Jennifer Astrop met Zorro, the namesake of her 68-acre horse sanctuary in Chattahoochee Hills when her son Alex began hippotherapy after he became sick at age 6. Hippotherapy or equine-assisted therapy involves physical, occupational, and speech therapy using the natural movements of the horse to provide motor and sensory input for children with special needs. Zorro had a huge, positive impact on Alex and on Jennifer herself. Their shared experience would change both of their lives forever.
Jennifer founded Zorro’s Crossing Horse Sanctuary after her son had sessions with Zorro as a hippotherapy horse. When he was going to be retired, the Astrop family adopted Zorro and in doing so, realized many more horses needed a sanctuary to live out their senior and retired years. “Zorro’s Crossing provides permanent homes for horses cast aside primarily by the racing industry,” says Jennifer. “We rescue, rehabilitate, and give our horses a forever home."
Rescued racehorses, saved from uncertain futures, undergo a profound transformation as they embark on a new career as therapy horses. The transition involves more than just a change of geographical location. It represents a shift from the world of competition to one of compassion and healing. Racehorses are highly sensitive and in tune with their surroundings. Horses can sense the emotions and needs of their human companions, making them ideal partners in therapy for children and adults with special learning, physical, or emotional needs. The magic of rescued racehorses in the therapy environment lies in the profound connection they forge with their human counterparts. Through gentle interactions and therapeutic activities, the horse and the rider develop a beautiful trust. They, as horse and rider, build confidence, learn to communicate effectively, set boundaries, and develop emotional awareness. “We have just launched Wonder, our hippotherapy program, with Sue Soha who originally taught Alex on Zorro,” says Jennifer. “Our goal is to expand this program with more horses and riders so that hippotherapy is readily accessible to all of those people who need it.”
Zorro’s Crossing Horse Sanctuary is a nationally recognized 501(c)3 where funds raised are designated to the care of their current and future rescued horses and to further establish and develop their hippotherapy program. It is currently the forever home to ten beautiful horses who have acres of green pastures and farmland to roam and call home. “We love our horses unconditionally and keep them safe from harm for the rest of their lives,” says Jennifer. When not working in the showroom at Minotti, Jennifer can be found working with Zorro’s Crossing and involving her family as much as possible with the sanctuary and the horses. “I think it is therapeutic for our entire family to work with the horses.”
For Jennifer, interior designer, co-founder of Minotti by HA Modern in Atlanta, and the founder of Zorro’s Crossing Horse Sanctuary, there is no more profound a connection than that between a human and a horse. “I have always been an animal lover and have had a special place in my heart for horses since I was a girl,” says Jennifer. “I took riding lessons beginning at age 5 and rode horses at summer camp.”
Through gentle interactions and therapeutic activities, the horse and the rider develop a beautiful trust.