Reagan Miles was 9 years old when her family rescued two horses from a neighboring county. There’s no need to describe their condition ~ the main point is that it had a huge impact on her young mind and heart. Precisely 20 years hence, Reagan Miles manages two leased farms, overseeing 42 rescued horses.
“Mom was a classy show horsewoman in her day,” Reagan explains of her mother and right hand at the rescue operation, Sheila Miles. “But with three daughters all loving horses, it wasn’t financially feasible to go the show route. We just rode and loved and enjoyed what we had on eight acres in Christiansburg, while she instilled in me the love of helping horses that no one else wanted.”
After graduating from Ferrum College with a biology degree and environmental science minor, Reagan set out to pursue the vision of a horse rescue operation that never left her. She works full-time as a large animal veterinary technician at the Virginia Tech-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, contributing as much of her salary as she can to Winterfrost Farm and her equine friends.
Understanding that horses need to do something and that communities enjoy being involved in animal welfare causes, Reagan gently rehabilitates and trains abused, neglected and surrendered horses into reliable, rideable steeds. The farm provides food, shelter, medical care and adoption services for the horses, while offering trail riding, horseback lessons, birthday parties and lease options to the public.
“Without a doubt, our signature Ride-A-Rescue horseback riding program is the most popular,” she says. “Not only do local folks get to enjoy a horseback ride with beautiful views, but also a horse that once had no future now has a job and a purpose. All proceeds go directly to horse care.” Rides go from one to four hours long, and everyone is welcome. Winterfrost Farm specializes in beginners of all ages.
Trails travel across pasture top ridges through woodlands and down to the New River, where the horses can wade in for drink. Each ride begins with a little lesson to get the rider settled in the saddle, and all the horses are calm and gentle. Every season is lovely — partly because you are in the New River Valley and partly because you are on horseback! All the riding fees go right into the farm coffers for horse care.
The birthday party advantage is huge because it is tailored to the ages and abilities of the participants, and you bring the party supplies, refreshments and guests. Winterfrost Farm offers face painting or basic horsemanship skills like approaching, leading, grooming and tacking a horse. They also do guided pony rides; basic group riding lessons in the arena; or a trail ride. All the party fees go right into the farm coffers for horse care.
Riding lessons can be arranged for any level of rider, either English or Western. There are some lease options with the horses, and some are available for adoption. All the fees go right into the farm coffers for horse care. All monetary donations also go right into the farm coffers for horse care. If you want to donate hay, grain, tack or other horse-related things, contact Reagan to see how you can contribute.
Winterfrost Farm simply would not run without devoted volunteers who help feed and care for the horses. Some come solo; others as a couple or with friends; and some in parent-kid activities. What better way to spend quality time with a child than learning about and helping horses together?
Dana Hamrick, 19, has been coming to Winterfrost for more than three years – feeding, grooming, cleaning stalls, walking and exercising horses and assisting on trail rides. She and other volunteers also work on facility maintenance, fund raising and public education special events.
Winterfrost Farm is a non-profit horse rescue with 501(c)(3) status pending. The mission is to take in, care for and rehabilitate horses in need, creating programs that engage and educate the community, while giving rescued horses the care they require, along with training, a job and a purpose. You can donate your time, energy or money via the website: www.winterfrostfarm.com. Don’t let the “status pending” stop you from donating ~ not everything is measured in tax deductions.
Story and Photos by Joanne M. Anderson♦ End