By JIMMY PETERS

Arcadian Hometown Editor

Jan Chapman is the president of Mustang Promise ranch. It is a place of rescue for horses, a place of rescue for children who can’t afford to buy and keep their own horse, a place of rescue for volunteers to spend time caring for these animals, and a place of rescue for people with physical and emotional handicaps finding friendship with a horse to be a healing experience.

Jan tells the story: “One of our volunteers stopped by to help out several years ago, and instantly fell in love with one of the horses. Now she stops by every day to give us a hand; she has become a valuable member of our team and a friend. But more important, I feel like that rescue horse has helped to rescue her. Now she can in turn rescue others.”

Over 15 years ago Jan Chapman found herself saving cats and dogs as manager of a rescue operation in Venice. About five years ago she moved to Arcadia and opened a rescue ranch and adding horses to the list of animals to care for.

“I wanted to go strictly sanctuary,” she said, “but I didn’t want these animals to just sit around and wait to die.”

Horse sanctuaries are typically a place where old or injured horses are rescued and spend the rest of their lives in a comfortable and caring setting.

Jan continued, “Most of my horses are fully capable of work, at some level. A horse may be only capable of letting a child learn how to groom him. Some are only able to allow a kid to learn how to put a saddle on their back, or pick up a foot. Yet some can be trained to be a therapy horse, who can teach children and adults with emotional and physical handicaps how to ride, care for, and to relate to an animal.”

Currently there are 19 horses on the ranch, three of which are considered therapy horses. These three were physically strong enough to take on the rigorous training, however the most important thing is they have the right temperament to work with people. Jan’s daughter, Alysa, has been instrumental in training them. Jan’s goal is to increase the number of therapy horses to six, which will allow her to increase the number of children and handicapped individuals served. She also has a person ready to become certified in teaching riding therapy as soon as she can bring in more donations to cover the cost of certification.

At Mustang Promise ranch, no one gets turned away. Jan has a work program for clients who can’t afford to pay, which includes feeding the animals, cleaning stalls, whatever is needed.

“We recently did an event in Fort Myers where some of the kids had never even seen a live horse before. They got to experience what it feels like to ride a horse for the first time.”

Talking to Jan Chapman, I learned that when you rescue an animal, sometimes it has the unintended effect of rescuing others ... or maybe even yourself.

At a glance

Mustang Promise ranch, 4899 NW State Road 72, Arcadia

Mission: To educate the public about America’s wild horses and preserve their existence by promoting adoption and their integration into domestic life.

Facebook, 941-448-6160, or email Jan at jan@mustangpromise.org

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