ONEIDA, WI - There’s a horse ranch in Oneida, Wisconsin where the handlers get just as much out of riding and caring for the animals, as the horses do. The ranch is called Firefly Acres Horse Farm, it’s a place where the therapeutic benefits of caring for others, stretches beyond whether you have fingers or hoofs.
At Firefly Acres nine rescued horses are going through the steps, towards healing.
“They had been mistreated, starved; one of them for sure I know had been beaten. They had a whole story,” says Lisa Pelky the founder of Firefly Acres Horse Farm.
Pelky founded the ranch nearly 10 years ago. But she didn’t know that the rehabilitation would for everyone involved would stretch, to those who cared for the horses as well.
“Healing for the horses and healing for the people too,” says Pelky.
The horses at the ranch often give more to their handlers, than the humans receive in return. Angela Thorsen has been coming to the farm for several years and says she was teamed up with a horse that was perfectly suited for her.
“She’s quite, shy, and that’s how I was at first too. Quite, shy, depressed. So working with her it’s like oh, maybe if I bring myself out a little bit and act more outgoing a bit then maybe she will follow suit,” says Thorsen.
A team of volunteers at the farm takes care of all of the heavy lifting out here. They maintain the farm, the horses, and there’s no question about it it’s a job for these volunteers. It’s just a job that doesn’t pay in the way you would expect.
“I had a lot of mental health issues, depression and everything… and it changed my life. Honestly I don’t think I’d be alive today if it wasn’t’ for Lisa,” says Thorsen.
Self confidence is gained here every time a handler takes the reins, and offers a bit of care to these beauties.
“It really shows you a lot about relationships. It’s good for relationship building. Quite people how to be more confident and speak their peace and people that are too excitable how to bring that down,” adds Pelky.
This is a place where therapy is being discovered. Firefly Acres has become a place where the volunteers, just like the horses, are reaping the benefits of the relationship.
“If you asked me three years ago do you like yourself, I’d say no I hate myself. Today I have enough self esteem and courage to say I love myself. I love who I am today and I can thank Lisa for that today because she’s really helped me,” adds Thorsen.
If you would like to find out more about the Firefly Acres Horse Farm, to see if you could possibly benefit by working with horses, we’ve included the farms contact information below. This weekend the horse farm is hosting a barn raiser chili cook off.
There will be a petting zoo, live music, games, and food. The non-profit is trying to raise money to build a barn so that more people can benefit from the farm being operational through the winter months. The event is Saturday from 3pm to 7pm and the charge varies from $8 to $10.