- Therapeutic Benefits: Pal-O-Mine Equestrian offers therapeutic programs for vulnerable populations, including a specialized dementia program utilizing the healing power of horses.
- Adaptation and Innovation: Alex expanded the program to include virtual farm education during the pandemic, providing a lifeline of connection and joy to those unable to visit in person.
- Empowerment and Accessibility: The farm is designed with accessibility in mind, offering features like walkways and ramps to empower older adults, including those with limited independence or specific conditions like Parkinson's.
Alex has worked with horses since she was 10 years old and wanted to share that love with others, so she went on to get a degree in social work. For the past 11 years, she has been working at Pal-O-Mine. Pal-O-Mine Equestrian is a New York therapeutic horseback riding farm. It serves vulnerable populations by providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning, and healing.
Alex brought her knowledge from years in long-term care nursing homes to extend the Pal-O-Mine program to include a dementia program.
“Many of our volunteers on the farm are older adults and I saw that this could also be a way to work with dementia patients as well. For many older adults coming to the farm is a nice way to reminisce and learn.”
Working with animals and having contact with nature and the farm has shown to have a positive impact on those suffering from dementia. The program further extended as fun farm outings for those living in assisted living though with COVID-19 these property visits moved to virtual education.
“Helping people get through the pandemic and virtually bring them to the farm has been really rewarding,”
said Alex. She was instrumental in reshaping virtual farm education with fun and innovative ways of live streaming farm life to those who couldn’t make it there. Alex sees these virtual events as staying even after the pandemic, as it is a nice way to reach a larger network of people.
Through an email from the NY Department of Aging, Pal-O-Mine heard about GetSetUp. GetSetUp’s work with older adults fit in with Pal-O-Mine’s partnerships with local assisted living facilities to provide benefits to older adults. The Pal-O-Mine organization really just looks to assure that everyone who comes to the farm feels empowered.
“For many older adults, the struggle is coping with losing some independence. Here on our farm, everything is so adaptable with walkways, ramps, and indoor spaces with both heating and cooling. Everything here is adapted to wheelchair level and coming soon we are starting a Parkinson's specific program.”