SOUL Harbour Ranch A Little Slice of Heaven

In this video, #Fun4thedisabled’s Vanessa Harris explains the importance of Soul Harbour Ranch for individuals with disabilities and the surrounding community. Soul Harbour Ranch is a place where people with disabilities can go to be involved with the community by having the opportunity to get involved with some of their offsite events, have access to therapy horses, and gain a sense of confidence through the love and care that is shared amongst each other. Enjoy the video to learn more!


This is Vanessa Harris, with fun4thedisabled.com, coming atcha from Chicago, Illinois.  I am here with my friend, Stella the giraffe, to talk to you about a wonderful place called the Soul Harbour Ranch.

Fun4thedisabled:  Soul Harbour Ranch, located in Barrington, Illinois is a paradise where miniature horses and donkeys are  transformed into unicorns.  Soul Harbour Ranch provides animal therapy for the disabled, veterans, schools, libraries and many community events in Illinois.

SOUL is an acronym for Sharing of Unconditional Love.  The ranch is considered a Harbour for peace and tranquility.  They have been providing animal therapy since 2013.  The Soul Harbour Ranch began operating in  2018 and they plan to extend a welcome to visitors at the ranch starting in 2019.

Jodie Diegel, founder and president of Soul Harbour Ranch, invited me to visit Soul Harbour Ranch and it is an amazing place.  I got to meet each of the therapy miniature donkeys and horses and also saw her full size horses and her therapy dogs.   Jodie has been an experienced dog handler for therapy for most of her life.  She is also an accomplished horsewoman who owned and rode two full size horses. Jodie was inspired to buy miniature horses and start an equine therapy program in 2011 when she saw an ad for mini therapy horses.  Her vision of “bringing a little Heaven to those in need” soon became a reality.

Soul Harbour Ranch has three therapy dogs, Buffett, Dudley, and Marshall; four mini-donkeys who are in training to become therapy animals, Buggsy, Prancer, Princess, and Carma; nine mini horses (seven who are already registered therapy horses) Mystery, Lunar, Turnabout, Faith, Grace, Charmer, and Cinderbella, (two who will be registered in 2019) Cream Puff and Cupcake, and two full size horses, Garth and Stitch, who are not therapy horses but have been trained to entertain the Ranch’s visitors.

Soul Harbour Ranch has thirty-six registered handlers who are all volunteers.  All of the animals and handlers are tested and registered by “Pet Partners” which is the  only organization in the United States that registers therapy equine.  “Pet Partners” has 40 years of experience and research.  There is a stringent training and testing program which takes at least six months where the handler and the animal must be trained and tested together.  Official therapy teams (the animal and the handler) are re-tested together every two years.

Some of the programs that Soul Harbour Ranch gets involved in are:

  • Visits to the Ranch
  • Visits offsite to the Ability Challenged, Community Events, Hospitals, Schools, Libraries, Veterans’ Organizations, Nursing and Retirement Communities, etc.
  • Soul Buddies Animal Therapy Club At Barrington High School
  • “Walk with Me” where members of the community walk and visit with the therapy animals in response to the Surgeon General’s Program dealing with walking for better health.
  • Story Time & “Read with Me”, library programs where children are either read to with therapy animals present, or are allowed to read to the animals to increase literacy.
  • “Just Say Whoa to Bullying” a nationally known bullying prevention program that assists children and adults in recognizing and respecting the differences in one another by partnering with therapy animals.
  • “Good 4 the Soul” – Quarterly events using meditation, yoga, essential oils, and other activities to increase happiness.  These sessions are sometimes used with therapy animals.

