Crissey Smith and Susan Shampine are the co-founders of Mini-Blessings. Both share a life-long love of horses and were brought together by the shared compassion and desire to enrich the community through the power of equine healing. Early in Crissey's adult life, she saw first-hand how the love and companionship of a horse made a positive impact on her autistic daughter. It was through this experience that Crissey developed an innate desire to be able to provide these experiences to others. She bought her first miniature, Little Bits, in 2005 on "doctor's orders" for positive interaction and stress relief for herself and her husband, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. A short time later she turned to Chance’s Miniature Horse Rescue for an equine companion for Little Bits and adopted Cody, a miniature, black gelding. With the herd slowly growing, Crissey began participating in community events in order to share the horses and their healing power with the local community.
Susan got her first horse in college. From there, she spent time raising and training Quarter Horses, but circumstances then forced her to become “horseless” for 13 years. Following retirement, she moved to Buena Vista in 2007 and met Crissey, along with her two minis, Little Bits and Cody. It didn't take long for Susan to be infected with Crissey's enthusiasm and love for these little horses. Before too long, Susan adopted a miniature of her own, Aurora from Wisconsin.
Today, the herd at Mini-Blessings has grown to include Corey, Little G, mother and son duo, Lily and Messi, and their “big sister” Lady Bug and "big brother" Rio. The community is welcome to visit the herd at Mini-Blessings, or they might see us out and about visiting the schools, library, nursing homes, or at a local community event! You can also learn more about our programs below.
Our programs in partnership with Avery Parsons Elementary school have included structured learning for 5th grade students (both special needs and regular students), a program for The Grove preschool for special needs children and a program for Chaffee County High School to provide learning activities for high school students at our farm. We have a partnership with Colorado Autism Associates to bring autistic children to the farm to work with the horses one day a week. We offer programs to area preschools, private schools, home schooled children, and to organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, Full Circle (in Leadville, CO), ElevateHer and Achieve.
In addition to the programs we offer, we also make our horses and facilities available to local therapists to work with their clients. Therapists working at the farm have included occupational therapists, speech therapists and physical therapists. We continue to grow and expand our presence in the community, so do check out our website and facebook page!