Meet the Horses
The whole concept of Take Flight Farms revolves around the centuries-old relationship between Human and Horse. Even when the automobile usurped their basic functions, horses continued to be a part of many people’s lives. In explaining what we do at Take Flight Farms, we are often asked, “Why horses? Why not dogs, or basketball or music?”
To put it simply, horses are incredibly smart and honest creatures. Like humans, they are very social and have unique personalities. The horse has an innate ability to mirror a client’s behavior. If that behavior happens to be ineffectual, the horse is able to safely and quickly confront it and demand modification. This leads clients to find strengths deep within themselves that they may otherwise have not. Breakthroughs tend to occur much more quickly this way than in typical therapy settings.
First, an average horse weighs about 1200 pounds. It cannot be picked up, dragged along or pushed when one needs or wants it to move. At some point, the horse has to agree to move. This requires some degree of communication between horse and human.
The horse is a herd animal, relying on its own intuition and that of its herd for survival. Despite its great size, a horse’s natural reaction to danger (whether real or imagined) is to flee rather than fight. A certain level of trust must be built between horse and human to establish a working relationship.
Since backyard horsekeeping is no longer the norm, few of the participants in our programs have had any experience with horses. This gives them a level playing field from which they are able to accomplish horse-related tasks at their own pace.
For these reasons and many others, the horses are an integral part of Take Flight Farms. Miracle Hills Ranch and Stable, and several individual horse owners have generously agreed to share their horses with Take Flight Farms’ participants. The variety of horses, each with a unique personality and moods as variable as any teenager’s, allow the therapist and instructors to custom design programs to address each group or individual’s issues.
In return, each horse benefits from the freedom to be themselves in our sessions. Additionally they receive a thorough grooming, individual attention, and a special thank you treat. In fact, some sessions totally revolve around creating delicious, nutritious treats for our equine partners.
Fletcher is a 17 year old Thoroughbred who decided a race and show career was not for him! After years of trauma he was rescued and rehabilitated. His past trauma makes it hard for him to trust people, but once you have his trust, you won’t lose it. Fletcher is the smallest of our herd which makes participants head straight for him. He’s calm, cool, collected, and makes you work hard to form a relationship with him. Kids are especially drawn to him and his differences from the other horses. They can tell almost immediately he hasn’t led a pampered life and many can relate to that!
Luke, an 18 year old Warmblood, is a true gentleman with a bit of sass! As a former show horse, he has seen and done it all, which makes him a calming presence in the arena. Luke has remained unruffled through everything that has taken place in the arena. Luke is a big horse and while his size can be intimidating, clients soon realize how sweet and friendly he is. Luke is a good lesson on not judging someone by their looks!
Rocky has a great story. An imported Danish Warmblood, his bloodlines are royal! His potentital high-level show career was cut short due to illness. He can no longer be ridden-but wow does he make a great therapy horse! Rocky, who is as tall as Luke, can also be a bit intimidating for clients, but his quirky and sometimes silly personality usually lends a bit of humor to our sessions. Tall, dark, and handsome, Rocky is a bit of a ladies man who has formed a special bond with another horse in his pasture. When they are separated, Rocky has a hard time. As clients work with Rocky and see his dependency on the other horse, they themselves can learn a bit about themselves and how they react to others.
Ted, a 21 year old (TALL!) Quarter Horse, is one of the sweetest, kindest, and calmest horses we’ve met! He was meant to be a trail horse, but a pasture injury left him unable to be ridden except at a walk. He spent the last six years as a popular physical therapy horse at Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA). Now at his age he is better suited to a non-riding therapeutic program. Ted is incredibly trustworthy and even the most nervous clients feel safe and secure working with him.