The Discovery Farm program was founded in 2002, as a way to connect the public with our Arabian horse and introduce newcomers to the breed. Part of the Arabian Horse Association’s (AHA’s) National outreach, there are currently hundreds of Discovery Farms across the United States. By scheduling a visit, prospective owners and enthusiasts can enjoy an introduction to the world of Arabian horses. AHA helps farm owners focus on creating a low-pressure environment where families and individuals can get up-close and hands-on through their educational enrollment packet. An easy way to learn about the program is through the AHA Discovery Farm commercial.
Anyone with a current AHA membership can sign up to become a Discovery Farm for a small fee, which goes to help the program continue. One such member is Lisabeth (Lisa) Robertson, owner of Royal Legend Arabians in Bryan, Texas. Having owned Straight Egyptian Arabians since 1985, and bred them since shortly after, Lisa not only has a successful lesson and breeding program, but is also part of the Discovery Farm program. With a herd of 55 predominantly Arabian horses and a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M in Animal Science, Lisa is a wonderful breed ambassador. Speaking about her homebred horses, she shares: “Our Arabian horses go from the show ring, to the cross country course, to the beach, and take it all in stride. My breeding program focuses on athletic horses with great legs, amazing minds, and sweet personalities.”
As well as helping students of all ages, from three to 78, show across different disciplines, Lisa also takes time out from her busy schedule to entertain visitors at her barn who reach out to her through the program. “AHA literature mentioned (the Discovery Farm program), so we looked into it.” Lisa shares, “Everyone needs to know horses, and of course, the best breed to know is the amazing, lovable, beautiful Arabian. So it only makes sense to show them to every child and family that just wants a chance to get close, to touch or look them in their intelligent eyes.”
Between showing at everything from small schooling shows and play days to A-rated Jumper shows, and Class A Arabian and Sporthorse shows, Royal Legend is also host to prospective Arabian lovers. “We get calls fairly often from people that just want to come see...to be close to an Arabian horse, or even just a horse. We always are happy to show folks around and grab a few treats for them to give to the horses. We will talk and explain about horses and Arabian horses during their visit. They get up close and pet, or even groom, the beautiful bodies of the Arabians once called ‘living art’. It’s so great to see the smiles, the looks of wonder and delight, and the awe of people who get to be near them.” Lisa says.
In additional to being receptive to all that reach out to them, Lisa notes that sometimes we must go one step further in an attempt to connect with others outside the breed. “Sometimes people do not come to us, so we must go to them. We took two horses on the Salt Grass Trail Ride in 2017. They were the only two Arabians and had never done anything like that, but excelled on the 125-mile ride through traffic, trains, planes and parades. We take horses to a local nursing home and give the resident’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren rides on their lawn, with a large bounce-house castle on one side of us and a helicopter that lands and takes off from the other side of us.”
Undoubtedly, this kind of outreach is crucial and a beautiful testament to the loving nature and extreme versatility of our Arabian horse. When asked to share her advice for a farm considering becoming a part of the Discovery Farm program, Lisa responded, “Why are most of us in the horse business? For most of us, it’s not to get rich but to get to spend every day with the thing we love most. If we feel this way about Arabians, how can we not share that love? I would say: get busy and get started. It’s a reward to the heart, if not the pocketbook. All Arabian horse owners and riders should strive to show the world how amazing this breed is, even if it is one child at a time.”
We couldn’t agree more. The Discovery Farm program acts as a crucial bridge for newcomers to gain insight into our horses and community. If you, like Lisa, are passionate about being an ambassador and sharing the amazing Arabian horse with others, you can find out more about the Discovery Farm program and how to sign up on the AHA website.