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Horse therapy center looks to rebuild after fire destroys barn

A Kent County barn which housed Equine Assisted Development facilities, a non-riding horse therapy center, was engulfed in flames on Wednesday but the horses are unharmed.

Workers at the organization say they’re pushing forward.

The fire left the horse therapy center devastated, along with the community it served.

“Our tagline is one life changed could change our community and that’s exactly what we see at the farm,” Nicole Zaagman, marketing strategist for Equine Assisted Development, said.

Zaagman said her Wednesday had started out like any other.

“I headed out to run some errands and I got a call from a friend,” she said.

But news quickly spread that sent worry through her mind.

“She said I think the barns are on fire,” Zaagman explained. “Everything is burned to the ground now, everything that was inside the building is gone. Thankfully [the] horses are unharmed".

The facility has worked in the community to help a variety of individuals, many who survived traumatic experiences such as sex trafficking, find a way forward. They do this by partnering them with horses, many of which are rescues. Zaagman said she herself found help through the program, before stepping on as the group’s Marketing Strategist.

“It brought me hope and a reason to look forward to in the midst of the difficulty I was going through," Zaagman said. “I’ve seen so many lives changes people who have been through unspeakable tragedy and trauma".

The facility, like many, has worked to stay open during the pandemic, offering free therapy sessions to frontline workers. Zaagman, says now the focus is on rebuilding, so Equine Assisted Development can continue its services.