Coxsackie Horse Farm caters to children with disabilities | Greene County

Coxsackie Horse Farm caters to children with disabilities |  Greene County

COXSACKIE — A Greene County therapy horse program that serves children with disabilities is scheduled for a grand opening celebration at its new home in Coxsackie. The Breezy Lawn Farm Equestrian Connection Experience was originally run from the farm’s original location in Acra, but the farm owners acquired a new 10-acre site in February to house the farm. growing business.

Molly Proper, president of Breezy Lawn Farm, gave a tour of the property, located at 1700 Farm to Market Road, on Tuesday ahead of the grand opening ceremony which is due to take place on June 11.

Proper launched the Horse Connection Experience in 2020 with the goal of serving children and young adults with disabilities in Greene and Columbia counties by providing hands-on experiences with horses.

“I work with kids on building relationships, it’s not really a horseback riding program,” Proper said. “I work on teaching them confidence. It’s a lot of groundwork. I usually start with my little ponies. We start with how to approach a horse and how to be around a horse to learn how to walk with the horse and do groundwork with the horse. It really teaches them to trust these animals before they get on these animals.

Proper has six horses in the program as well as two ponies and has contracts with local groups, including the Columbia County chapter of The Arc New York and Schenectady ARC, to deliver the program to clients.

“I have a group that comes with autism, and when they started with me, they were petrified to even get near the horses,” Proper said Tuesday. “Now, two years later, they’re going to get into it and they’ve gained a lot of confidence in themselves and with the horses. The goal is to teach them to integrate these character traits into their daily lives. So I focus on respect, self-control, confidence and courage. So each week focuses on a different trait.

Proper has a personal reason to believe in the healing power of working with horses, as she saw the benefits they brought to her older brother Matthew Taylor after he was injured in an accident.

“My brother had a tractor-trailer accident six years ago and they told us he wasn’t going to make it,” Proper said. “He was in a coma for a year and he now lives with a traumatic brain injury. But the horses are a big reason why I believe he succeeded. I would take him with me and he would remember it, because he had been around horses before, so I think horses can be very therapeutic.

Since taking on her first client two years ago, Proper has seen the effect the presence of horses can have on her young clients.

“I have a little boy who is autistic and mute and he said his first word on the back of one of my horses,” she said. “He just said, ‘Go ahead.’ For a little boy who has never spoken before, he could make it clear what he wanted to do.

Proper works with more than 20 clients with special needs, which requires more space for the program.

“It’s a farm and back home it was more of a backyard farm,” she said of Coxsackie’s location. “He grew from my small backyard farm to a bigger grow and we needed more space. Now I have it because it’s a working horse farm.

Horses at Coxsackie Farm were rescued by Proper from dire circumstances to participate in the Therapeutic Initiative.

“I rescue the horses, rehabilitate them, and put them in the program,” Proper said. “I have horses that have been starved, beaten, overworked. I take them and use them with my clients once they have been with me for a while and know they are safe.

Proper runs the Equestrian Connection experience with his sister-in-law Makaila Taylor, vice president of Breezy Lawn Farm.

“It’s a family business,” Proper said. “I couldn’t have done it without one of them.”

The grand opening event on June 11 at the farm will run from noon to 7 p.m., featuring vendors, a barbecue, pony rides and live music from Peaceful Country, as Breezy Lawn Farm welcomes the community to its new location.

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