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Look into Wheatland Farm Equine Therapy


By — Mia Parada

Patricia Rasmussen has been around horses for a long time, however the experience she gets form Wheatland Farm Equine Therapy is one to remember. “My favorite part is watching the students advance and become more confident and coordinated. And walking is good exercise, if a bit exhausting after a while… Some of the children are adorable, and it’s fun watching them grow and learn. I’ve learned to be very fond of some of them, and look forward to working those days.” 

Wheatland Farm has been around since 1999 in Purcellville. The founders of Wheatland Farm, Mark and Muriel Forrest, began their intentions of the farm to help others in need. Twenty years later they continue to do that in the midst of Covid-19. This virus has caused a lot of harm to the community, however Wheatland Farm is using this experience to strengthen them. The Pack caught up with one of the volunteers at Wheatland Farm, Patricia Rasmussen. 

“This is a complete riding school that offers classes for everybody from severely disabled adults and children, through those wanting to make the Para-Olympic riding team, to traditional students who just want to learn to ride or to improve their skills,” said Rasmussen about the Wheatland Farm. 

Wheatland Farm has many different positions for the volunteers who work in this specific program. There are many different positions that are assigned weekly to different people. The positions are Horse Leader, Arena Assistant, and Barn Assistant. These different positions require different activities that the volunteers commit to for the week. The Horse Leader position is where the volunteer takes a hold of the horse for whichever lesson it is assigned too. Arena Assistant is the extra eyes for the lessons, and is there in case of any emergency. However they also can help with opening and closing doors or the horses, cleaning up after the horse, and/or holding the horse while the instructor works. This position has a lot of different responsibilities but are mainly for the set of extra eyes during a lesson. The last position at the moment is Barn Assistant (BA). The BA does as follows, helps the manager with the lesson, doing any extra activities/responsibilities that are needed. 

Not only are the volunteers learning about horses but also about physical and mental disabilities. Rasmussen said the following about what she has learned. “I’m learning something about different types of physical and mental disabilities, and how so many children learn to overcome their limitations. And I’ve learned about the process of teaching riding/horsemanship to both traditional students and those in the therapy program. And I’m learning a bit about the Paralympics, which is also part of the program there, although it doesn’t involve as many volunteers as do the therapy lessons.” 

This opportunity is unlike any other, because of the fact that you can learn so much about others in our community. Not only do the volunteers get to handle horses, but also learn about the students and their lives. Wheatland Farm is a perfect place for horse lovers, but also for people looking to help their community. Through this program many people like Rasmussen have developed more of a love for horses and the community we live in. Wheatland Farm is currently looking for more volunteers during this hard time and is offering private one-on-one lessons for volunteers. Look for more information on their website and their contact info.

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