MARVIN – After a busy, stressful day at school or work, some children and adults find solace in riding horses at Shea Rose Farm.
Carol Land owns the farm. She has been riding horses since she was 6 years old and understands the comfort they provide.
Land grew up in upstate New York and started teaching people how to ride horses when she was in high school. After attending Cornell University and starting an equestrian program at Houghton College, she started her farm in Marvin, where she teaches horse riding and vaulting.
Land said after so many years of teaching, she has watched her clients grow just from spending time around the horses at her farm.
“Horses are so therapeutic,” Land said. “They help a lot of people. Not only kids but also adults. And I use that component to help them overcome many issues.”
Carolyn Seaton is one of Land’s adult students. She first met Land four years ago at Shea Rose Farm’s annual horse show and immediately knew it was the place she wanted to learn how to ride horses again.
Land’s program has helped Seaton overcome the issues she suffered with. Land also took Seaton and other riders on a competitive trail riding trip to New Zealand recently.
“It just takes me out of my problems for hours,” Seaton said. “I feel better for days after I’ve been here working with the horses. I know a lot of my fellow adult riders had traumatic things in the past or we’ve ridden in the past, but we’ve maybe had an accident and become fearful. But Carol is really good at working with adults and building our confidence step by step until we can approach horses from a place of joy again and she helps us overcome our fear, and a lot of that has to do with being around the horses.”
Though Land does not technically have a therapeutic riding program, she also uses her patience and passion to help children with special needs.
Recently, Land has seen one of her students with anxiety make big strides toward improving her self confidence. She recalled a time that a student had barely spoken when they first met, and after riding for a few months, decided to sing in front of her whole school at their talent show.
“I just work with what God brings me and try to do the best I can and help them on their journey in life,” Land said.
The horses at Shea Rose Farm also have stories and personalities of their own, which helps riders develop a strong connection with them.
“We just have a really good group of horses,” Land said. “They’re awesome and they help people. Some of our horses have been abused in the past and sometimes people can relate to them.”
On top of running the farm, training and teaching, Land also has a summer program for kids. She also trains riding teachers and has traveled around the country assessing teachers’ skills.
However, she said this will be her last year at the farm before she moves to the mountains to start a horse farm with her daughter. She does not have a set moving date yet, but this will be the last year Charlotte residents can ride with her.
She hopes Shea Rose Farm will stay a horse farm after she leaves.
Land said the connection kids and adults form with the horses is a special part of her job.
“This is their favorite part of the week, to come riding,” Land said. “This is their happy place.”