FAIRMONT, W.Va. – A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday for a miniature horse barn at the On Eagles’ Wings Therapeutic Horsemanship Facility in Fairmont.
Since On Eagles’ Wings is a non-profit organization, the mini barn was made possible by a grant from the Milan Puskar Foundation.
The addition of the miniature horse barn will allow On Eagles’ Wings to expand into the community by developing their miniature horse outreach program.
The focus of the miniature horse outreach program is literacy, care and compassion, and they do activities to practice those skills. The miniature horse outreach program is open to everyone.
“I always said I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was younger, so I get to be this role model for other people going through anxiety and depression, because I really needed help when I was going through middle school and high school, and I would’ve loved to find a place like this with people who care and horses who care. It’s just a great experience,” said Victoria Chisler, Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in mental health
According to Casey Conaway, Director of Development at On Eagles’ Wings, the miniature horses love to be read to. They go visit school children so they can practice their literacy skills. Conaway said that at any point, anyone could be in need of care and compassion, but the miniature horses often visit nursing homes and rehab centers to provide support to those residents.
“Our motto is ‘Changing Lives One Hoof Beat at a Time.’ We work here, we’re employed here, but who does the work inside people’s hearts? Our head of therapeutic horses. We have 14 full-size therapeutic horses and three miniature horses. It’s an honor to partner with them because horses have a capacity to reach inside people’s hearts in a way that other human beings can’t,” said Conaway.
To cater to the needs of the miniature horses, there will be a dry lot fenced in behind the mini barn with special fencing so the horses can’t escape. Miniature horses need less exercise than full-sized horses, and they shouldn’t eat grass, so all vegetation will be cleared from behind the barn creating a dry lot.