Alex has worked with horses since she was 10 years old and wanted to share that love with others, so she went on to get a degree in social work. For the past 11 years, she has been working at Pal-O-Mine. Pal-O-Mine Equestrian is a New York therapeutic horseback riding farm. It serves vulnerable populations by providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning, and healing.
Alex brought her knowledge from years in long-term care nursing homes to extend the Pal-O-Mine program to include a dementia program.
“Many of our volunteers on the farm are older adults and I saw that this could also be a way to work with dementia patients as well. For many older adults coming to the farm is a nice way to reminisce and learn.”
Working with animals and having contact with nature and the farm has shown to have a positive impact on those suffering from dementia. The program further extended as fun farm outings for those living in assisted living though with COVID-19 these property visits moved to virtual education.
“Helping people get through the pandemic and virtually bring them to the farm has been really rewarding,”
said Alex. She was instrumental in reshaping virtual farm education with fun and innovative ways of live streaming farm life to those who couldn’t make it there. Alex sees these virtual events as staying even after the pandemic, as it is a nice way to reach a larger network of people.
Through an email from the NY Department of Aging, Pal-O-Mine heard about GetSetUp. GetSetUp’s work with older adults fit in with Pal-O-Mine’s partnerships with local assisted living facilities to provide benefits to older adults. The Pal-O-Mine organization really just looks to assure that everyone who comes to the farm feels empowered.
“For many older adults, the struggle is coping with losing some independence. Here on our farm, everything is so adaptable with walkways, ramps, and indoor spaces with both heating and cooling. Everything here is adapted to wheelchair level and coming soon we are starting a Parkinson's specific program.”
Benefit Of Horsing Around On the Farm
- Hands-on - The experience is all about touching the animals and caring for them that makes it a fun hands-on experience.
- Reminiscence - Most people have had positive farm experiences so it's a nice way to remember some fond memories.
- Tactile and Sensory Experience - These types of experiences have been known to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Self-Esteem and Independence - Many older adults come to the farm who may need help with their own personal life skills due to the feeling of a loss of independence. However, caring for animals can help them regain that confidence in a different form.
- Something Different - Best of all, for most people this experience is something new that is fun and intriguing.
For those closer to the farm, they can participate in all the many in-person activities. These include therapy horticulture with organic farming vocational programs, herb gardens, terrarium creation, memory books, and photography sessions. In addition of course to getting the full tactile experience!
What Can You Expect From the Horsing Around Interest Group?
Alex has a lot of interactive activities, both in person and virtually. All of these are live and interactive so take part and ask questions. Some of the fun activities that you may have a chance to experience in this interest group include:
- General introduction to the farm
- Learn about different types of horses
- Participate in different farm tasks and learn how to do them
- Understand how to groom a horse with information on bathing and brushes
- Learn different riding styles and how they can help diverse students
- Play Hay-BINGO throughout the event to see what you see on the property
If that sounds like fun to you be sure to attend the next Horsing Around On the Farm Interest Group on Thursday, July 8th.
Join Alex at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian for an hour of horse care and horse discussion. During the session, we will go over the different grooming techniques for keeping our therapy horses clean and healthy. No horse experience or prior knowledge needed.Virtually Tour A Horse Farm