Pictured above. Karin Taylor & Ford, her first Mustang and Fan Favorite Award winner of the 2015 Extreme Mustang Makeover. Photo by Hillary Oswald.
BY SISSY WICKES
Weisberg Stables in Jupiter, FL is the animal mecca of which many kids dream.
The twenty acre property houses a variety of friendly furs and feathers ranging from chickens to goats to horses to rabbits. Karin Taylor, her husband, and five children have carefully constructed a beautiful farm that also serves as a refuge for at -risk youth. At Weisberg Stables, kids who may be currently living in foster homes or dealing with family crises can benefit from non-pressured time with animals. As Taylor explains, “You can see the effect of animals on the kids immediately. They light up and really respond. Farm life is fun to share.”
While involved with horses and riding as a child, Taylor spent her career as an actress and a model. After getting married and beginning a family, she happily returned to riding and farm life. “I always loved animals and children, so this is the perfect fit,” Taylor explains. Once the farm had been established, Karin fulfilled her philanthropic dream of providing kids in need with the opportunity to ride and enjoy interacting with animals. Supported by the Weisberg Family Foundation established by Taylor and her husband, programs including Equine Assisted Learning and a sensory petting zoo were established. Weisberg Stables works with the Salvation Army and The Place of Hope to identify and assist at-risk kids in the Jupiter area. The farm hosts hundreds of kids with varied needs and situations- all benefitting from the bucolic environment.
The Sensory Petting Zoo provides a chance for hands on, experiential learning. The children have an opportunity to engage with different animals without pressure or expectation. Taylor explains, “We offer special needs kids the opportunity to engage with animals. It is a place where they feel no anxiety, where they can practice verbal and social skills.” Taylor and her skilled staff discuss the behavior and traits of the animals with the children, pointing out the effect of non-verbal behavior and body language. They discuss the ways that chickens communicate within the flock and the role of her bossy rooster in the social structure. From observing and interacting with the animal habitat, kids can extrapolate important information for their own lives.
The Equine Assisted Learning Program offers children the opportunity to spend time with horses. Equine Assisted Learning is an experiential learning activity using horses to teach essential life skills through the use of ground work exercises. In EAL, the herd mentality of horses is translated into the team mentality of humans. Students learn to function successfully within a group as they strengthen their own sense of awareness, learn to communicate more effectively and develop other essential life skills.
In the Weisberg Stables’ Horsemanship Program, participants interact on the ground with the docile, loving ponies and horses on the farm. They learn to groom, bathe, and handle them, and sometimes participate in getting the horses to perform tricks. A riding program is offered one day per week for kids who desire to learn to ride.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the Weisberg Stables program is that the Weisberg children are fully engaged in the operation of the farm. “For our kids, farm chores are part of their day. They care for the animals and assist with the programs we offer. They are part of the Family Foundation, and this is their legacy,” Taylor explains. “This is our way of life.” The Weisberg Family is fully committed to the work they are doing with at-risk children. “Our curriculum of animal interaction is solid and proven. We love to see the impact that it makes. While we think that these are the smallest things, they are not small to these kids,” Karin says empathetically.
Through their work, the Weisbergs hope to inspire others toward philanthropy. Their family farm is their home, their vessel of social work, and their family legacy. “We feel that everyone has unique gifts and the opportunity to serve. We all possess time, talent, and resources to give to others.” At Weisberg Stables, the Weisbergs have created a place to enjoy and to serve others. Let’s pass it on.
About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist, an autism advocate and Editor of The Plaid Horse. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.
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