Safe Harbor to debut outdoor arena at Breeds of the World

Posted on April 11, 2017

Safe Harbor to debut outdoor arena at Breeds of the World

, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 11:22 a.m. CT April 7, 2017 | Updated 12:40 p.m. CT April 7, 2017

 Safe Harbor Equine and Livestock Sanctuary hosts an awareness event called Breeds of the World, with horse demonstrations, a petting zoo, rides in a buggy owned by George Jones and more. Wochit
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Country legend George Jones was a horse lover.

And Cottontown-based Safe Harbor Equine and Livestock Sanctuary will host rides in his old horse buggy in its upcoming Breeds of the World open house event on April 22.

“It’s a nice little piece of history,” said Executive Director Sariah Hopkins. “It’ll be a Standardbred ex-race horse pulling the buggy.”

In conjunction with ASPCA’s Help A Horse Day, families can ride the buggy, see a variety of breeds of horses — many of which are up for adoption, pet pygmy goats and miniature donkeys and horses, and even meet the steer, Stewie, in a kissing booth.

Volunteers will show and tell the stories of rescue horses from Arabian to Dutch Warmblood to Gypsy Vanner breeds and beyond.

“This year, we wanted to make the horses really front and center and showcase the versatility of horses that come through the rescue,” Hopkins said.

The festival kicks off with the grand opening of Safe Harbor’s new outdoor arena, which will allow for more training, fundraisers and other services at the site.

With the new arena, Safe Harbor can also expand its therapy programs for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and children in the foster care system through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) model.

Although the organization is a horse and livestock rescue at its core, helping people through a love of animals is another central piece of its mission.

“EAGALA is a really beneficial therapy format for kids in foster care, but it’s not typically covered by insurance,” Hopkins said. “We’re looking into that as a way we can help contribute as a public service charity and make that more affordable and accessible for kids in foster care.”

At Breeds of the World, horse demonstrations will take place in the 100-by-200 foot arena, funded by the Rogers Group with contributions by the Gallatin Lowe’s.

At dusk, attendees can participate in a memorial Chinese lantern release for pets who have passed away.

At four years old, Safe Harbor is the largest horse rescue in the state, Hopkins said, placing roughly 125 horses a year with 140 volunteers. The organization is completely volunteer-run.

With this awareness event, Hopkins hopes to share a love of the animals and a sense of camaraderie.

“It’s a safe harbor for all,” Hopkins said. “Not just animals  people, too.”

Reach reporter Jen Todd at 615-575-7143, jtodd1@gannett.com or on Twitter @jentoddwrites.

If you go

What: Breeds of the World Open House

When: noon-7:30 p.m. April 22

Where: Safe Harbor’s Training Center, 3585 Hwy 76 in Cottontown

Tickets: Free, extra charges for individual activities

Details: www.safeharborsanctuary.org, 615-997-0697