The vision for taking horses to an orphanage in Brazil began in 2008, when Ingela Larsson Smith responded to the call of God, "I want you to go to Brazil."
In November 2009, Ingela and her husband Richard, together with Katy Overton, were the first team to go to Brazil and spent 5 days in Sao Paulo preparing for the project. In the search for the right orphanage, the group made a simple 'recon' trip to Betel Children's Home, near Brasilia in the State of Goias.
Upon their arrival, they discovered that Betel had previously been given 13 horses, living on 2500 acres of land as a free-roaming herd. The pastor at Betel had been desperately searching for an answer for what could be done with their horses, when Ingela, Richard and Katy arrived, an answer to prayer.
The team spent a week building relationships with the leadership, the children and the horses, strategizing creative solutions on how to best help them. They assessed the horse herd, and were able to help some of the most challenging horses become gentler and overcome their fear of men.
The children enjoyed the new after-school activity of learning to interact with the horses naturally and safely, picking up some basic horsemanship principles along the way.
By the end of the week, the team and the leadership agreed that Betel was the right location for the Horses for Orphans project.
The second team flew to Brazil in March of 2010 and again spent 5 days in Sao Paulo preparing for the return trip to Betel, and translating the Horse Skills material for the H-Factor Program into Portuguese. The team then flew to Brasilia and stayed at Betel until early April.
This trip, the main focus was to build the necessary facilities, most importantly an outdoor arena and six stalls. The team taught horsemanship and Kingdom principles to the leadership and children, and offered practical instruction and advice on things like horse care, feeding and worming.
As the project progressed, it became clear that the team needed a local young adult who would be open to further training in Horsemanship, for the purpose of becoming the leader for the 'Horses for Orphans' project at Betel children's home. Reginaldo Isaiah Lopez soon emerged as the perfect candidate to be the local leader of the horse project, and started his training as an H-Factor Instructor with Ingela Larsson Smith.
In the team's absence, Fernando Rolim, a well-known Brazilian horseman and veterinarian, visited the project every three months, checking on the horses and providing further training for Reginaldo and the children.
That year, Rolim was also responsible for building a round pen for the project, and in the fall of 2010, Chris and Esther Haab took a team to Betel, their contribution being the installation of a water system to the stalls.
In early 2011, several different teams came and went, each enjoying practical experience in the project, and getting personally trained by Richard and Ingela. One of those teams was the Youth Philanthropy Club from Missoula, Montana, who for a year had been raising funds for Reginaldo's wages and the veterinarian costs. They were delighted to finally meet the children and see the project they had supported.
June and October 2011 saw another two teams giving their time and effort to the horse project at Betel. Gates were built for the stalls, a 4-hectare patch measured, and the land prepared for the grass planting, which Reginaldo and the Betel staff planted in December.
In February and March 2012, Richard and Ingela welcomed four different teams. Everyone that came was taught in the healing of the heart and encouraged to go deeper with God. The team members brought life and love to the children and contributed to the horse project with a variety of skills. Fencing was secured around the 4 hectares of grass that had been planted, a roof was constructed over the stables, a feed and tack room were built and the land was sloped around the arena and stables to assist the water drainage. The H-Factor Horse Handling Assessment Task book and the Concepts 1 DVD were translated into Portuguese for Reginaldo and the children. Natural horsemanship rope halters were made, leather tags stamped to label the halters and English was taught every evening.
The boys and girls in the horse project had the opportunity to take part in a roping class with Buddy Cardinal. To practice without cows, they helped create a metal cow. They learnt how to drag it around the arena on horse back while others honed their skills by roping the moving target.
Later in 2012 Betel encountered many difficulties, which resulted in the Children’s Home being closed in 2013. With this, the Horses for Orphans project at Betel came to an end.
Richard and Ingela had already been searching for many months for a new place. They kept believing in God and His promises for a new base. In November 2013, after much prayer, they found the new location, a beautiful farm close to the city of Anápolis, Goiás. There they started a new Horses for Orphans project. Currently living on the new base are Wagner, the caretaker, Reginaldo, project leader and the boys Douglas, Fabrício and Antônio. In July Categoric, a purebred thoroughbred gelding arrived.