Just off of bustling Clements Ferry Road and Highway 41, there’s a quiet horse farm nestled in the Francis Marion Forest that offers an environment of peace with a purpose.
The long, crunchy gravel road that leads to the farm forces drivers to slow down and take in their surroundings. A canopy of trees forms a shady tunnel where the trees part, sunlight shines through to expose a lush and dreamy haven that appears to be lit in technicolor. Majestic peacocks, spry chickens, waddling ducks, an assortment of dogs, two donkeys, and 12 horses roam the 18-acre property known as Saltaire.
In February 2021, Saltaire Stables and Farm was established. Sarah Lustig, a registered nurse, pursued a long-time goal: to open a therapeutic trail riding sanctuary for those silently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Survivors of this trauma often struggle to readjust to life, and due to lack of knowledge about rehabilitation resources, they may be left feeling isolated, weak, and detached from society.
After seeing so many TBI and PTSD survivors silently suffering and not being given the chance for readily available care, Lustig decided to combine her nursing background with her lifelong love for horses to provide the community with a therapeutic retreat. She acquired the farm’s horses from Grace Farm, a nonprofit rescue group dedicated to the care of neglected animals. When the horses arrived at their new home, they were trained for a new job: to rescue humans.
“Caring for horses requires concentration, selflessness, and teamwork. Equine-assisted therapy programs have been shown to help improve self-esteem, self-awareness, confidence, and empathy, which is our ultimate goal,” she noted.
Lustig continued, saying their vision at Saltaire is “to empower and provide an outlet for survivors (and their families), in hopes that they will overcome post trauma stressors and lingering brain injury deficits through the therapeutic healing that horses provide. Our hope is that participants regain their footing, strengthen their pride,
manage their symptoms, and rediscover their purpose again.”
“I also welcome frontline nurses and doctors to explore reconnection, purpose, and strength as we strive to climb out of COVID,” Lustig added.
In addition to offering philanthropic activities to post-trauma syndrome patients, Saltaire will facilitate private boutique-style trail ride experiences to individuals and corporations interested in employee enrichment training through trail riding, equine assisted services, and horsemanship.
An official opening date is planned for early 2022. Once the trail riding program is up and running smoothly, Lustig’s partner, Taylor Messervy, who is also a Registered Nurse, plans to open a 10-bed residential facility just a few miles from the farm. The facility will house moderate to high functioning traumatic brain injury patients to assist in their rehabilitation recovery before transitioning back home. It will provide 24-hour supervision, assistance with activities of daily living, and transportation to and from Saltaire Stables where residents will participate in therapeutic equine activities and work hardening programs. Messervy and Lustig are both certified brain injury specialists with a passion for helping survivors during their long road to recovery.
Saltaire has begun calling on local businesses and corporations to request sponsorship. “So far we have one sponsor, Andrew Ciappa from Janney,” Lustig noted. “Their sponsorship assisted Saltaire in purchasing additional saddles and bridles for horses that were just accepted into the program and we couldn’t be more grateful!”
Volunteer opportunities are available at Saltaire. The community can also support the farm by purchasing trail ride packages. Donations are accepted and donor plaques will be displayed in various areas of the barn. Horses require consistent and reliable love and care as well as food, water, shelter, and constant assessments with grooming to be happy and healthy.
“Saltaire Stables appreciates anyone in the Charleston community or outside area who would be willing to donate their time or services,” Lustig said.