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Farm Fun Day for veterans and their families is Saturday, June 11

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Farm Fun Day

A veteran stands with a horse at Copper Crest Farm.

Veterans and their families are invited to a Farm Fun Day Saturday, June 11, at Copper Crest Farm in Wytheville. During the event, there will be horseback riding, the opportunity to spend time with gentle horses, carriage rides and snacks.

There will also be a silent auction to raise money for the Copper Crest Riding Therapy Program that provides horse-related help for mentally, physically and emotional challenged children and adults. Auction items include several original Jen Otey paintings, a patriot wall hanging and a power drill.

Saturday’s event is for veterans and their families, but in general the therapeutic riding program is for any child or adult with physical, mental and emotional challenges, said Pam Umberger, Copper Crest owner.

Umberger started the therapy program in the early 1980s.

“And we’ve been going continuously ever since,” she said. “I learned about it (riding therapy) through working with 4-H. We did a program on 4-Hers volunteering for therapeutic riding lessons, so we started our own here in Wytheville.”

According to Umberger, riding and working with horses helps people in a variety of ways.

“In terms of physical challenges, the horseback riding improves muscle tone, it improves agility, it helps with balance,” she said. “For those with intellectual or mental challenges, the horseback riding improves spatial judgment, sense of direction, and problem solving. For those with emotional challenges, riding horses gives people a sense of power, builds confidence, improves self-esteem, and it is a catalyst for socialization. Everybody at the barn is here because they like and are interested in horses, so people can come from totally different backgrounds … but they all have the common interest of horses, so it really does promote socialization.”

Umberger said that people facing such challenges are often a bit isolated so that when they get involved with a horse, they not only get the benefit of being with the animal, they benefit from being around other people who like horses, too.

Copper Crest is home to 17 horses, including two Saddlebreds, several Tennessee Walking Horses, some Morgans, a Hackney pony and a miniature horse. The oldest horse, Smoke, is 30 years old; the youngest, Susie, is 7. The average age of a horse is 25 to 30 years.

“We had one horse that lived to be 37 and a lot of them live up into their 30s,” Umberger said.

Although Saturday’s event is for veterans and their families, Copper Crest offers therapeutic riding for the general public, too.

If someone is unable to get on a horse and ride Saturday, there will horse-drawn carts and carriages so they can get in and ride behind the horse. At other times, people can schedule a horseback or carriage ride.

“All people have to do to access the program is call me and schedule it,” Umberger said. “Typically, there is a small fee ($15 an hour), but the donated money and money raised is for people who don’t have the money to pay, which most do not.”

The Fun Farm Day for veterans and their families is June 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Copper Crest Farm, 987 Rose Hill Road, Wytheville. It is a free event. For information or to learn more about the Copper Crest therapeutic program call Umberger at 276-228-5817.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 583, or email mrothrocks@wythenews.com

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