Great and Small has been serving students with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and other disabilities since 1998. They not only teach students to ride, they empower them to learn. This learning process builds confidence, provides a sense of accomplishment, and the riders have a great time.
Sarah Phelps, founder of Great and Small, explained the powerful effect therapeutic riding has for children with disabilities. She said, “My experience of children with disabilities is that they are frequently not in charge of even the smallest parts of their own destiny. But when you physically pick them up and put them on a 1,500 pound horse, there is this wonderful sensation of them finally, not only being in charge of their own destiny, but another huge animal and that is very powerful.”
Right now, Great and Small has two retired racehorses-turned-eventers, a 4-H pony, a former polo pony, and a trail horse. The horses have calm temperaments, love human interaction, and have all gone through the 90 day trail period that introduces them to the equine-assisted therapy environment. Shadow, an Appaloosa, has been with Great and Small since 2009. Other horses, like Zippy Flush Boy and Bart Simpson, are newer and joined in 2018. All the horses are beautiful and well-trained, and loved by the riders.
One unique program that Great and Small offers is their group program. They offer dynamic, flexible group options, for both one time visits and weekly visits. This is perfect for special education classes, veterans groups, or women’s groups. They have partnered with organizations such as Community Support Services, Head Injury Rehabilitation and Referral Services, High Schools, and Middle Schools, and the National Academy Foundation.
Of the many stories of healing and hope made at Great and Small, one is especially touching, and shows the magic of therapeutic riding. A gentleman who had ridden in his teenage years, later had a traumatic brain injury as a young adult. Twenty years after his accident, he came to Great and Small, still suffering from balance and memory difficulties.
When he got on Okie Dokie for the first time, all the muscle memory from riding years and years ago came back. He automatically shifted into the correct riding position, and everything was natural. His balance on the horse was better than it was on the ground.
Rachel Neff, Center Director, says that he was able to influence the horse in a remarkable way for someone who hadn’t ridden in 20 years. She recounts that Great and Small was “so honored to be able to give him a piece of his life back by getting him back on a horse.”
Check out their website below to volunteer or learn more about Great and Small’s unique programs.
How to Contact This Farm:
17320 Moore Road
Boyds, MD 20841