In 2018, Soul Harbour Offsite visits included

  • Rush Children’s Hospital
  • Uncle Dan’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Chicago
  • The Ronald McDonald House
  • Hines Veteran Administration Care Givers’ Picnic
  • “Walk with Me” at Lake Barrington Shores
  • Barrington Area Library
  • Journeycare at Rush Care Center
  • Little Sisters of the Poor/St Joseph Home for the Elderly
  • The Garlands of Barrington
  • Arboria of Long Grove
  • Barrington 4th of July Parade
  • Mini Polo at the Sanfilippo Polo Fields
  • Abilities Expo at the Schaumburg Convention Center
  • Barrington Dance Ensemble’s “Under the Big Top” Benefit” at the Sanfilippo Estate
  • Loyola University Medical Center
  • Shriner’s Hospital for Children
  • National Alliance of Mental Illness Mental Health Fair
  • Tractor Supply Company – Wauconda
  • Ela Area Public Library
  • Mercy Home for Boys and Girls
  • District 211 Academy South
  • Barrington Family Expo
  • McGrath Arlington Kia Photo Shoot
  • St Baldric’s Event at Rush University Medical Center
  • Marklund Wasmond Center at Little Angels
  • Sunrise of Barrington
  • GiGi’s PlayHouse – A Down’s Syndrome Achievement Center

Fun4thedisabled:  So tell me about the fundraising you’ve been doing.

Jodie Diegel:  Because we are a nonprofit and we do not charge for visits.  We mostly rely on private donations,

fundraisers we do on a monthly basis. We do Dinner donates where people will go to a restaurant and they get to donate 15% their proceeds.

Probably three quarters of the places that we visit are also nonprofits so they are unable to make a donation .  So for us, it’s very important to be able to continue and sustain this program. It’s important that we do fundraising that we reach out and find people that believe in our mission that believe animals are healing and will make a donation so that we can continue.   An example of funds:  we have 13 miniature horses, it costs $25 for a hoof trim every four to six weeks. Sometimes in the wintertime, we can get away with eight weeks, But, you know, again, costs add up; the hay, all their grain and their immunizations, their dental work, it all adds up.  There are transportation costs, all of that goes into, you know, the costs that are required to run this organization. We’re all volunteers. The animals all  live on our property.   I’m not paid, none of our volunteers are paid. So it’s very, very important:

A) that the costs are first met to run the organization. And,

B) you know, we are pursuing a capital campaign to be able to build a barn so that we can offer more on-site visits.   That’s probably a year or two in the future, unless we can find people that believe in the mission. Just through outreach, like with what you’re doing for this. So that’s where it’s very important that we tell people who we are. Yeah, and we show people what our animals can do for others. And if you feel happy, you feel good, you feel good around them,

Fun4thedisabled:  I love it.  I love this.

Jodie Diegel:  So that’s the exact type of, you know, comments that we want.  The exact type of feeling because, you know, it’s as, as we know, like the Maya Angelou, you know, it’s the close, where, you know, you can show people but it’s really about how you make them feel because that’s what they’re going to remember. It’s the feeling of happiness, joy, of love, of comfort, it’s our tagline, sharing of unconditional love.

Fun4thedisabled:  Soul Harbour Ranch is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose operational expenses are covered by donations, sponsorships and grants. There are several ways to support Soul Harbour Ranch:  You can go online at their https://www.Facebook.com/soulharbourranch/, or https://www.Smile. Amazon.com sites (search for Soul Harbour Ranch) where you can donate;  or purchase memorabilia like this baseball cap at https://www.Cloztalk.com (search for Soul Harbour Ranch).

For more information about supporting Soul Harbour or to find out about how to interact with them, go to their website which is https://www.soulharbourranch.com, or contact them at soulharbourranch@gmail.com or 855-408-SOUL.

Visiting with the therapy animals is an experience which brings one peace and happiness that should not be missed.  Because the size of the herd and the fac that the ranch is small, visits to the ranch are by invitation only.  If you are interested in visiting or attending one of their offsite events, please contact Jodie Diegel at soulharbourranch@gmail.com.

That about wraps it up for this week.  I really enjoyed visiting the ranch and meeting all of the wonderful animals.  I hope you have enjoyed this video and are motivated to find out more about the Soul Harbour Ranch.  Happy New Year and Bye Bye from me and my silent partner, Stella the giraffe!

Please share this video with all of your friends and family!

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