Synopsis: The North Shore Horse Rescue and Sanctuary farm in Baiting Hollow, NY serves as a healing place for both humans and horses. This short documentary looks at the work led by Louise Abitbol and Laurel Palermo, who in partnership with Stony Brook University’s School of Nursing, developed a unique equine therapy program for war veterans returning to college while also dealing with the challenges of PTSD.
For some years now, Annmarie and I have been taking our kids to the North Fork of Long Island, oftentimes stumbling upon hidden gems that have had a huge impact on our lives. One of these special places is the North Shore Horse Rescue and Sanctuary farm in Baiting Hollow, NY, run by Laurel Palermo, and her partner-in-crime, Louise Abitbol. At first, we were attracted to the warm welcoming environment and our access to connect and feed the beautiful horses on the farm. But it was not until Annmarie learned about the inspiring equine therapy program with Stony Brook University students who had just returned from war, that we realized a beautiful story needed to be told. Some of these brave war veterans who were now dealing with the stress of university workload, were also dealing with challenges related to PTSD and severe anxiety. With the support of Louise and Laurel, participants were paired with horses who had also experienced trauma in their lives. The connection between human and horse, with the guidance of Louise’s therapeutic process and guidance, became the inspiration for this short film, which captures the connection between a war vet named Ivan and his equine therapy partner named Jet.
Kevin A. Lopez is a director and producer known for his work on The Inquisition of Camilo Sanz (2014), Mind Up (2014), The Hudson Tribes (2016), and Paradise City (2019). He is also a film and media arts educator for the New York City Department of Education and an advocate for film arts education in historically underrepresented communities. Kevin is based in New York City.
Annmarie Ragucci is a speech and language pathologist working with the NYC Department of Education, and a lover of Long Island based stories that explore empowering themes that focus on people with disabilities. She is a mother of three and a resident of RVC, NY.