We are so excited to share with you all of the events of this past year (2014) and everything God is doing today.
We kicked off the riding season in late March and we were blessed to assist 13 children on a weekly basis from March – August, with horsemanship lessons and farm visits. Our lessons would begin with teaching how to be safe around the horse and then move on to grooming and tacking and then riding or leading the horse. Siblings that waited for their turn to ride would swing or rope the straw bale “bull”, play with the sand table or draw on the white board. We had obstacle courses for the riders to learn how to steer around barrels and poles. The younger riders would be led to activities stations that were accomplished on horseback (shooting hoops, throwing a ball through the hula hoop, playing games like Simon Says…). This year we added a bridge obstacle that they would ride the horses over. The kids usually loved this obstacle because of the feeling of going up and then down, or just being on the top was fun! On the really hot days, we had a “trail ride” where we led the riders down the side road and around the house in the shade, up and down small hills and under the trees. Some of the highlights for the kids on the trail were: to stop for visits with the other animals, identify the trees and reach for leaves of the trees we passed under. We also incorporated a sensory trail where we made stations with numbers and sensory objects which represented the days of Creation. For example on the day God created light, we included a flash light, when He created the Earth, there was a squishy ball that looks like the earth. I would really like to expand this area but need some help with creative ideas and making the trail a safer and more interesting adventure (I am opened for suggestions and help with this). On light rainy or really hot days our guests cleaned the horse tack while learning what each piece was called and how it is used or we visited and hung around the other farm animals which include our sheep Maggie, Bella the goat and Izzy the bunny. We also had some new farm friends over the summer Levi and Brighty the donkeys. The donkeys were a big hit with most of our guests. A few guests chose to lead a donkey instead of ride a horse, there is something about those big brown eyes and long ears that is so endearing! The donkeys are with some friends who have taken ownership of them. We learned that our pasture wasn’t able to sustain the number of equine we had last summer. Our sweet friends were willing to bring the Donkeys back for the Live Nativity this Christmas (what a huge blessing!). We love having the donkeys for the Nativity!
April was a busy month of activities and events. We attended a conference that helped us have more understanding of what we can do to be a safer and more equipped horse program and farm as well as giving us insights into how to assist children who have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). We came back inspired and excited as to how we can implement some of these great ideas. April was also the month for our first ever Easter Egg Hunt! We served over 30 children and their families that day. After they hunted for eggs, Jeff shared the Easter Story with Resurrection Eggs as the children sat and listened while sharing a snack and treats. Then it was time for egg dying with the help of our volunteers Ruth and Rebecca Barker. The children also enjoyed a time of kite flying and bubbles! The horses were at the fence watching all of the activity and to receive lots of petting and a few handfuls of grass that were offered by our guests.
We ended the month with a Bake Sale at Tractor Supply in Pearisburg Va.. With the help of donations, we were able to raise enough funds to help toward restocking our supply of arts and crafts as well as some of the tack used for the horses by the children, including “Rainbow Reins” that help the children know where to hold the reins while riding. The reins were also used to help identify colors of the rainbow while talking about God’s promise to us when He sent the rainbow after the flood. We were also able to add some temporary fencing to help extend our riding into the field for new areas for the children to ride over the “bridge” and work through the obstacles etc…
In May we were honored to host the China Outreach Ministries group for their second annual farm visit. We had around 50 guests which included children, parents and grand-parents. Most rode a horse and posed for pictures to send home to their families in China. We had a hot-dog cook-out and our guests brought some of their own cultural food to share with us.
In June we continued the horsemanship ministry with our regular guests. Heather continued the Bible Adventure Club activities as well. We also celebrated Heather’s Graduation from High School!
July was one of the busiest and most exciting months! Heather had the Bible Adventure Club’s Summer Day Camp. They had three days of crafts, games and bible lessons. Each day had a different theme and plenty of warm sunshine which meant water balloon games! We also hosted two different youth groups from Radford City. They groomed and rode a horse and had their pictures taken to put into the frames they made to have as a souvenir of the day. They decorated small totes which were later filled with “The Cowboy Way” New Testament and the Jesus film to take home with their crafts. After lunch, they made their own home-made Ice Cream! We were blessed to have two awesome volunteers Nicholas Fuller who helped with the games and photos, and Rebecca Barker who helped with horsemanship and crafts. They did a great job and loved on the kids and made it an overall fun time. In August we hosted the Urban Mountain Adventures group from Lynchburg. We had a blast with these girls. They rode horses, visited the other animals and played games all before lunch! After lunch they had a craft and devotion time led by Heather. The group took a trip to the Cascades water falls for a hike. Rebecca Barker and Heather joined them. What a fun day! Throughout the summer we had several God moments with our guest. We had lots of laughs and giggles and several quotes that we wished we had written down but the few that stuck out were “horses are awesome because they don’t have tires that POP!, and “this was the most awesome adventure ever!”. There were many more and I hope to keep a journal of them this year to share. The children are so precious and it wasn’t unusual to see hugs and kisses given to the horses and sometimes even a horse giving a hug to a kid! WOW!
We were thankful to have the assistance of Terry Sparks who is an experienced horseperson and well established with her own horse farm "Spruce Hill" in Newport, Giles Co. Va. where she offers horse boarding. Terry has become our friend and a great volunteer who has helped by working with some of our guests. We are always happy to have volunteers and it doesn’t matter if you have horse experience or not, we can find a place for you if you want to come and help.
We were blessed with the donation of 45 tons of Limestone from Lahoist North America-Kimballton Plant in Giles County. Even the delivery was paid for by donation gifts from several church members, friends and family who wanted to help the ministry. This footing was much needed for the Round Pen where the children primarily do horse activities. The footing provides a safe surface for riding and working with the horses. The Kimballton Plant also donated more stone in December for footing for the side road which leads to the barn and in the barn area. This was very helpful for the foot traffic of our guests who walked the illuminated trail that led to the Live Nativity at Christmas. Some of the donations were used to buy the New Testaments and Jesus film DVDs that were distributed along with all the food, crafts, material and upkeep of the tack shed, horses and other farm related necessities that are crucial to maintain the ministry program that we offer at no cost.
This year (2015) Heather and I were recertified for our First Aid and CPR training by Rebecca Thompson. Also, we were able to attend a conference held by TRAV (Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia) and received many ideas of ways to help our guests feel encouraged and how to incorporate many ways to share our farm with them.
In February we had the privilege to host Centered Riding and Advanced PATH Certified Instructor Judith Cross-Strehlke for a three day clinic. Judy shared better ways of horse riding techniques with biomechanics and balance of horse and rider and how to implement these techniques into our program. She was a great inspiration to us!
Our goals this year are to continue the work that God has given us to do in sharing all the many blessings we have received from Him in a positive and loving environment. We want children to feel His Love when they come to the farm and let the horses and animals be His instruments. Our hope is that the children will see how He cares for them through His creation.
This season we will implement some practical applications into our program to help the children grow in their full understanding of the care that goes into having a horse or animal. We will have regular barn chore days on Saturdays for local groups and volunteers who are interested in coming out to help.
We would like to share the farm by giving tours and introductions to the ministry with local groups and community organizations. We will continue to do His work as He leads us. Please continue to pray for us and please contact us if you have questions.
If you have any questions or want to schedule a visit to the farm,
call or text 540-616-8578 / email email@example.com
Growing in His grace,
Jeff, Michelle and Heather Osborne
Jeff and Michelle: Programs and Ministries Outreach
Heather: Bible Adventure Club leader…..