they are comfortable with the horses we help them learn how to navigate their world by introducing different amounts of stimuli.
Cottages for Caretakers
Speaking of caretakers, we’d like to have enough acreage to build a minimum of four ‘cottages’ on the property. One cottage will serve as a community room and a dining facility while the other three cottages will be provided to those who live out of town and have family members who have special needs. Caretakers are often unsung heroes who operate in a constant state of stress. We want to take care of the caretakers by providing them an opportunity to relax and even go on short jaunts around our wonderful area while also providing their family members (our clients) with world class equine therapy. Our goal is the have the cottages air conditioned, fully plumbed and wired for television, internet and refrigeration.
More Program Horses
An individual horse can only be ‘worked’ 2 hours a day. The reason is simple: just like you and I get tired when we are engaged in mental and physical exercise so do horses. Also, since our clients come in all different shapes and sizes we MUST have a wide variety of horses. For instance, a short 800 pound pony (which is a small horse not a baby horse) can only carry a smaller person whereas a 1900 pound horse that is tall and filled out can carry a much larger person.
Each program horse HAS TO HAVE his or her own ‘bedroom’ (called a stall). Just like you feel more comfortable in your own bed and being around folks you know at night… so do horses. Their bedroom is where they are fed yummy horse food and supplement, given access to water and where we can visit them to make certain they are in good health and spirits. Our horses are like children – they are lovable creatures but they have to be watched over carefully because, despite their size, they are fragile.
What’s Needed to Make This Happen
- Dawn will need to be at the barn full-time. As it is she works a full-time job to earn money she and her family put into the barn because they feel it’s that important. So, donations will have to increase (See: How Much Does a Horse Cost)
- The Mobile Equestrian Center needs to be fully owned by Transitions EAAT – currently we are leasing the property ($4250 a month) on a note of $500,000.
- A Farm Manager needs to be hired.
- 40 acres (minimum) needs to be found near our main farm.
- Volunteers (lots and lots) must be found.
- Money (PLENTY of money needs to be raised).
- Connections with those who can donate materials to build, farm machinery to maintain the grounds must be made.
- And lots more!
If you would like to make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE contribution to the needs above please click on the donate button below:
or send a check to:
700 Eliza Jordan Road North
Mobile, AL 36608