The Equestrian Therapy Program has been touching lives in our twelve-county area for over 30 years. Our non-profit charitable corporation, established in 1982, is a Premier Center accredited by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). Our Instructors receive specialized training and certification which enables them to provide our students with activities that exercise the spirit, as well as the mind and body.
Classes are held at Fassett Farm, which is owned by the Equestrian Therapy Program. Here the riders enjoy both indoor and outdoor arenas, as well as the woods and trails. Our students are referred through area hospitals, schools, therapists and physicians, or independently.
The staff and volunteers at Fassett Farm embrace the concept that disabilities are challenged and new abilities are created.
In 1982, Ann Fassett had the idea to start a therapeutic riding program at her Briarhedge Farm. The Program was incorporated as a 501(C)(3) non-profit by the trustees: Ann and Joe Fassett and Bev Thompson. Thompson arena was built because Ann and Joe knew that we would need an indoor arena so classes could be held during all kinds of weather. It also enabled the program to hold evening classes. Jeanette Wood, now a board member, became our first adult rider with MS.
In 1983, a pilot program was held. Sixteen youngsters, eight from St. Rita's and eight from Lima Memorial, were our first students. We were accredited through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA).
The Program began in 1984 with ten week sessions held in spring, summer and fall. Classes were held on Mondays and Thursdays. In addition to the two hospitals, Marimor Workshop adults joined us for a total of 51 riders the first year.
Many changes occurred within the next 15 years. In 2010, ground was broken for the new building and entrance. The new building added a second indoor arena, a large office, a conference room, and more horse stalls.
How It all Began
Derived from the 30th Anniversary Newsletter
"The blink of an eye... that's what it seems like to me. The thrill of owning the Farm, having the small 'ladies only' boarding business, and then beginning the Equestrian Therapy Program, all seem morphed together into one glorious era of my life. I loved the actual building part of it, from creosoting the wood int he new stable build onto the old barn, to planning and building the big arena and making various changes for the growing Program, to watching the new building go up. I'll never forget the Amish men silhouetted against the blue sky while they put up the roof beams! I loved clearing the trails, planning the tiling, the leach fields, and the fencing projects. I have loved the Farm. These are special vignettes in my memory.
I cherish our wonderful farm neighbors whose helpfulness, in many instances, made my life so much easier! I have dear memories of our resident managers who became my friends; Christine Seffernick, Mark and Kathy Swaney, Theta and Arthur Luscumb, Mickki and Ross Skaggs, Felicia Thuman, and now Errin Dohm. Establishing our Endowment has been especially meaningful as it is a hallmark of our years of recognition in our community. I appreciated helping to build the timely and important association with the hospitals and the YMCA.
I've enjoyed being a part of the Program as Farm owner, Equestrian Therapy Program co-founder, Director, President of the Board, and now Director Emeritus. It is wonderful to have made many friendships over the years through work with volunteers, parents, riders and staff. I cherish knowing the histories of our horses, about the homes from which they came, and many of the folks who donated them. Sharing the building of Briarhedge cum Fassett Farm and the Equestrian Therapy Program with my husband, Joe and Bev Thompson is my JOY. I cannot Imagine spending 30 plus years of my life in any other way."