It was 2015 and Michela was in her second quarter of sophomore year. She was struggling in school. She didn’t have many friends. “Most days”, she said, “I would come to school depressed and not wanting to be there.” Just when it seemed like all hope was gone, Michela heard about a program for teens called Hope for Horses. She decided to give it a try.
The first day she went to the farm, she knew she was going to like it. It was her first time seeing horses up close, and in her own words, “my goodness they were beautiful.” Throughout the program, Michela learned how to be a side walker, worked with children with special needs, and spent time with the horses.
Michela says, “After one year, I have accomplished a lot thanks to everyone at Freedom Farm. My depression has gotten a lot better. I have learned how to be social with people, I have stopped harming myself and I have met amazing people who have helped me every step of the way.” She continues, “Freedom Farm gives you this feeling you can’t really get until you experience it. I really love this place. I feel like I’ve come home.”
Hope for Horses is just one of the many programs offered at Freedom Farm, and Michela is one of many people that has benefited from the amazing programs and loving staff. The Hope for Horses program is specifically for high school students that attend the public high school in Waverly. Students learn leadership, respect, and teamwork while building relationships with the horses, their peers, and staff.
Freedom Farm also offers Therapeutic Riding, a program called Healing with Horses for military veterans, and a mini summer day camp for kids called Books Around the Farm. These programs offer hope and teach valuable skills that truly change the lives of riders of all ages and backgrounds.
Susie Bjorklund, founder and director of Freedom Farm, shares that “horses are the foundation to our successful programs.” They vary in age and breed – some are retired show horses; one is a retired hunter pony – but all love their new roles at Freedom Farm. They know when they enter the arena that they have a job to do.
At Freedom Farm, love flows from the staff and Susie’s excitement and passion for what she does is contagious. Susie shares, “I love how Nora takes my hand and pulls me up the ramp as we wait for her horse ‘Sara’. She is so full of excitement; her whole body is electric and everyone in the arena is filled with joy! Once on her horse, Nora looks at me, touches my face and smiles so big, her way of thanking me. Her love of horses renews my passion for what Freedom Farm is able to accomplish.”
How to Contact This Farm:
11500 Ferman Ave SW
Waverly, MN 55390