By Aaron Retherford
With fall festivals in full swing around Vermont, Rhythm of the Rein therapeutic riding program in Marshfield is hosting several events this weekend that will give attendees a glimpse into the power of horse therapy, complementing the expected fun fall festivals provide.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, Rhythm of the Rein’s annual Fall Festival and Veterans Appreciation Day will take place at Water Tower Farm, complete with horseback rides, pumpkin painting, arts and crafts, games, and free food.
“It’s just a way to say thank you to the veterans and their families for their service,” Rhythm of the Rein founder Dianne Lashoones said, adding that all children of veterans will receive a free pumpkin.
Lashoones said Rhythm of a Rein has been holding a Veterans Appreciation Day for about six years. This year, a VFW and American Legion Auxiliary Unit from Colchester and Essex will come help out and have also donated items to make the day happen.
“We do a program for veterans here at the farm called Equine Services for Veterans, and do know how much working with horses really helps people, especially those with post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorders, and depression as well as physical disabilities people might be challenged with,” Lashoones said. “We know how helpful it is for veterans, and we just want people to know about it. It’s probably not front and center on a lot people’s radars, especially if they haven’t worked with horses before. They don’t really make the connection of what it can do for them.
“By offering events like this, we can get people out here to meet horses and maybe they start thinking it might be something they’re interested in trying out. A lot it is just a thank you because they’ve done so much. Everybody tries to give back in any way they can, and this is the way we do.”
Later in the day, from 2-6 p.m., there will be a fundraising chicken BBQ. Cold Country Bluegrass will perform, and there will also be a silent auction with many donated items and a raffle for one of the Vermont Cedar Company’s chairs. Tickets are $10/adult and $5/youth under 12.
That’s not all though.
On Sunday, anyone who has raised enough money in their respective age groups, can take part in the annual benefit trail ride on neighboring land in Marshfield. Lashoones said it should be a new experience for even experienced trail riders. As a bonus, top pledge earners get gift baskets worth several hundred dollars. After the ride, there will be a wine and cheese social at Water Tower Farm.
Lashoones said that it sounds like it should be wonderful weather, but even if it rains, attendees shouldn’t worry because there is an indoor ring and everything is covered.
“Rain or shine, we’re going to have a wonderful barbeque,” she said.