Arion Therapeutic Farm has changed the way they do things to stay afloat during COVID-19.
Animal lovers can purchase memberships from the not-for-profit social enterprise and be matched with an animal friend and learn how to care for them as much as they want.
The animal sanctuary in Kelowna is known for its therapeutic rides for people with disabilities but it’s now shifting its focus to involve the whole family and people of all abilities who want to come to experience a little bit of farm life and take care of an animal instead of riding it.
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“As a result of COVID, we experienced a tremendous drop in student attrition so we went from 50 students to about three or four who felt comfortable and who are socially independent and could maintain social distance,” said Heather Henderson, Arion Therapeutic Farm founder.
Students and families are starting to return to the farm and are booking appointments to maintain social distancing.
Four-year-old Kaedan is learning how to care for 26-year-old mini horse, Belle, who he has signed up to care for this month with the new membership program. On his first day, he learned to walk with her and brush her with a little help from his sister.
“Horses are a lot like dogs, they need companionship and love,” said Henderson. “They look forward to their human coming to take care of them and show them love.”
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Three boys returned to the farm on Saturday after taking a break for a few months due to the coronavirus pandemic. They walked three ponies around the farm and pampered them.
“I missed this place so much because this place was one of my happy places,” said Saiyele, 12-years-old.
“Every time I come here and I’m upset I automatically get happy when I’m near a horse.”
Eleven-year-old Vinny said he was happy to be reunited with his four-legged friends.
“They probably missed their walks too,” said Vinny as he prepared mini horse Bubbles for a walk on the farm.
Henderson said that it’s not just a chance to get out of the city and get outside that people enjoy, but that caring for the rescued animals on the farm is also good for the soul.
“Caressing an animal and brushing them releases serotonin and it helps literally with any mental health depression or anxiety disorders I hear the feedback continually from people,” said Henderson.
The farm is limiting the number of people who visit at a time and are cleaning brushes and equipment each day to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To purchase a membership package and schedule a time to go to the farm visit www.ariontherapeutic.farm
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